« Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Bob Woodward

2020-10-08 | 🔗
Bob Woodward is an American investigative journalist that started working for the Washington Post in 1971 and currently holds the title of associate editor. Dax discusses how bipartisan Bob’s reporting has been over the years, his rigorous search of the truth and how Bob has covered 20% of the presidents this country has had. Bob talks about the difference between a good faith f*ck up and a bad faith f*ck up, getting spontaneous calls from the president when he was writing his book, and the relationship that developed out of that process. The two discuss the handling of the virus and the inability to put together a cohesive plan. And most importantly, Dax asks who more accurately captured Bob in film, Robert Redford or Will Ferrell.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome. Welcome! Welcome to arm chair expert STAR, a man plaid made. An offer Dan Rather's get they saw. You This is an addition of experts on expert hers down by the way I want to just drop by hand that were putting together a couple more show. And I'm getting so excited. Hopefully, people want to be with us more throughout the week because we got more comment: yeah, yes, so today we have without question the most lead dairy journalist to ever live in a country Bob Woodward. He is an american investigative journalist. He started working for the Washington Post as Rapporteur nineteen seventy one and is currently the associate editor in nineteen.
The need to Woodward and Karl Bernstein famously did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations in the eventual resignation of President Nixon. He has covered nine president's overfished The years now do you want to say one thing: One leans political, but the only thing I would plead the folks to give it Chance is simply that Bob has been critical of both sides of theirs ever been a journalist who attacked fraudulent and lies, both sides of the Isle. It is Bob so earn the right for anyone on the right to listen to him as he has earned the right for anyone. The left to listen to him agreed his books books, Obama's wars. All the president's men, the brethren inside the Supreme Court, fear Trump in the White House in his new book rage, so please enjoy Bob Woodward
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commander was yelling at Chevy Chase, and he said this isn't some Fucking Woodward and Bernstein Bullshit, and I asked my mom what is Woodward and Bernstein my education started. There You, listen to things like that. Yeah and look. It resulted in a successful career in comedy. So maybe it was the right move. Listen! I was looking up something about you and you talk about, the mess seen us of the human condition or about human beings, and I wanted to just address that idea, because I think that success right. Human beings are messy So when you have a president of the United States is super messy. He takes
and everything is, magnified a thousand fold ten thousand fold, so the messy nurse a bad person gets delivered in the everyone's life were of its just somebody down the street, whose messy you can deal with that, but in this case It's all of us well, and I think to the thing that we are very interested in this comes from me. Bein in recovery. Attic is, I learned more from people's struggles than I learn from their triumphs right right. You have a lot of awards I'll, never achieve, but I'm sure you've stumbled in ways in your life that you could teach me a lot about, and so that's pretty much my interests. Mine too, when you make a mistake, you grow when something works out. You become self centered
five in smuggling, arrogant law that had me just described me to attend. It feel indulge me we're generally a political, because we talk about messages that I care more about them. Politics and I dont want to eliminate any one. So for any one that might associated you with Nixon and now this book they would. Maybe be inclined if they don't know a lot about. You d think that you're somehow a partisan reporter, and so I just with your permission, I'd like to outline just a few times that I believe you're, just a rigorous searcher of the truth, and I think you ve blasted both sides and that you ve been incredibly fair in your reporting or your lifetime. Well, thank you. That's nice minutes the goal, but I've slipped up a number of times, but go ahead yeah. So I just wanted to say that obviously you and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal and that resulted in the resignation of Richard Nixon
and then, since then you ve written nineteen books. I guess this is the twentieth and wrote you no fourteen best sellers, its incredibly impressive, but in nineteen eighty six, you broke the United States campaign, finance controversy which expose China's donations to the democratic national committees. Again. There is a case where, whatever your politics are, I don't know, but certainly it didn't prevent you from exposing. On my side of the ILO and more over and this one may embarrass you a little bit. You just said we all make mistakes, but you know you wrote for books in your career about Bush and there was even a period where you did believe him that they had WMD evidence and even publicly stated at don't say that to embarrass you, I say that to point out that you are not partisan in your party. Well, I try not to be take the question of George W
who invaded Iraq taking their weapons of mass destruction. This is two thousand and three before the invasion. I wrote a front page story in Washington. Post, quoting CIA source saying we do not have smoking gun intelligence, that there is WMD in Iraq. Now I did not realize what I had written, because if you say there's not smoking on intelligence. That means you don't have hard intelligence, That means you're, not sure, and I should have realise what somebody was saying to me and I failed miserably on that front, and I, if I would just have read in undressed,
good, bye, own words where I was always somebody I would have been converted the story and it would have been uncertainty about WMD in Iraq before the invasion and not Woodard have made in any difference God, no but it's a really wonderful thing to be in journalism in you. Learn and I haven't been fired yet because there is a realization there's what called good faith fuck up and then there's faith, fuck fate and a good faith. Fuck up is that where I didn't realize what I was being told. I didn't realize what I had written and all the editors at the Washington Post, who were very smart. One of them could have come over to me and tap me on the shoulder and say
