Outside of the administration of US President George W. Bush, the disclosure Friday by The Associated Press of major elements of Bob Woodward's forthcoming book had perhaps its most immediate impact on The Washington Post.
The newspaper, which employs Woodward as an assistant managing editor, had a deal with the publisher, Simon & Schuster, to publish exclusive excerpts from the book, Plan of Attack, for five days beginning today.
The book, about the period leading up to the war in Iraq, is not scheduled to go on sale until Tuesday.
"These things happen, so there you are," said Leonard Downie, the executive editor of the Post, who declined to say how much the Post had paid to publish the excerpts.
"It was a mercifully terse story," he said, referring to the news agency article, which had fewer than 1,000 words.
Considering that the Post is planning to run more than 10 full pages of excerpts over the next week -- beginning with the early edition of today's paper, which was actually to be available yesterday morning -- Downie said he was confident that readers would nonetheless "realize this is a Washington Post/Bob Woodward production."
Woodward, who first achieved journalistic fame with his investigative reporting of the Watergate scandal, said that while he would have preferred that the revelations appear exclusively in the Post, he did not begrudge the AP its scoop.
"I'm not going to hire Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt to set up the plumbing operation," he said.
"Someone wants to get the book and write about it, how could I plead special immunity?" Woodward said.
Simon & Schuster has not been so forgiving in the past. Last June, when the AP published details of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir before its publication, Simon & Schuster threatened to sue the wire service. Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for the publisher, declined Friday to say whether the publishing house had ever followed through on that suit, as did a spokesman for the AP. But Simon & Schuster made no direct protest to the wire service on Friday.
CBS, which is like Simon & Schuster a part of Viacom, said it would continue with its plan to broadcast an exclusive interview with Woodward on 60 Minutes today. But because of the actions by the AP, it made available excerpts of that interview to many CBS News programs, including the CBS Evening News.