Joseph Klein, The art of misleading readers under the guise of reporting.
Bob Woodward continues his promotion tour for his new book Rage with television interviews and the release of more tantalizing excerpts from tapes of his 18 interviews with President Trump. But Woodward has not simply reported on his discussions with President Trump and high level administration officials. He is using his book as a bludgeon to help defeat President Trump for re-election, stringing together out-of-context quotes along with Woodward’s own biased negative interpretations of President Trump’s words and actions.
During Woodward’s September 13th interview on 60 Minutes, his interviewer Scott Pelley remarked to Woodward: “It might disappoint some of your fans that you reach an editorial conclusion at the end of this book, something that reporters are not supposed to do.” Woodward replied: “Yes. I say the president is the wrong man for the job.” At least, Woodward said on the record where he is coming from. His book should be reported as an in-kind contribution to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
Woodward’s latest attempt to manufacture a bombshell was his release of a taped excerpt from his January 22nd interview with President Trump. During this interview, President Trump spoke of his relationship with Turkey’s President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. “I get along very well with Erdogan,” President Trump told Woodward. “Even though you’re not supposed to, because everyone says ‘What a horrible guy.’ But for me it works out good.” The president added that “the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them. You’ll explain that to me some day, OK? But maybe it’s not a bad thing. The easy ones are the ones I maybe don’t like as much, or don’t get along with as much.”
During his appearance on the Today show Monday, Woodward used the out-of-context tape excerpt to claim that President Trump in effect “has said — and there it is — ‘Hey, look. I get along with these bad guys, but not the good guys.’” Woodward deliberately recast President Trump’s actual quote into something more sinister sounding and tried to make something out of absolutely nothing.
President Trump gets along very well with “the good guys” in the free world. For example, President Trump has a strong bond with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Both men are like-minded populists and nationalists. In praising Boris Johnson upon his election as prime minister, President Trump said, “Good man, he’s tough and he’s smart.”
President Trump also has a strong relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s strong,” President Trump said about Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2019. President Trump has been Israel’s most reliable friend in the White House since President Harry Truman.
In addition, President Trump has forged close personal relationships with Japan’s departing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both of whom President Trump has described as tough and good friends.
Bob Woodward failed to understand from his 18 interviews with President Trump that the president sees himself as a tough leader who likes the challenge of dealing with and triumphing over tough counterparts when America’s national interest is at stake. President Trump has shown no hesitation using military or economic pressure as he deemed necessary against America’s adversaries, whose leaders the president has described as tough. Just ask the leaders of China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Syria whether they really think they have a cowering friend in the White House.
President Trump has also taken tough stances vis a vis our allies in order to obtain more contributions from them for their defense and to secure fairer trade deals for the United States. Sometimes even good friends require tough love.
President Trump has also turned the economic screws against Erdogan when he felt Turkey’s dictator needed a reminder of who has the upper hand in a dispute between the two countries. That’s what led Erdogan’s regime to finally release the American pastor Andrew Brunson, who had endured a 24-month detention in Turkey.
Talking about Erdogan, where was Woodward back in 2012 when President Barack Obama boasted that Erdogan was one of the five world leaders with whom he had his most trusted working relationships? The other leaders were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Notably missing from Obama’s list of trusted foreign leaders was Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In 2011, Obama had spoken to Erdogan by phone at least 9 times. Only the leaders of the United Kingdom and Germany spoke with Obama more often.
In September 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden met with Erdogan for a photo op and a private meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in New York during the United Nations’ annual high-level General Assembly week. “Congratulations on the election, old friend,” Biden said to Erdogan with a broad smile on his face.
In 2016, after Erdogan put down what was characterized as an attempted “coup” against his authoritarian rule and proceeded to widen his crackdown on peaceful dissenters and journalists, Obama called the dictator with a show of support. Obama told Erdogan that the United States would “provide appropriate assistance” to Erdogan’s investigation of the uprising.
Bob Woodward did the same thing in his book and interviews regarding President Trump’s quotes about Erdogan as Woodward had done regarding the president’s quotes on the coronavirus. Woodward sought to use these quotes and others to feed the Democrat and mainstream media’s bogus narrative that President Trump is unfit for the presidency. As for Obama, never mind.
“I think journalism gets measured by the quality of information it presents, not the drama or the pyrotechnics associated with us,” Bob Woodward said about his profession back in 1996. By that measure, Bob Woodward has failed his own test with his latest book on the Trump presidency.
Bob Woodward could have simply reported what President Trump said on the record and provided context with factual accounts of the actions President Trump took in relation to the subject matter of each of his quotes on major issues that Woodward included in his book. But Woodward chose the low road instead. He indulged in hyped drama to help along the cause of defeating President Trump for re-election. Woodward gave himself away during his 60 Minutes interview when he declared that “the president is the wrong man for the job.”
Woodward’s own right job would be as another leftwing political commentator on CNN or MSNBC.