hey. Do you realize what you're saying here this is a g about for a good faith? Does perfect term for us to use as we get into this guys. I'm. I am curious. What you're take ways are on some of the fuck ups that have happened. But again I just wanna put one more pain on your chest as far as your by partisan ism, is that you also critical of the Obama administration for their role in the United States federal budget sequester, and I again I just think it's really I'm sure you loved Obama, I loved Obama, but I don't think that's good in the way of you wanting to expose the truth, and so I just want to go into this setting up the fact that I have to imagine as you started this project. Well, I suppose it started with fear your first book about Trump. Yes right in two thousand and eighteen in two thousand and eighteen did you enter that process? You couldn't live on planet earth and not have an opinion about Trump that wouldn't
be possible, but you must have some safeguards that you have some some system that keeps you objective and I'm really curious how that operates in your mind I'm gonna bring my wife in here safeguard. We live this altogether. She added the new book rage, Sometimes can you imagine that why, listen to me, calling me a weekend or ten o clock at night because he would call spontaneously. I had to carry my little tape recorder around, so I wouldn't miss an opportunity to record the call, because I told from
that's what I was gonna do do. This was all on the record, and so the first time she picked up the phone and a voice said is Bob. There now also said yes, who's calling said Donald Trump and said: oh, Mr President, now getting him, and so he had to his conversations and she would listen frequently and if you ve got through the book one of the times in early April. I done some reporting and realized that experts were telling me that it was important for Trump to launch a full scale mobilization of the country and the virus, there were fourteen areas, including testing, international cooperation, vaccines and so forth, and I went through it with him in else's listening and
He said to me at the end. She said your shouting at him any itself like you're telling him what to do Elsa said you know you're not supposed to tell him what to do, which is true. We developed the kind of relationship where I could push him and I could say things that I think is a could not say to him when you're interacting with them. First, when you say you get a call from the president, my first thought is like I panic when the food delivery calls and I'm nervous I'm going to lose signal. So I can't even imagine what the anxiety of of your signal services just being out of the president, but second Lee? You must always be trying to ride the line of being directs and getting the info. You want and also not turning off your subjects so that they are no longer interested in talking to you, I almost feel like it's. It's almost a Roma
take relationship of pursuing and then laying off. So it is there a dance there with when you feel like you could make those assertions and when you feel like, why still want to be able to talk to him while yes, but I think he decided to because he denounced my first book- fear and said it's pure fiction and said I'm a democratic operative and then people will work for him. A couple of you said you know, Mr President, and it's all true and Trump said it's all it's true. She, I should have talked to him for that book, which even so I'll talk to him for this book, and so he agreed to do it. I said it's going to all beyond the record: I'm recording it the book I come out before the election and I think there's something in him that wants to be pushed by train, I think, because he's a one man band is president the chief of staff,
Kind of say will wait a minute. Should we do in trouble? Go now what we're doing a real tweeted out all with no maybe no discussion, so it was. You know that I'm not a psychiatrist, I will not add to be, but there's some gravitational pull, for instance, ok, the last call was a month ago August fourteen the book was done and he called unexpected and Elsa came in and she said it's the White House. It's president Trump wants to talk to you and the book was done, and so I went. Oh no god he's calling again. Turn it down. So we get on the line and I said the books closer. Can't we get something about the Israel. U S? U way are peace agreement because it signal
and I agree it's significant. I said the books closed. It's printed it's done, but I need to tell you that it's a tough book, I'm going to make some judgments that you don't like, and he said well like what and I said well just I didn't want to get specific and have an argument, but I wanted to the of Miranda warning that what we ve done, maybe you're not gonna like completely. I brought up something about the corona virus. I said that such a big deal, the elections gonna be about the virus. In my view, and he said you really victor? What about the economy- and I said there related this- you Know- and he said a little bit and I said little bit yeah said well no lot and then, at the end he said, looks like not gonna. Get you on this book I'll, get you home the next
When I heard it on sixty minutes year, it was great segment on you and yes, this very jovial attempt to say like there might still be light at the end of that. This tunnel is a very, I feel, revealing aspect of his personality, but yeah, please continue here, so we hope that this can be tough. And so long and then an hour and a half later he tweeted out the Bob Woodward Book is gonna, be fake. At least he heard me he didn't tune out he tuned in yeah, okay, let's walk for First of all, I am reading the book right now. I'm not finished, but I absolutely love it forget. Whatever interest, I had trumpet himself learning about you know, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson people. I didn't really know how they came to be a part of that organization and learning. You know a good deal about them, they're, very fascinating, interesting characters when he He asked Rex Tiller soon to become the Secretary of State Rex tellers.
