The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up. It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who coöperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning. In a 1996 essay for the New York Review of Books, Joan Didion wrote that “measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent” from Woodward’s post-Watergate books, which are notable mainly for “a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.”
It's no secret that I'll read just about anything with an American president on the cover. But Woodward's presidential books in the years since he toppled Nixon have been absolutely inessential. He's the ultimate access reporter, and right now he's throwing a fit because he didn't get the access (and phony respect) that he feels he deserves.