NBC Wins the Prize For Most Enthusiastic Woodward Book-Selling

If there was a competition on Monday morning to see who would give Bob Woodward the most free publicity, NBC's Today was the hands-down winner. Between the introductory promos, an Andrea Mitchell report, a Tony Snow interview, and a Bob Woodward interview, NBC gave "State of Denial" 15 minutes of publicity in the first half hour of Monday's show. In those 15 minutes, NBC viewers saw the book's red cover displayed on the screen six times, the title was mentioned at least five times, and the on-screen graphics carried the title for most of those 15 minutes.

After Matt Lauer promoted the Mark Foley story, he added: "Counterpunch. The Bush administration fights backs, fights back against explosive claims in Bob Woodward's new book that it bungled the war in Iraq." Seconds later, Meredith Vieira added: "And another big story out of Washington, that bombshell book from legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward paints a scathing picture of the Bush administration's handing of the war in Iraq, that goes as far as to say the White House is deliberately misleading the public."

The Andrea Mitchell set-up piece was about two minutes and 40 seconds. The Tony Snow interview was roughly five minutes, the Woodward interview another six. (Introductory promos took up about 38 seconds.)

During the Mitchell piece, the TV screen graphic read: "'State of Denial: Fallout from Bombshell Book." While Tony Snow was on, the graphic was "'State of Denial': White House Takes On Woodward." During the Woodward interview, the graphic on screen was "Bombshell Book: Was Bush In a 'State of Denial'?" NBC also instructed viewers to read more at MSNBC.com during the Woodward interview.

Mitchell laid the Woodward line out with gusto: "Once again, a Bob Woodward book is causing a political firestorm." (Who's the firestorm manufacturer here, with 15 minutes of heavy-breathing air time?) "In his latest, State of Denial, he describes a feuding foreign policy team and an adminstration deliberately misleading the public about the war in Iraq."

After publicizing the claims that White House insiders wanted Donald Rumsfeld canned (along with denials), Mitchell added: "State of Denial portrays Rumsfeld as arrogant, running roughshod over his commanders and Condoleezza Rice. And Woodward says Rice, when she was National Security Adviser, ignored a warning from CIA Director George Tenet, two months before 9/11, that he feared a major al-Qaeda attack. Rice has disputed Woodward's description of the briefing and her lack of response."

Mitchell wasn't done with the publicizing and underlining: "Perhaps most damaging, Woodward's claims of a coverup about the insurgency in Iraq. Classified documents in the book indicate the Pentagon knew the number of attacks on U.S. troops was going up while claiming the opposite and underreporting the numbers. Flying overnight to the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice told reporters it is incomprehensible that she would ignore that CIA warning two months before 9/11 but records and participants in that meet show that it did, indeed, take place."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis