WOODWARD DEFENDS DECISION TO WITHHOLD TRUMP’S VIRUS COMMENTS
Bob Woodward, facing widespread criticism for only now revealing President Donald Trump’s early concerns about the severity of the coronavirus, told the Associated Press (AP) on Wednesday that he needed time to be sure that Trump’s private comments from February were accurate.
In Woodward’s upcoming book on Trump, “Rage,” the president is quoted saying the virus was highly contagious and “deadly stuff” at a time he was publicly dismissing it as no worse than the flu. Woodward, the celebrated Washington Post journalist and best-selling author, spoke with Trump 18 times for his book, reported Hillel Italie and David Bauder for AP.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward told the AP during a telephone interview. Using a famous phrase from the Watergate era, when Woodward’s reporting for the Post helped lead to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, Woodward said his mission was to determine “What did he know and when did he know it?”
On Twitter and elsewhere online, commentators accused Woodward of valuing book sales over public health. “Nearly 200,000 Americans have died because neither Donald Trump nor Bob Woodward wanted to risk anything substantial to keep the country informed,” wrote Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce.
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