Who did not necessarily desire that pose said. I want to look him in the face and ask him three questions and one way I gotta choose my team. Will you let me choose my team, the other one was you know I gotta get a promise: you're not gonna, withdraw your nomination, and then the last was I don't ever want to be in a public feud with you. If we have an issue, I want to handle it privately and I'm curious. How did those three things turn out? What happened tillers and was off? the job in a meeting that he had with Trump and he called his wife, and he said you won't believe what happened. Did she said he offered you secretary, his table
and he said how did you know that said well, because I knew that you it was. You were kind of board, he was just leaving been head of Exxon Mobile dash. His successor was picked. He was going out. He and his wife have a horse farm outside of Dallas and boy. They're gonna write the sources, and so he thinks you know. Maybe I better take this job. This is number one cabinet job. He really told me he would give me cell phone. You would be available any time that there are three things: the three things you said I want his word down, so he told this to income in chief of Staff Reign Supreme. As in previous said. Well, what are they until us and said? No, I want to talk to the President elect directly, so we went up the Trump tower and laid them out to drop and said no problem at all. Now he really
did lead. Him pick his team in a way, but you know it was never complete. He did withdraw, withdraw her since nomination, but they had endless public views which are extending to today were from fired him by tweet and then publicly went on saturdays, dumb ass, a rock n look? Look you can make your judgment of people when you bring them out of the position of having hundreds of millions of dollars. I guess till her son was worth
and say at the end of your career? I want you to take a another job than would Tillerson reason. He had never served his country in the military and he felt guilty about it and he said now. This is an opportunity, I'm going to do it, so he said yes and he got these pledges personally from Trump and then Trump. You know just crushes him and excoriates him publicly and the a version of the happens to so many people who work for Trump and it's hazardous duty. It's always hazardous duty, being secretary of Defense, Secretary of State Dan Coates, head of intelligence, but they all are people like coats, public and senator from India for sixteen years, evangelical Christian he and his wife Mercer
the wild boar go into retirement and pants. Who was one of them friends from Indiana, the the vice president said said: you want a job and coach said no, Don't want a job. Well come talk to the President elect so he comes and talks. they say, we're going to offer you the number one intelligence job. Well, that's the Trump inner circle, let's dealing with the state secrets, its oversight the CIA National Security Agency. It's a wonderful job, backed Obama. Once said to me, when I was, doing an interview with Obama. I had so much time to dig out what Obama had done about the war in Afghanistan and so forth. So I knew a lot because of time. and Obama said. Have you ever thought of book mean CIA director, more head of intelligence,
I know that's not a job offer and he said no, it's not a job, so is attempting job, so coach took it and the way Trump treated him Dan Coats is some but he's got a moral and religious center to him, and how do you like that or agree with that? Well, that was almost weaponized against these guys. So, even when you bring up rex right, his wife also said God's got bigger plans for you right. There is part of this commitment to, serving the country. A commitment to you know his God, as he understands them, and James Mattis right. He, I don't think he personally wanted that job, but he, as he said he is committed to working for the constitution, to defending the constitution. So there's this higher calling that trumps whatever. Well, not pun, intended trumps, whatever reservations they have. So these men are generally making really principal decisions to join this team
He understands the buttons on somebody, psychological console and he knows you're going to serve the country. We're going to have direct access. You'll have my cell phone number we're never going to have a public We're going to do this right and people are coming in and saying wow. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and what they quickly discover is there's no plan, there's no organist Asian crop is this one man band who will sit in decide minutes almost like part of his mind, is a roulette wheel. You don't know what to come. Is it's gonna say: oh I'll, take the green one or I'll take double zero and it it drives. People who were rational, crazy- and I quote matters the Secretary of Defence same what's interesting about this- is that the people who believe
in Trump, don't believe what he says, but they still believe in him eyes is going to say. Yes, I do think people underestimate the importance value in reality of an emotional true. So there is, there is a lot of jet of factual layer that were incorporated into living, but then we're so very emotional, human beings, and we want a discount that- and I think it's an error to do so. So something emotionally feels true and I'm not one to try to argue that point with anyone. If I may say you use this phrase, emotional truth, it's a household word around here, my wife Elsa. She used to work for the post. She was a staff writer for the worker for years and she wrote a book called divided lives about three women who are pulled to family job family job.
