Bob Woodward

American journalist

Robert Upshur "Bob" Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is a journalist in the United States, known mostly for his work in helping uncover the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation, in a partnership with Carl Bernstein, while working as a reporter for The Washington Post. He has written twelve nonfiction books and has twice contributed reporting to efforts that collectively earned the Post and its National Reporting staff a Pulitzer Prize.

All good work is done in defiance of management.


  • In Haig's presence, Kissinger referred pointedly to military men as "dumb, stupid animals to be used" as pawns for foreign policy.
  • All good work is done in defiance of management.
    • CBS News' 20th-anniversary Watergate documentary (1994)
  • To say that the press brought down Nixon, that's horseshit. The press always plays a role, whether by being passive or by being aggressive, but it's a mistake to overemphasize.
    • "Watergate Revisited]," retrospective by Mark Feldstein in American Journalism Review (August 2004)

Post Reporter's Pulitzer Prize Is Withdrawn; Pulitzer Board Withdraws Post Reporter's Prize (19 April 1981)Edit

The Washington Post, by William Green (19 April 1981) [1][dead link]

See: "Jimmy's_World"_scandal

  • I think that the decision to nominate the story for a Pulitzer is of minimal consequence. I also think that it won is of little consequence. It is a brilliant story — fake and fraud that it is.
  • It would be absurd for me or any other editor to review the authenticity or accuracy of stories that are nominated for prizes.
  • I believed it, we published it. Official questions had been raised, but we stood by the story and her. Internal questions had been raised, but none about her other work. The reports were about the story not sounding right, being based on anonymous sources, and primarily about purported lies [about] her personal life -- [told by men reporters], two she had dated and one who felt in close competition with her."
  • If so, our posture would be as follows: we published the story and said it was true, but now we are going to nominate it for a Pulitzer — now that's serious business.
  • I don't believe you on the 'Jimmy' story. No, I don't, and I'm going to prove it if it's the last thing I do.
  • "It's all over," he said to Cooke. "You've got to come clean. The notes show us the story is wrong. We know it. We can show you point by point how you concocted it."

Fear: Trump in the White House (2018)Edit

  • In 2016, candidate Trump gave Bob Costa and myself his definition of the job of president: "More than anything else, it's the security of our nation... That's number one, two and three... The military, being strong, not letting bad things happen to our country from the outside. And I certainly think that's always going to be my number-one part of that definition." The reality was that the United States in 2017 was tethered to the words and actions of an emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader. Members of his staff had joined to purposefully block some of what they believed were the president's most dangerous impulses. It was a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world. What follows is that story.
    • p. xxii
  • Mattis still saw Iran as the key destabilizing influence in the region. In private, he could be pretty hard-line, but he had mellowed. Push them back, screw with them, drive a wedge between them and the Russians, but no war. Russia had privately warned Mattis that if there was a war in the Baltics, Russia would not hesitate to use tactical nuclear weapons against NATO. Mattis, with agreement from Dunford, began saying that Russia was an existential threat to the United States. Mattis had formed a close relationship with Tillerson. They tried to have lunch most weeks. Mattis's house was near the State Department and several times Mattis told his staff, "I'll walk down and say hello to him." McMaster considered Mattis and Tillerson "the team of two" and found himself outside their orbit, which was exactly the way they wanted it.
    • p. 132
  • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was a commander in the Naval Reserves, tried several times to persuade Mattis to appear on Sunday talk shows on behalf of the administration. The answer was always no. "Sean," Mattis finally said, "I've killed people for a living. If you call me again, I'm going to fucking send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?"
    • p. 133
  • Then there was the ultra-sensitive intelligence gained through the Special Access Programs South Korea allowed the U.S. to run. Trump seemed not to comprehend the value and the necessity. "Like $3.5 billion, 28,000 troops," the president said. He was really hot. "I don't know why they're there. Let's bring them all home!" "So, Mr. President," Cohn said, "what would you need in the region to sleep well at night?" "I wouldn't need a fucking thing," the president said. "And I'd sleep like a baby." Priebus called an end to the meeting. Mattis seemed completely deflated. Trump got up and walked out. All the air seemed to have gone out of Tillerson. He could not abide Trump's attack on the generals. The president was speaking as if the U.S. military was a mercenary force for hire. If a country wouldn't pay us to be there, then we didn't want to be there. As if there were no American interests in forging and keeping a peaceful world order, as if the American organizing principle was money. "Are you okay?" Cohn asked him. "He's a fucking moron," Tillerson said so everyone heard.
    • p. 224-225
  • Cohn concluded that Trump was, in fact, going backwards. He had been more manageable the first months when he was a novice. For Priebus, it was the worst meeting among many terrible ones. Six months into the administration, he could see vividly that they had a fundamental problem of goal setting. Where were they going? The distrust in the room had been thick and corrosive. The atmosphere was primitive; everyone was ostensibly on the same side, but they had seemed suited up in battle armor, particularly the president. This was what craziness was like, Priebus concluded.
    • p. 225
  • A senior White House official who spoke contemporaneously with participants in the meeting recorded this summary: "The president proceeded to lecture and insult the entire group about how they didn't know anything when it came to defense or national security. It seems clear that many of the president's senior advisers, especially those in the national security realm, are extremely concerned with his erratic nature, his relative ignorance, his inability to learn, as well as what they consider his dangerous views."
    • p. 226
  • Dowd remained convinced that Mueller never had a Russian case or an obstruction case. He was looking for the perjury trap. And in a brutally honest self-evaluation, he believed that Mueller had played him, and the president, for suckers in order to get their cooperation on witnesses and documents. Dowd was disappointed in Mueller, pulling such a sleight of hand. After 47 years, Dowd knew the game, knew prosecutors. They built cases. With all the testimony and documents, Mueller could string together something that would look bad. Maybe they had something new and damning as he now more than half-suspected. Maybe some witness like Flynn had changed his testimony. Things like that happened and that could change the ball game dramatically. Former top aide comes clean, admits to lying, turns on the president. Dowd didn't think so but he had to worry and consider the possibility.
    • p. 357
  • Some things were clear and many were not in such a complex, tangled investigation. There was no perfect X-ray, no tapes, no engineer's drawing. Dowd believed that the president had not colluded with Russia or obstructed justice. But in the man and his presidency Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying "Fake News," the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the President: "You're a fucking liar."
    • p. 357

