by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the wake of his bestselling book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” much has been written questioning the accuracy of Bob Woodward’s past reporting, including his celebrated Watergate journalism.
This criticism is off the mark because it misses the true weakness of his journalism while attacking its strength. Woodward is meticulous in his reporting and accurately communicates at least part of what he has been told.
But that does not mean he always gives the reader a true and complete picture of his subject. …
… In essence, Woodward won a Pulitzer Prize for nailing Nixon with literally true — but misleading and incomplete — journalism.
While “Fear” is well-written and has the feel of meticulous reporting, no one knows how much savvy and sane thinking of Trump was left on the cutting room floor. Is there a cunning method to the president’s madness? We are not told and are left to guess.
But we do know that Woodward has intentionally robbed us of the context that would come from examining the hand President Trump was dealt by President Obama, whom Woodward treats with reverence. …
… So while Woodward paints a frightening picture, to be sure, of the hotblooded decision-making temperament of President Trump, he certainly avoids informing the reader of the comparative process of the supposedly cool and collected prior chief executive. At the end of the day, it may well be that Trump assesses military advice more wisely than Obama.
Woodward documents the president’s habitual dissembling, usually on minor matters, but he does not remind the reader of outrageous, rehearsed lies on major matters by Obama, such as: if you like your doctor, you can keep him. And: the Benghazi attacks were spontaneous and caused by a video.