Another thing that galls me is the way Woodward called Sperling in advance of the story’s publication. Why? He wasn’t looking for a comment for the story, he was calling to warn them.
Did he do that with Nixon? Did Dan Rather do that with Bush in the 2004 TANG “fake but accurate” story? Did the National Enquirer do that with Clinton?
No! It’s supposed to be a surprise, a heads-up on a story like this is unethical because it allows the subject to set the spin in advance.
Usually they do call to ask for comment, and I believe they did in those cases too.