September 10, 2020

"The fact Bob Woodward has written another book about the current occupant of the White House should be greeted with roughly the level of enthusiasm reserved for..."

"... such annual or semi-annual non-events as the Biennial Conference of the American Hippotherapy Association or the Pro Bowl. I would be tempted to suggest that the latest affectless, indifferently written Woodward volume is a matter of at most seasonal interest, like the early September appearance of Halloween candy in supermarkets, except that unlike the former, Rage is unlikely to bring pleasure to any living American.... Why do presidents talk to Woodward? Is it some kind of tradition, cloying but innocuous like the White House Turkey Pardon? His modus operandi is by now fairly well established: Speak to him because if you do not he will publish hundreds of pages of decontextualized gossip from disgruntled agenda-driven current or ex-employees. He will in fact probably do so regardless of what you say to him and when, but why spoil the fun? What Woodward does is not journalism. It is, as Joan Didion memorably put it, 'political pornography.'"

From "There's nothing shocking about Bob Woodward's new book" by Matthew Walther (The Week).

ADDED: On that question "Why do presidents talk to Woodward?," here's Politico, "Behind Woodward’s September surprise: White House aides saw a train wreck coming, then jumped aboard":

In 2018, White House aides shielded Trump from an interview for his book “Fear” because they didn’t want to give the author more ammunition than he already had. The book was withering — portraying the Trump administration suffering a “nervous breakdown” with anecdotes from current and former aides inside and outside the administration. Trump learned about the book late in the process and called Woodward in frustration. “It’s really too bad, because nobody told me about it, and I would have loved to have spoken to you,” he said in audio released by The Washington Post at the time. He made clear to aides that he would participate in the next book, convinced that he could charm and cajole a veteran Washington journalist into seeing his point of view.

At least two sit-downs with the president occurred in the Oval Office — and far more frequently, Trump would call Woodward directly at night with the White House call log as a record.... Trump also urged his senior staff members to grant Woodward access and time.... Often Trump would urge aides to call Woodward directly during the reporting process and kept asking West Wing aides when the book would come out. Throughout the process, several top aides raised concerns among themselves about the access and where it would lead. And they worried about the president’s tendency to overshare his ideas in often blunt language....
Trump’s decision to cooperate was seen as partly based on his respect for the Watergate reporter as an institution.... “Trump loves brands, and Woodward has been the gold standard for 50 years of investigative journalism around the presidency, so it's the same reason why he likes the Gray Lady, he likes The New York Times. It's the paper of record traditionally in his hometown, so even though both excoriate him, he's attracted to them the way a low-IQ small moth would be to a flame,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director under Trump. “Trump is always convinced that if he talks to the person, he is going to elucidate and enlighten that person and get them to like him.”
He's an optimist, that's for sure. And yet he has a "dark" vision, according to the haters.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also helped to persuade Trump to participate in the book and told him that President George W. Bush once cooperated with a Woodward book and it turned out far better as a result, one White House aide said. Graham did not return a call for comment.

Bush’s longtime strategist Karl Rove remembered it differently, however. “Every president does a Bob Woodward book and gives him plenty of interviews and then later comes to regret it, and this is probably one of those instances,” he told Fox News on Wednesday....

65 comments:

Sebastian said...

"the latest affectless, indifferently written Woodward volume is a matter of at most seasonal interest"

Yeah, but what a season.

"It is, as Joan Didion memorably put it, 'political pornography.'"

For prog addicts. Of course, even their addictions are tools.

"From "There's nothing shocking about Bob Woodward's new book" by Matthew Walther (The Week)."

Depends on what the meaning of "there is" is. Shock is a social construct, eagerly constructed by prog constructors.

rehajm said...

Twitter has been fierce with lefties trying to gin up a storm about anything Woodward is saying and the true journalists are calmly imploding everything they are trying to build.

Also, my scandal day election advent calendars are now available for purchase on my website...

Mike Sylwester said...

The walls are closing in !!!

This is the beginning of the end !!!

Money Manger said...

I think Trump generally has far better judgement than he’s given credit for, but what, for god’s sake, is the upside of getting on the phone and talking with Bob Woodward about anything ?

Danno said...