I've been, you are divided, split, split and talks talks about. You only have to get the facts of somebody's life. You have to get the emotional truth. This is the term she uses. I teach a journalism seminar each second semester. I didn't this year because I had to do the book and Elsa comes for one session and the title of the class is emotional truth and it's something you got to understand how it drives people It may be rational. It may be irrational and may be something Dr Freud would love to examine. It may be something you know: it's rose, oh a hundred percent. If you really want to fight everyone's life and you had at the end of their life at a table of how many decisions were made based on facts and how many were based on emotions, I have to imagine its waited in the emotional decision making. That's what we do, of course in the outer face it
and this is why your idea of its message being human in the case of prompt it's a bigger mass- is bigger in consistency. The last line in the book is that from Is- the wrong man for the job is president, and this is based on it. Overwhelming evidence that came from my reporting and, quite frankly, came from him die grab something from the book for you that I just wanted to read, and this has to do with Senator, Graham who is the senator from South Carolina
chairman of the Judiciary Committee now in the Senate and he's the one who's leading the confirmation hearings that Trump's going to appoint somebody to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg seat. This has exploded political Washington in a significant way. Graham, is often people say: oh he's a tody he's Trump's best friend I found in my reporting again because I have the time to go back to people and check that Graham actually has some good observations and advice for Trump. So this is June. Fourteen th, so three months ago, after George Floyd was killed by a white police officer and the whole black lives man,
Uprising and so forth that define so much of what's going on right now and one of Trump's responses was, as you may recall, when he walked out of the White House and had the street cleared of peaceful protesters by the military in a really heavy handed way and Trump walks out and waves. Bible in sense of the church. You every step of the way, but he had not thought of what does he do once he gets there. That was very clear as an actor that he was out of lines in writing once he arrived. Yes, Didn't you hold the Bible ups That will give a lowering of is talking to drop and saying you know waving. The Bible doesn't work, and I quote Graham saying I've never been more worried. Then I am right now Trump could they have chosen three ways to respond to
the racial unrest triggered unleashed by George Floyd's killing could have chosen. George Wallace, you know the is governor in Alabama or he could have chosen. The Bobby Kennedy Route of dealing with racial on or we could have chosen the Richard Nixon and the was law and order Bobby Kennedy was, you know we need to have racial healing in this country, and George Wallace was more segregation, and so right now, Linsey Graham says that you have chosen the George Wallace Way you have taken this, radiation road- and I quote him say right now: if the elections were held, you would lose now. This is in June,
you have racial unrest and there are things in the book. I quote where Trump doesn't understand the pain in anger that black people feel yeah. Can I pause for, one second, because I thought it was amazing. You first asked him if he does believe that there is systemic racism, in this nation. Any says yes well it's everywhere, and it's probably not as bad here as other places. But yes, yes, there is so first I've never heard him say that publicly, but he does. He has the capacity to say it to you. So I'm shocked when I hear him say that to you, then you say: do you recognize that you, and myself have a great deal of privilege, growing up, white and of means and that we have been in a cave of privilege and that it is time for us to exit that cage and understand the pain and anguish that the Black people in this country are going through and he says, no anything,
it's silly that you would want us well, even more play that this response I said: do you understand the pain and anger that black people feel and he goes wow. You really drank the cool. I didn't you Bob, you drank the Kool leg, just listen to yourself and he mocks me for trying to understand from the point of view of white privilege what other people all our daily, and he says no. I don't feel that way at all and then runs around and says. Oh I've done more for black people than any president other than Abraham Lincoln Yeah. He loves saying that and he says it and it's absurd remember Lyndon Johnson in the Civil Rights ACT. Remember what Lyndon Johnson did for Racial
