Bob Woodward isn’t a liar. He’s a hero.
Patrick McKelvey | Tuesday, September 18, 2018
On Sept. 11, Bob Woodward released his 12th book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” The nonfiction work chronicles President Trump’s time in office, telling stories of his conduct and incompetence through the eyes of office aides. It sold more than 750,000 copies in its first day on shelves.
Unsurprisingly, the President has denounced Woodward and the book, saying “It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems.” On Sept. 10, he tweeted “Bob Woodward is a liar who is like a Dem operative prior to the Midterms.”
Attacks on the media have been all too commonplace in the nearly two years President Trump has held office. He’s long believed his administration is treated unfairly, that the media ignores his successes and overplays his failures. We’ve all heard the cries of “fake news,” or that the press is the “enemy of the American people.” Just this weekend, the President falsely stated that Hurricane Maria’s 3,000-person death toll is heavily inflated, just an attempt to make him look bad. It isn’t, obviously — the number is supported by several studies, including a government-commissioned report by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. This behavior is all dangerous, it is all unbecoming of the President of the United States. But calling Bob Woodward a liar may be the president’s greatest fiction of all time.
In June of 1972, five men were arrested at 2:30 a.m. inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington. It appeared to be little more than a case of burglary at first glance, when reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were assigned to investigate. But they didn’t leave it at a first glance. With dedication and ingenuity, the two delved further into that night, and realized something no one else had. It wasn’t a burglary. It was a bugging. It was an attempt by the Nixon administration to plant surveillance devices in the DNC offices ahead of the 1972 election.
Woodward and Bernstein continued their investigation into the Nixon administration and its illicit tactics to re-elect the president. Their reports uncovered perhaps the greatest scandal in American history (so far). The president had attempted to cover up the break-in, and used his authority to influence federal officers to try and stop the investigation. Forty White House officials were indicted. Eventually, the House of Representatives introduced articles of impeachment against President Nixon. He resigned on Aug. 9, 1974 — the first sitting president to do so. All thanks to a couple of young, inexperienced reporters.
Bob Woodward is not a liar. He has no “credibility problems.” In fact, he may be the greatest investigative reporter of all time. He’s certainly an American hero. He has lived a life in total and full dedication to the truth, to uncovering the secrets of United States politics that the public deserves to know. Together, he and Carl Bernstein took down the most powerful man in the world. They revealed the failings of our democratic system, they forged an American public that was necessarily less trusting of its elected officials. We all would have lost something if it wasn’t for them.
The president’s attempted takedown of Woodward does nothing to harm the journalist’s reputation. All it does is magnify his trepidation about his own current criminal investigation. President Trump doesn’t care if “Fear” is accurate or not. He’s just afraid himself. And if Woodward is on the case, he probably should be.
Patrick McKelvey splits his time between being a college junior and a grumpy old man. A New Jersey native and American studies major, he plans on pursuing a legal career after graduating Notre Dame. If you can’t find him at the movies, he can be reached for comment at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.