So Woodward is saying Trump should have said things about the covid-19 dempanic that would have caused people to panic?

RMc said...

At least the Pro Bowl is entertaining once in a while.

wild chicken said...

I read the last Woodward book, and was heartened because it was so blah.

The only thing reported that I didn't like about Trump was his too-typical builder attitude toward interest rates. And damned if he didn't jawbone the Fed down to where we didn't have much room to move last spring.

Cheap money is going to wreck everything.

Gusty Winds said...

Deep Throat now = Deep State

Steve said...

Pornography is titillating. Woodward writes the political equivalent of the car manual that people think they need but no one ever seems to read. There is always one bite that grabs news but once you get the full context it’s the equivalent of resetting the change oil light.

Birches said...

Haha. I started reading the post and then thought when I got to Halloween candy, "this must be Walther." Pleased to see I was correct.

tim maguire said...

I haven't read Woodward's book. I won't read Woodward's book. Nothing about it interests me, but the determination on the left to pretend that this, THIS, FINALLY (!) will be what brings down Trump, their continued desperation for an impeachable offense being the clearest indication I see that they know Biden will lose, is pathetic.

For all the claims on twitter (from supposedly respectable journalists!) that Woodward's book will be talked about by historians for generations, the reality is that, two weeks from now, everyone will have forgotten that Woodward wrote another book.

Wince said...

...Woodward has been the gold standard for 50 years of investigative journalism around the presidency...

The most interesting question is how Woodward in the meantime let the story of the greatest politcal scandal of all time fall completely through his hands.

wendybar said...

Progressive Republican Lindsay Graham urged him to. You have to wonder why the Political Class is so afraid of Trump. Probably because their Cushy gigs are up. Trump has gotten more done in 4 years than many of them have in decades. He's making them all look like the selfish Politicians that they are.

Nonapod said...

The first is the only class of persons likely to be aware of the book's existence, namely Woodward's fellow journalists and the rapidly aging subset of upper-middle-class white liberals who will purchase and perhaps even read parts of it.

I'd be surprised if there were anybody under the age of 50 who even knows who Bob Woodward is, let alone be willing to read a book he wrote. And the book itself is probably like the thousandth book written about the bad orange man that purports to take him down. How many tell alls haven been written about Trump now? It seems like every week there's some new book that everyone in the media is all fired up about despite the fact that they're the only people that seem to really care.

traditionalguy said...

Big scandal. The reason Trump and his merry band of virologists shut down the economy was because he knew China Flu was deadly. But he did not terrorize the nation with fears like the ChiComs wanted him to. Time for another Nobel Prize nomination was for public health mastery with a Hydroxichloroquine cluster.

NB: DJT has never blamed Pence and the virologists for anything. He has valued them.

Temujin said...

One after another, year after year, the Left led by their media masters, present one breathless item after another. The entire Journalistic! world stops, breathes heavily for a week, through the Sunday shows, and then...they turn into Emily Litella.

"It's a BOMBSHELL".
(Ten days later) No wait. It's a...uh...what was it we were talking about? Oh...nevermind. Emily

BADuBois said...

The wheels are coming off, the walls are closing in, the chickens are coming home to roost, Part XXXVIII.

TreeJoe said...

I've been enjoying the wall-to-wall media coverage of Woodward's new book the last news cycle.

"Should Woodward have come forward earlier with news trump was downplaying covid?"

I'm sorry, but the President has the discretion - right or wrong - on downplaying or emphasizing information that could cause mass panic. We already have mass-panic on COVID, despite what the President has done. We went from a two week lockdown and "flatten the curve" to massive unending restrictions on people across the nation.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Same Thing Same Way Everyday.... Stupefaction!

Michael K said...

Woodward still depends on a reputation he does not deserve but the left still reveres the man they think took down Nixon, even though it was Mark Felt running a revenge coup against the man who did not promote him.

Leland said...

I like the cut of Matthew Walther's jib. That's how I see these political books. Every now and then, I'll buy one only to renew my opinion that they are the same trope.

Chuck said...

My question to you, Althouse:

Let’s take Trump at his word. That he knew everything about the virus that he should have, per his briefers. Trump knew that the virus was unusually bad, and posed a big problem. But he “didn’t want to cause a panic.”

