You’d have to be avoiding the news with some resolve not to know that “Fear,” the new book by journalist Bob Woodward, was released today. The bestseller, which details chaos and ineptitude in the Trump administration, is based on hundreds of interviews – many with confidential sources inside the White House.
The WH – following the time-tested strategies used by previous presidents – is attacking the book’s veracity. The criticism, however, isn’t exactly hurting sales. As we write this, “Fear” is literally flying off the shelves. In fact, Amazon is sold out.
For those of you about to indulge, or just wondering what all the fuss is about, here are four things to know about the author:
1. He’s immortalized in film. It’s been 44 years since “All The President’s Men” made Woodward and Carl Bernstein two of the most respected reporters in the history of journalism. The 1976 film version of that whodunit political classic — starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford — chronicled “Woodstein’s” coverage of “Watergate,” which was primarily based on an anonymous source nicknamed “Deep Throat.
For journalists our age, the dogged and dangerous investigative work done by Woodward and Bernstein is often cited as the reason we entered the field.
2. He is the epitome of the fact-finding reporter.When he uncovers corruption, abuse of power, and/or incompetence, he starts digging deeper. Sources talk to him because (a) he has a track record for protecting whistleblowers and (b) his books turn out to be historically accurate.
He’s captured two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting and the enmity of many of his subjects — including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now, Donald Trump.
During Garry’s on-air conversation last week with Guy Gordon of WJR 760, when excerpts of Woodward’s book made news, Gordon pointed out that Woodward is an “equal opportunity irritant.”
3. He’s been a guest-speaker here at OU. In fact, the current ruckus reminds us of Woodward’s visit to Oakland University in 2007 as part of a tour to promote “State of Denial” — his third book about George W. Bush.
Woodward said he interviewed Bush for more than three hours for the book, which details the Bush administration’s effort to withhold some information from the public and Congress about the rationale to go to war in Iraq in 2003.
“I wake up every morning haunted by what we don’t know,” Woodward told students and faculty.
Asked by a student about the greatest threat that the U.S. faces in the post 9/11 world, Woodward responded in a way that shows his watchdog mindset:
“Government secrecy. That’s what will do us in,” he said. “People want to know the truth. Instead, they get secrecy. There is an absolute obsession with keeping the truth from getting out.”
4. He’s stubbornly non-ideological. Indeed, he says he never votes: “After 40 years, you see so many hopes dashed,” he said while talking in 2009 to the Financial Times.
Indeed, the last time Bob Woodward voted was back in 1968 – for Richard Nixon.
You can listen to Garry’s chat with Guy Gordon below.