Bob Woodward gives speech on Donald Trump and the presidency


Bob Woodward’s reporting led to Richard Nixon’s resignation as president in the 1970s. Now he’s calling the age of President Trump a “test” for the press.

The reflection came during a Tuesday address to the American Academy of Actuaries’ 2017 annual meeting. 

“This is a test,” Woodward told the group. “Don’t think this is just politics as usual, the way it’s been with other presidents. This is different. Can we survive the test?”

The public doesn’t trust the media, and that’s a problem, Woodward said.

The root of that problem, according to Woodward, comes from “unhinged” media from both sides of the political spectrum and an increasing number of reporters conducting phone and email interviews instead of showing up in-person for them. 

“How does all of this end?” he wondered. “We just don’t know.”

The only certainty, he said, is that something will happen during the Trump administration that could reshape history. It could be Trump reacting to a national crisis or the end of the investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

Woodward also discussed his own experiences with presidential scandal during the Watergate era.

Woodward recalled how his co-worker, Carl Bernstein, woke him with a phone call on the morning President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. The two journalists — and the rest of America — were left in shock, he said.

Woodward only learned why Ford issued the pardon after he interviewed Ford years later.

Amid the Cold War, economic depression and a political turmoil, Ford knew America needed to move on. Woodward recalled Ford’s explanation: An additional three years of the Nixon drama remaining on the nightly news, likely covering a conviction, would have negatively affected the country.

“I had to get Nixon Watergate out of the daily news and into history,” Ford told Woodward. 

 

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