UPDATE: Jeff Himmelman defended his reporting to Politico on Monday. He hit out at Woodward's claim that he omitted a 2010 interview with Bradlee that undercuts the premise of his article.
Himmelman told Politico, "I do not think what Ben said in 2010 negates his doubts in 1990, and if you read the book in full you will see why."
"The interview that Bob cited to you from 2010--as an attempt to claim that I didn't include all available evidence--is cited in full in "Yours In Truth," he wrote. "The piece that ran in New York Magazine was an excerpt from a 473-page book. I stand fully behind my reporting."
He also released the transcript of a 2011 interview where Bradlee appeared to reiterate his doubts, which Politico published on Monday.
Bradlee reacted to the unfolding drama with a message via his wife Sally Quinn on Sunday night: “I love Bob, and I love Jeff, and I trust them both, and let’s move on,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
ORIGINAL STORY: Bob Woodward is coming out strongly against a new report that reveals that Benjamin Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who oversaw his Watergate stories, once said he had "fear in [his] soul" that Woodward embellished details about his reporting of the scandal.
On Sunday, New York magazine's Jeff Himmelman published a piece about doubts that Bradlee had about Woodward's dealings with his secret informant Deep Throat. Himmelman, Woodward's former research assistant and the author of a forthcoming biography about Bradlee, spent months going through Bradlee's archives.
Woodward has long claimed that he arranged meetings with Deep Throat in an underground garage using signals in newspapers and a flower pot on his apartment balcony. Himmelman's report includes a transcript of a conversation in which Bradlee expressed skepticism about that aspect of Woodward's account.
In 1990, Bradlee told Barbara Feinman, who was helping him with his memoir: "Did that potted [plant] incident ever happen? … and meeting in some garage. One meeting in the garage? Fifty meetings in the garage? I don’t know how many meetings in the garage … There’s a residual fear in my soul that that isn’t quite straight."
Woodward issued a defense to Politico over the weekend. He alleged that the Himmelman failed to include a more recent interview where Bradlee expressed complete confidence in his Watergate coverage. Woodward said that he was given a transcript of the interview, in which he said Bradlee told Himmelman: "If you would ask me, do I think that [Woodward] embellished, I would say no."
Woodward told Politico that the 2010 interview "undercuts" Himmelman's entire New York magazine piece. "He can write what he wants, but his own transcript undercuts his premise," he said.
Himmelman writes that Woodward reacted fiercely when presented with the quotes, begging the biographer not to include them in the book. "Don’t give fodder to the f-ckers," he claimed Woodward said.