I"m not sure I have an opinion on Bob Woodward"s culpability for keeping silent about the fact that he"d been a target of the Valerie Plame leak well before other reporters. While courts at all levels concluded that Matt Cooper and Judith Miller were required to testify, nothing would have required them or Woodward to rush forward unbidden. Woodward"s worst offense was joining in the Victoria Toensing/Joe DiGenova chorus of "there"s no crime here," which is only a little more shameful than it already was, now that we know what he knew.
Much more interesting are the obvious strains in his "odd relationship" with his Post colleagues, especially Walter Pincus. I should say that I know nothing about what goes on in the Post newsroom. But for as long as I've been reading the Washington Post regularly, I've found it sort of ironic that the paper has some of the most amazing investigative reporters in history, reporters who really earn that overused modifier. Pincus and now retired George Lardner are the best examples, but Morton Mintz was another and in the younger generation, probably Dana Priest is a fourth. All are the kind of reporters who understand how to break open a federal agency, nurture an unhappy bureaucrat with a story to tell until he's ready to tell it, or read through 10,000 pages of public records to find the connections between two events. And none of them are or were all that well known.
Meanwhile the paper also had someone who was probably the embodiment of the term "investigative reporter" to a generation, but who is actually not that at all. Woodward instead is a stenographer of the narratives of the people at the very highest levels of power, recording their semi-official versions of history. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just a different activity. Even Deep Throat turns out to be not a White House underling shocked at what he's witnessing but basically a rival center of power in Washington at the time, the post-Hoover FBI. I've always wondered if that caused a little tension at the paper. (When I say "stenographer," echoing Maureen Dowd's criticism of Judith Miller, I don't mean to associate Woodward with Miller, whose "entanglement" with sources and her role in the story, makes her something other than a journalist.)
I was glad to see that Greg Anrig linked to an old Joan Didion essay about most of Woodward's books. To my mind the most interesting and revealing of those books is the most unlikely: Wired, his out of print 1984 biography of John Belushi. Wired is almost like a French experimental novel of the 60s, like the novel whose name and author I forget right now that is written entirely without the letter "e": It is a book about humor written entirely from the perspective of a person without any sense of humor or irony. It's years since I read it, but I vividly remember the flat earnestness with which Woodward recounts the "Bees" segment from the early Saturday Night Live, and Belushi's dislike of it, the same tone he would later bring to Colin Powell's march to war. He has no idea why people would dress up as bees, laugh at people dressed as bees, or that there are motives and paradoxes underneath the surface. Woodward's mind has a total literalness to it -- as Anrig says, he believes that "what's really going on" is exactly the same as what his sources tell him. That's wired in, not something he can do anything about, and so I've always been a little sympathetic to Woodward. (And before anyone says "Asperger's," let me just say my name's not Bill Frist and I don't do remote medical diagnosis.) And you can get something out of his reporting, if you bring your own sense of irony and skepticism.
p.s.: The book I was thinking of is "Le Disparition," by Georges Perec, which I cannot claim to have read either in French or in its English translation. From Google and Wikipedia, I learn that such texts are called "lipograms" and that "writing this way is impractical." Indeed.