We Trump haters interpret that as “not wanting to upset the path to re-election.” And not, that Trump was choosing a course of action that was in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the American people.

But let’s take Trump at his word; he genuinely did not want to cause “a panic.” Isn’t it the job of a President to address difficult issues and NOT cause a “panic”? To use all of his powers of communication and persuasion to defuse any panic?

I think it is a massive admission of weakness by the President, to explicitly admit that he could not tell the truth about a crisis because he feared causing a panic that he could not himself control and defeat.

Drago said...

Danno: "So Woodward is saying Trump should have said things about the covid-19 dempanic that would have caused people to panic?"

Precisely.

The democratical complaint now is that Trump failed to create an hysteria driven panic.

Naturally at the time the democraticals were complaining that Trump was creating a crisis out of nothing to take divert attention away from sham-peachment.

But that was all more than 15 minutes ago and history has been reset by the democraticals many times since then.

Expat(ish) said...

I believe Trump probably thought he could charm Woodward.

I guess what I'm wondering is: what did Trump learn about Woodward that he thinks was worth his time.

Can you imagine? "I talked to Woodward for hours and he was terrible at his job." and on and on and on.

-XC

JMW Turner said...

Attempting to placate Woodward could be considered a 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' type of situation no matter what. More monkey shit flung by a long time Democratic operative in a last minute panic.

Steve said...

Woodward’s tacit agreement isn’t that if you are a source he will be kind to you in the final product. If you refuse to play he will savage you. He also lies. Remember when he just walked into the CIA director’s hospital room?

Karga said...

You guys aren't you getting tired with this bullshit. I am in my eighties and I never questioned the fact that my parents made me a Whittie. But now living in a paradise being destroyed with any opportunity to remind me of my white skin I am really questioning the wisdom of my cohabitants on this earth. They are trying desperately to stop Trump getting elected. Did anyone of you has asked why? Obviously this President of yours disrupted a process by the so called deep state and who knows what this was!

Greg The Class Traitor said...

IMO, The Atlantic screwed Woodward. A week pushing an obvious and quickly disproved anti-Trump lie left us in "Boy who cried Wolf!" x 1000.

So I'm not looking at what Woodward has to say, and I must confess I just don't care. "Ho, hum, another press drone is attacking Trump. Must be a day ending in 'y'."

Michael said...

Maybe Trump figures that a continuing parade of "scandals" that turn out to be bogus or nothing-burgers actually helps him, because the voters learn to tune it all out. Maybe he's right. As Stalin might have said: one hit piece is a problem, a hundred is a statistic.

Bilwick said...

Besides, there is no truth but socialist truth, comrades.

Kai Akker said...

Funny to see that Joan Didion reference in the review. Two such different writers, yet they operate in the same zone, don't they -- journalism of the long branch. Woodward is such a pedestrian writer, and Didion is such a perfectionist. Once he had that reportorial sizzle and it was easy to imagine his big books promised a juicy steak. But that rarely materialized when you read one. I think Steve has it exactly right, above. "Resetting the change oil light" -- good one.

Didion, therefore, should be the opposite, in theory. But I have found that Didion is like a food that you eat too much of, and can no longer stomach. To read even a paragraph of her looming-disaster tone sets my teeth on edge; another paragraph, and the nausea impulse gets moving; I have to get away from it. It makes me wonder whether she ever had anything to say, or just was one of those people who found her perfect subject in one particular time of our recent history, the '60s and the early part of the '70s. That awful ominous portentous tone seemed to fit what was going on then! Later, it just seemed like the needle was stuck.


@wild chicken, 8:55 -- Yes, you're right about Trump's attitude toward low interest rates. But the Fed had been doing this for at least eight years even before Trump was elected; the Fed owns this endless credit binge entirely unto its own, IMO. Blame them when their game has run out and there is nothing left to maneuver. Which is pretty close to now, come to think of it.

Howard said...

Porque? Quien es mas macho? Heffe El Trumpo o Roberto La Pluma

tim in vermont said...

Isn’t this the “bombshell”?

""called the United States military ’suckers’ for paying extensive costs to protect South Korea.”

