Poor Bob Woodward. Poor us. His new book on the Trump White House, “Fear,” was released this week, and its author has been making the rounds. But we’ve seen this movie before: Internationally known author writes book about President Donald Trump that will make all liberal dreams come true. The “expose” of Mr. Trump as Lord of the Flies, ruling over a dystopian, dysfunctional White House.
Or not. Yet, Mr. Woodward, one of the more storied journalists in our history, has decided the Michael Wolff school of book-selling is the new ticket. “Fear” will likely land at No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list, and there will be a cable mini-series deal, all enriching Mr. Woodward. But when it comes to imparting the truth to the American public? Not so much.
You’ll recall Mr. Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” released in January 2018, was going to be the tome that took down the president. Instead, the author admitted he wasn’t sure what was true and what wasn’t in his own book, revealed he knew people had lied to him, but he “wanted the reader to judge” the accuracy for themselves.
In other words, he had written something so unreliable, it is now considered satisfying and lip-smacking Trump-hater fan fiction.
Nine months after the Wolff book imploded, liberals and the Trump-hating establishment are celebrating the arrival of another baby, this one named “Fear,” hoping it will deliver the fatal blow against their nemesis. They will be disappointed.
Now peddling his book about Mr. Trump, we could have hoped we would get an honest depiction of the White House. Any fair portrayal would reflect both positive and negative aspects, but when you have something meant to shape opinion deliberately in a particular direction, suspicion is the public’s ally.
The Woodward book, like Mr. Wolff’s, relies on unnamed sources who make extraordinary claims about statements and attitudes concerning the president’s closest advisers. Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis have both denied, vociferously, claims made in “Fear” about comments they supposedly made about the president. And it is Mr. Woodward’s response in an interview that casts the Wolff shadow upon him.
In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “Today Show,” Ms. Guthrie broached the issue of Messrs. Mattis and Kelly, both former Marine Corps generals, denying what comments about Mr. Trump attributed to them in the book, and why people should trust him despite his use of anonymous sources. His answer was extraordinary:
Savannah Guthrie: “… It is mostly anonymous sources in here. Why should people trust you?”
Bob Woodward: “Uh, because, um, but the incidents are not, not anonymous. Uh, you, it gives a date, it gives a time, who participates. Most often the president himself and what he says. …”
Think about this: Mr. Woodward, being questioned about the veracity of quotes attributed to specific people, explains they are true because the events within which they were supposedly uttered aren’t anonymous.
In Mr. Woodward’s world, the White House exists and meetings happen, so whatever we’re told about what’s said in those meetings, must be true.
Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. But he doesn’t stop there.
SG: “… You have John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, um, calling the president an idiot, saying we’re in Crazytown. That’s a quote. John Kelly now says that never happened, I didn’t say it. Jim Mattis, another person quoted as saying the president’s understanding is like a fifth- or sixth-grader. He comes out subsequently and says I didn’t say it. Are they lying?”
BW: “Uh, they are not telling the truth.”
SG: “(crosstalk) That’s lying?”
BW: “No, but look, what’s going on here and uh, my old boss at The Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, the great editor, used to say the truth emerges. Sometimes it takes time. These people, these are political statements to protect their jobs.”
Ultimately, Ms. Guthrie tries to ask whether or not these men said these things directly to Mr. Woodward. Were they his sources? He obfuscates because they weren’t his sources, of course.
Neither former Marine Corps general would say those things about their commander in chief to anyone, let alone Bob Woodward. But someone else, intending to cause chaos and distrust, would. Anonymous sources are willing to tell Mr. Woodward (and others) anything to achieve a goal meant to harm the president and this country because they’re mad their team was defeated in 2016.
Mr. Woodward insists other reporters “heard” the same quotes about Messrs. Mattis and Kelly. That’s interesting, almost like someone was trying to get a narrative going. And here is Bob “Watergate” Woodward defending his work by admitting it was essentially gossip among the press corp.
Like with every other false fever dream pushed by the establishment, this, too, will be exposed as false. The fake Russia dossier, the smear of Anthony Scaramucci on CNN, the Michael Wolff book, the fake Trump Tower Russia meeting story peddled by Lanny Davis to CNN — just a few examples of the slurs meant to inflict enduring damage on the president, and all debunked.
Nota bene to Mr. Woodward: Ben Bradlee was right, the truth does emerge, and it has never been good news for those targeting Donald Trump.