Rage (2020)Edit

  • Seven hours later, Trump gave a long statement at his first Coronavirus Task Force press conference in three months. He spoke alone at the White House. No Pence, Fauci or Birx. He also shifted tone. Everything was not rosy with the outlook for the virus. "It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better," Trump said injecting an unusual dose of realism. "Something I don't like saying about things, but that's the way it is." Previously Trump had been reluctant to wear a mask. "Get a mask," he said. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They'll have an effect and we need everything we can get." His comments were a tacit acknowledgement that his previous approach had not worked, and that, in fact, the virus was much worse. The day was a microcosm of Trump's presidency, veering from "We have it under control" to "worse before it gets better," all in the span of a few hours. It was just the most recent example- and the last before this book went to press- that Trump's presidency was riddled with ambivalence, set on an uncertain course, swinging from combativeness to conciliation, and whipsawing from one statement or action to the opposite.
    • p. 384-385
  • After I finished reporting for this book on President Trump, I felt weariness. The country was in real turmoil. The virus was out of control. The economy was in crisis with more than 40 million out of work. A powerful reckoning on racism and inequality was upon us. There seemed to be no end in sight, and certainly no clear path to get there. I thought back to the conversation with Trump on February 7 when he mentioned the "dynamite behind every door," the unexpected explosion that could change everything. He was apparently thinking about some external event that would affect the Trump presidency. But now, I've come to the conclusion that the "dynamite behind the door" was in plain sight. It was Trump himself. The oversized personality. The failure to organize. The lack of discipline. The lack of trust in others he had picked, in experts. The undermining or the attempted undermining of so many American institutions. The failure to be a calming, healing voice. The unwillingness to acknowledge error. The failure to do his homework. To extend the olive branch. To listen carefully to others. To craft a plan. Mattis, Tillerson and Coats are all conservatives or apolitical people who wanted to help him and the country. Imperfect men who answered the call to public service. They were not the deep state. Yet each departed with cruel words from their leader. They concluded that Trump was an unstable threat to their country. Think about that for a moment: The top national security leaders thought the president of the United States was a danger to the country.
    • p. 386-387
  • On January 28, 2020, when Trump's national security adviser and his deputy warned Trump that the virus would be- not might be, but would be- the biggest national security threat to his presidency, the leadership clock had to be reset. It was a detailed forecast, supported by evidence and experience that unfortunately turned out to be correct. Presidents are the executive branch. There was a duty to warn. To listen, to plan, and to take care. For a long time Trump hedged, as did others, and said the virus is worrisome but not yet, not now. There were good reasons to ride both horses, but there should have been more consistent and courageous outspokenness. Leading is almost always risky. The virus, the "plague," as Trump calls it, puts the United States and the world in economic turmoil that may not be just a recession, but a depression. It is a genuine financial crisis, putting tens of millions out of work. Trump's solution is to try to recreate what he believes is the economic miracle he created in the pre-virus time. Democrats, Republicans and Trump did agree to spending at least $2.2 trillion on recovery, which will create its own future problems with growing deficits. The human cost has been almost unimaginable, with more than 130,000 Americans killed by the virus by July and no real end in sight.
    • p. 389
  • The dead-seated hatreds of American politics flourished in the Trump years. He stoked them, and did not make concerted efforts to bring the country together. Nor did the Democrats. Trump felt deeply wronged by the Democrats who felt deeply wronged by Trump. The walls between them only grew higher and thicker. My 17 interviews with Trump presented a challenge. He denounced Fear, my first book on him, as untrue, a "scam" and a "joke," calling me a "Dem operative." Several of those closest to him told him that the book was true, and Lindsey Graham told him that I would not put words in his mouth and would report as accurately as possible. Trump decided, for reasons that are not clear to me, that he would cooperate. To his mind, he would become a reliable source. He is reliable at times, completely unreliable at others, and often mixed... But the interviews show he vacillated, prevaricated and at times dodged his role as leader of the country despite his "I alone can fix it" rhetoric. As America and the world know, Trump is an overpowering presence. He loves spectacle. In a time of crisis, the operational is much more important than the political or the personal. For tens of millions the optimistic American story has turned into a nightmare.
    • p. 389-390
  • For nearly 50 years, I have written about nine presidents from Nixon to Trump- 20 percent of the 45 U.S. presidents. A president must be willing to share the worst with the people, the bad news with the good. All presidents have a large obligation to inform, warn, protect, to define goals and the true national interest. Trump has, instead, enshrined personal impulse as a governing principle of his presidency. When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.
    • p. 391-392

Quotes about WoodwardEdit

  • So long, Bob. Good luck.
    • Donald Trump, parting words to Woodward at the conclusion of his 17 interviews in 2020, as quoted by Woodward himself in Rage (2020), p. 384
  • If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare

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