The reporter who uncovered Watergate once again demonstrates with his book about the president that he is still an institution of journalism.
“All US presidents make a book with Bob Woodward, they all give him a bunch of interviews and then everyone regrets. This is probably one of the worst cases, ”says Republican strategist Karl Rove after the first excerpts from Rage (Ira), Woodward’s second work on Donald Trump, which is made with his invaluable collaboration.
Nobody better indicated than the current president – in love with fame, with an addictive love and hate relationship towards the media – to fall for the networks of Woodward, the journalist most desired by the spheres of power in Washington, the most irresistible firm since that being a young reporter for the local section of the newspaper The Washington Post uncovered along with Carl Bernstein the Watergate scandal, which would lead to the resignation of Richard Nixon.
He has never ceased to be revered, but later generations of journalists disagree with his arid and dry style, his taste for details irrelevant to the story and his reliance on anonymous sources; the lack of context and interpretation (“any measurable brain activity is absent” in her texts, Joan Didion wrote in 1996 in the New York Review of Books) and, above all, her closeness to power. From being an insider, she has become a subject in history. He himself has said that he once stopped an exclusive from his newspaper because the CIA asked him to.
The reporter behind the character has not changed. Bernstein was the better of the two writing. What he is good at is obtaining information and throughout his career (he has never left the Post, although he does not step on it very much) he has remained faithful to his method of working to portray presidents: accumulating data, talking to as many people as possible of your environment, flatter your sources and overwhelm them with the amount of information you hoard until they finally come to the conclusion that it is better to cooperate. The result, unparalleled access to power, with the easements and risks that this entails for a journalist.
Bill Clinton he allowed himself to be thoroughly interviewed. George W. Bush he collaborated on his first two books about him and the fourth, regretting not having done it for the third. Barack Obama He spoke to him twice, at the beginning and at the end of the process. Trump gave him two interviews in the Oval Office and his direct phone number to call him whenever he wanted. They chatted 18 times, most of them, alone. “Melania, I’m talking to Bob Woodward,” Trump dropped his wife proudly when she was passing by during one of their conversations.
As the journalist reminded the president when speaking of racism in search of a show of empathy that he did not obtain, he too comes from a privileged background. Born in 1943 in Geneva, Illinois, Robert Upshur Woodward grew up in Wheaton, outside Chicago. When he was twelve, his parents divorced. His father was a conservative judge. In 1965 he graduated from Yale with a degree in literature and history and volunteered for the Navy, where he spent five years.
In 1970, when he was about to enroll at Harvard and follow in his father’s footsteps, made a test contract at The Washington Post. He missed it but was posted to a minor newspaper in the group, the Montgomery County Sentinel, where reactions to his investigation of a local school principal taught him how personal journalism can be to readers. In 1971 he returned to the Post.
He had been writing for a year when his tenacity would turn the coverage of what seemed like a simple robbery into a defining history of twentieth-century American journalism and politics. He and Bernstein had something that is in short supply today: time. His articles ran for two years. Partly thanks to the movie All the president’s men, based on his book, their names are synonymous with investigative journalism around the world. “Don’t let it go to their heads,” advised Post editor Katherine Graham upon receiving the Pulitzer in 1973.
Woodward, who does not vote but has sympathy for conservatives, has never left journalism. He has written 20 books, including one about the CIA that caused a scandal in the late 1980s for its revelations about Counter-Iran and because it was accused of having fabricated a deathbed interview with its director. In 2003 his coverage of the 9/11 attacks earned him his second Pulitzer.
But he was no longer an untouchable figure. Criticisms of Deny the evidence (2007), his third book on Bush, whom he previously presented as a hero, like Dick Cheney, were devastating. “It took three bookss to come to the same conclusion that thousands of bloggers have suggested for years from the basement of their homes, that the Bush Administration is full of guys who love war, are fatal and are fighting each other, “wrote David sarcastically Carr in The New York Times.
Woodward was booed a year ago at the presentation of She Said, the book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the journalists who unveiled the accusations of dozens of women against the all-powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, now sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. The tone of Woodward’s questions, which continually interrupted reporters, made him seem uninformed on the subject and disconnected from the essence of #MeToo.
But Woodward is still an institution. The impact of his latest book proves it. It took his classic factual description of Trump’s strategy on the pandemic – and his talent for pulling the tongue at presidents – for many to see that he tried to mislead public opinion so as not to “create panic” (and, thus, it is presumed, not to alter the markets or their chances of re-election), at the cost of depriving her of reliable information about the virus, as if it were going to bend to her tweets. The journalist who overthrew a president is still listened to and viewed as someone who can do it again. Annoyed with his first book (Fear) on his first two years in the White House, Trump He thought that in the short distance he would disarm him with his charisma and would be more favored in the second. Erred.
Beatriz Navarro. The vanguard