Bob Woodward: He brought down Richard Nixon; is Trump next?

Ben Bradlee (L), a former Washington Post executive editor, and Bob Woodward, a former Post reporter, pose for a photo during a tour of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, inside the Nixon birthplace home before their discussion about the Watergate Hotel burglary and stories for the Post, in Yorba Linda, California in this April 18, 2011. [File, Reuters]

United States President Donald Trump revealed to the veteran American journalist Bob Woodward that he knew that coronavirus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and deadly, weeks before US reported its first confirmed coronavirus death and that he repeatedly played it down publicly.

"I wanted to always play it down," Trump said in an interview with Woodward on March 19. The remarks were made public after a CNN preview of the book "Rage," due to be published on September 15.

According to the book, Trump admitted that he tried to minimize the seriousness of the threat from Covid-19 at the outset of the pandemic.

"It goes through the air… That's always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed,” he told the author.

The confession has caused fury among the Americans, and added pressure to Trump, only eight weeks before the November 3 presidential election.

The Republican president has been criticized over the slow government response to the Covid-19 pandemic but played down the crisis.

So far, the country has recorded 6,549,475 coronavirus cases- world’s highest number of infections- with a total of 195,239 Covid-19 related deaths.

Who is Bob Woodward?

Robert Upshur Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is an American investigative journalist. 

According to Britannica, Woodward grew up in Wheaton, Chicago, where his father was a prominent jurist. He enrolled at Yale University. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history and English literature in 1965, Woodward began a five-year tour of duty as a communications officer.

Woodward, a legendary journalist and associate editor of the Washington Post has come to be known as the man who not only shakes but also topples political giants with his work. 

However, “Rage” isn’t Woodward's first major journalistic stunt that’s making a country of 328 million people talk about one thing. Early in his career in 1972 as Washington Post reporter, Woodward together with Carl Bernstein were at the forefront of the investigative reporting that uncovered the Watergate scandal- a scandal that found the Nixon administration responsible for the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C. Watergate Office Building by five perpetrators together with the attempted cover-up of the same.

He would later write a book, All the President's Men which would be adopted as a movie and win the Oscars.

Former President Richard Nixon waves to photographers as he prepares to get into his car at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, May 20, 1987. REUTERS/Jean-Claude Delmas

It is the follow-up of Woodward and Bernstein’s story through numerous government investigations that would later lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974 making him the first United States president to resign. 

But Woodward’s career as a journalist started about two years before his big story on the Watergate scandal that would later earn the Washington Post a Pulitzer for public service.

According to Britannica, although it was widely thought that Woodward would follow his father’s footsteps and be an accomplished lawyer, he turned down his admission to Harvard Law school and instead petitioned the Washington Post editors for a two-week unpaid internship.

Even though none of the stories he submitted were published, the editors saw potential in Woodward and referred him to Montgomery County Sentinel where he worked for about a year. With better skills and a little experience, Woodward would be given a second chance at the Washington Post. 

Not long from then, he would be sent for what would be assumed to be a simple burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. Woodward together with Bernstein eventually connected the break-in to the highest levels of the administration of U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon.

In the years that followed, the Investigative journalist would come to be known better for his book on power, politics and the administration in Washington rather than his journalistic work.

At the turn of the century, Woodward led a team that would earn the Post another Pulitzer for the paper’s coverage of repercussions of the September 11 attacks in the United States.

According to Britannica, Woodward would go-ahead to release a series of books the same year offering an inside look at the administration of President George W Bush. Bush at War (2002) profiled the personalities who shaped the American military response in Afghanistan, while Plan of Attack (2004) covered the period leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. State of Denial (2006), a departure from the generally complimentary tone found in the previous two works, provided a scathing dissection of the missteps and unheeded advice that continued to undermine the administration’s war efforts. His fourth volume in the series, The War Within (2008), offered a harsh assessment of the president.

Woodward was also a critic of Barack Obama’s handling of the automatic US budget cuts. He ended up calling the president’s decision to hold back on military deployments “madness.” According to Woodward, Obama was wrong for drawing national security into the budget debate.

He went ahead to write an opinion piece in the Washington Post saying the administration was “wrong” to blame the cuts on Republicans.

The famed Journalist was quoted by Reuters saying “So we now have the president going out (saying) ‘Because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.’ That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

The 77-year-old considered to be the best Print Journalist in the United States has also been critical of the Trump administration which he presented a highly critical account of his first years as president in his book, In Fear: Trump in the White House (2018).

His new book “Rage” reveals that Trump was aware of the severity of the coronavirus even before it took the first American life but decided on downplay it. The Washington Post editor conducted over 18 interviews with Trump in the span of 8 months making the basis of the book.

Woodward has co-authored or authored thirteen No. 1 national bestselling non-fiction books and “Rage” has already propelled to third spot on Amazon bestseller list following Wednesday 9th August’s release of the cover and title by Simon & Schuster. The book is due to be published on 15 September 2020.

Woodward has shaken and even toppled Presidents. From the look of things, this is not even close to his last dance with any administration.