The final nail in the coffin for that Atlantic story? Oh, I guess not because nobody in the media wants it to be. Clearly he was calling the soldiers “suckers” because that is so like him?

Also, why is there no direct quote? Anytime there is not a direct quote, my mental bullshit meter pegs. The “military” is not paying that cost, Congress is.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Biden, Inc.


End White Leftist Privilege Now!

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

If the media repeat the word "Bombshell" over and over... it creates the intent they want.
(D)

William said...

Can anyone remember a single one of the shocking revelations that Woodward detailed in his previous books? He's never topped Watergate. On the plus side, he's aged better than Bernstein....I guess Cohen's book has now been remaindered. Well, it had a good week.....I'd like to read that Playmate of the Year's book, but I guess the NDA forecloses any possibility of that happening. Maybe if the Dems get control of the Senate they can pass a law declaring null and void all NDAs signed with Trump, and they can look into Melania's tax returns in the years prior to her marriage with Trump.

mccullough said...

I didn’t know Woodward wrote a Trump book two years ago.

So now there is Rage as the sequel to Fear.

There is always so much news nowadays that a Woodward book is quaint. Forgettable as a football interview.

lgv said...

Woodward wrote 4 books on the GWB presidency. One was actually quite good. Other than that one, Woodward's work is so formulaic and predictable. He's the John Grisham of non-fiction. He's also learned that anything outside the formula will "garner" criticism from his liberal base.

So, yes, it's the bi-annual feeding to his constituency.

Sam L. said...

Can anyone out there convince me to care about this? I think not.

DanTheMan said...

>>The walls are closing in !!! This is the beginning of the end !!!

Mike, you forgot to say "Bombshell!!!" and "Smoking gun!!!"

I Callahan said...

So Woodward is saying Trump should have said things about the covid-19 dempanic that would have caused people to panic?

This was my exact reaction to this as well. And even though Trump did not cause people to panic, he did immediately shut down flights from China. What did the Dems do? Called him racist for it. Told their constituents to go out and party, enjoy the restaurants, etc.

So it’s awfully rich for Woodward and his media fellow travelers to call this some kind of gotcha.

Tom T. said...

The simple answer is that Trump talks to *everyone.* He's not going to shy away from a hostile audience.

LA_Bob said...

I read part of Fear. The title is based on a quote from Trump ("Real power is, I don't even want to use the word, fear.")

I got tired of the endless anti-Trump gossip on almost every page. More tedious than analytic and revealing. I once had an English friend who said, "If you want to find fault, you needn't look far." True.

J. Farmer said...

Accidentally commented in the wrong post...

Woodward is the court reporter of the establishment. He is part of what Walter Lippmann was talking about when he describes the "manufacture of consent." Half access journalist, half gossip columnist who has been coasting for nearly 50 years. Has anyone heard Woodward utter an original idea since 1972? Joan Didion's evisceration of him in the New York Review of Books from the mid-90's remains as accurate today.

9/10/20, 10:04 AM

Skeptical Voter said...

Woodwards reputation is going down as fast as the Titanic.

William said...

De gustibus and all that, but I much prefer porno pornography to political pornography. I hope that Playmate's book is lavishly illustrated. Her revelations might be worth looking at. Sure to be a big best seller. She has a lot more credibility than Stormy Daniels and her sleazy lawyer. America needs her book.....Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Doesn't the nature of our national emergency justify suspending all of Trump's NDAs?

Kevin said...

We're almost four years in.

Who's showing more evidence of a "nervous breakdown" -- the White House of the media?

gerry said...

LOL. Another brilliant President Trump re-election tactical deployment takes effect.

Woodward tediously cries wolf again and solidifies Biden's support from people who already strongly support Biden. Everyone else sees an aged useful idiot that craps out another political-exposure volume every four years (or so) that ends up in the bargain bin one week after its debut (as usual). Woodward helps Trump prove yet again that the MSM establishment - of which Woodward is a senior member - is just Dan Rather all over again.

Joe Smith said...

Personally, I would ban him and anyone from the NYT or WP from the White House grounds.

If they're going to hate you no matter what you do, why make it easier for them?

Skippy Tisdale said...

Woodward has been the gold standard for 50 years of investigative journalism around the presidency

America went off the gold standard in 1971.

Nichevo said...


Chuck said...
My question to you, Althouse:


Problem, Meadehouse: you letting this two-legged blivet's posts slip through from time to time, erroneous or not, increases the believability of anti de-Sitter space's claims that you censor some of his posts for content.

Either jam these two full time, or pass them full time, or block LLR Used Toilet Paper full time and pass de-Shitter full time. Otherwise you're picking and choosing, and what does that mean?

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

I agree with Mollie Hemingway's take: from now until election day, there is going to be a "bombshell" revelation about Trump every few days. And absolutely nobody except the media DNC fluffers and their fanbase of dememted TDS sufferers will take those "bombshells" seriously. It's all become white noise.

chuck said...

I read one of Woodward's books and was impressed by the number of imagined conversations. Haven't read any since.

Ambrose said...

You can almost hear the stage manager shouting in the background; "OK the Atlantic piece didn't stick. Next! Woodward, you're on!"

cubanbob said...

The Democrats have a problem. Everyone of their bombshells turn out to be a dud. They need A Come To Jesus meeting with their ammo suppliers on the production QC.

Gunner said...

He only does this shit to Republican Presidents.

wendybar said...

Jonathan Karl from ABC is a dickwad. They wonder why Americans HATE the media, look no further than the blatant disrespect Trumps Press conference questioning from the asshole Karl today. Imagine if any Conservative reporter asked Obama the same question in the same tone the ass did today?? Riots would have started earlier.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Blogger Chuck said...
Let’s take Trump at his word. That he knew everything about the virus that he should have, per his briefers. Trump knew that the virus was unusually bad, and posed a big problem. But he “didn’t want to cause a panic.”

We Trump haters interpret that as “not wanting to upset the path to re-election.” And not, that Trump was choosing a course of action that was in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the American people.

But let’s take Trump at his word; he genuinely did not want to cause “a panic.” Isn’t it the job of a President to address difficult issues and NOT cause a “panic”? To use all of his powers of communication and persuasion to defuse any panic?


So, Chuck, you've got 10 months of hindsight here. Tell us exactly what trump should have said to "avoid panic".

Then tell us how the Democrats and the Media (BIRM) would have responded to Trump saying those things.

Also, since words don't matter, and actions do, what actions should President Trump have taken that he didn't take? When should he have taken them? What Democrats were calling for those actions at the time?

And what would Democrats have done if he'd taken those actions.

If you can't come up with reasonable answers to those questions, then you have no grounds for attacking Trump for what he did do.

Michael K said...

We Trump haters interpret that as “not wanting to upset the path to re-election.” And not, that Trump was choosing a course of action that was in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the American people.

Poor Chuck, reduced to this drivel.

Nichevo said...

Don't make demands of the LLR right now. He's busy soiling himself because PDT is bringing FIVE Japanese auto manufacturers to Michigan. Pretty soon nobody will even hire him as a poll watcher and then how can he pay for his Victory Gin?

Drago said...

Who doesn't love it when Trump goes to Michigan and goes after LLR-lefty Chuck's marxist hero democratical Governor witless Whitmer and Senator "what's his name"?

I can just picture Chuckles sitting there with his Maddow blow up doll, Netflix "Cuties" playing on the telly, about 7 G&T's lined up while sucking his thumb.

J. Farmer said...

@Greg the Class Traitor:

If you can't come up with reasonable answers to those questions, then you have no grounds for attacking Trump for what he did do.

Well, saying that Democrats screwed up, too, isn't much of a defense. But that's why the establishment loves partisanship. When the system doesn't work, people can always point fingers to the other side and say it was all their fault.

ken in tx said...

Dana Parino said that the Bush administration tried both ways of dealing with Woodward and his books. One was to cooperate with him and the other was to ignore him. The result was the same in both cases, a negative screed against Bush.

walter said...

Nichevo said.Pretty soon nobody will even hire him as a poll watcher and then how can he pay for his Victory Gin?
--
BAG is a stand-up guy! Though that might require a dozen Pro-Trump posts from Chuck(!).

walter said...

Does anyone enjoy that cloying cadence of Woodward? It seems on the spectrum.