Letty an opportunity in this country. The out one thing with trumped leads to another leads to another. So I'm talking to him about the Supreme Court decision extending the Civil Rights ACT to algae BT, Q, people in this country, and it was written by Gorse Ich whose trumps appointee conservative appointee said: what do you think about corset, your guy writing this and it's against the administration. Its position you're in the Supreme Court, saying just the opposite, Trump says. Well, I want him to rule the way he feels- and I said, okay, I've thought about this president Trump
I was thinking that if you were on the Supreme Court, you would have voted for that also because you believe in freedom, freedom for people, so I think of you, ve been on the core. You would have been voting with gorse it and it is as well that's an interesting idea. I said. Well, maybe you can appoint yourself to the what you could do and he said oh well, I care about everyone. I care about all people dare we are supported by square space place. We made a website in here. Look so beautiful its highly function. No listen! Our website does kickass that out. That's a fact.
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is unacceptable. It makes us worse in the FBI or the marine corps or something like you, then, are inflicting pain and inflicting pain. That does something to your mind. It perverts it and we should not do for that reason right and then he goes on to explain the immense value of being a member of NATO and remind them that the whole reason that we had a coalition to go in Afghanistan, after we were attacked, was because of NATO. And so now in that meeting he concedes to those points. He seems to be swayed by that or acknowledge that and then again it happens, With Rex tiller someone tellers and explains what's going on with Russia what's going on with China, it seems as if Trump is like. Ok great things for explain that to me, I'm taking it so my question for you- and this goes today-
yes, there's astemic racism, but no, I don't need to be empathetic. My question: is is he the line in the moment that he doesn't agree with those points and he's just paying lip service to those people or you see someone that just oscillates regularly between in that moment? Yes, he agreed and then on another day. He doesn't that's what I'm really want to know about it. Ok, there's lots of assimilation and it's a nice were her. It means you don't have moral centre or you don't have an institutional or pragmatic sender. So what happens in all of this gets see? after scene in the book were Trump is meeting with its national security team about NATO,
South Korea, where we have thirty. Two thousand troops- and he says to the generals- were suckers- were paying for thirty two thousand troops of our troops in South Korea to protect them from North Korea. They should pay the bill with. This is wasted money and they say no, no. Mr President, this is the best money We spend its an insurance policy, its cheap. He thinks it's ten billion dollars in South Korea, its actual one, billion dollars and we get lots of side benefits. I quote: Pompey oldest now, secretary of State saying that the
we have in south. Korea are very important because it protects North Korea from China. China would like to control North Korea and our troops. There are actually some endurance in blockage so time and time again. This comes up about NATO, South Korea and part of it. I don't say this in the book, but I will say it here, because I've been able to think about the book and talk to people Trump thinks he's. The chief financial officer of the country, and he said we were suckers. We need to get more money. I just got another billion dollars from South Korea, I'm getting the NATO country to spend more on their defence, which they are it's true, but it's not about dollars. Incense! It's about. You have
I think its article five in the NATO agreement attack on one country is an attack on all its a joint defence. It is one of the most successful treaties in the history of the world and it has worked. There is a kind of confidence it after the Soviet Union collapsed still Russia's been threatening and some things in Putin. You know incomes, NATO and says we're gonna. Let you do this, we're gonna send troops there. Or we are going to speak with collective resolve in Trump. Does not comprehend what the interested the United States not to get five hundred million dollars more and he's obsessed with this. In the conversations I had some them are in the book, but hey Bob didn't I tell
you know I'm gonna get a billion dollars more from South Korea, and can I add, I actually respect that he's very fiscally minded, and I do respect that the right is very fiscally minded, but when I don't respect is the ignoring that the Afghanistan WAR in the trillions and that the reason we have these expenditures is to prevent us from spending trillions down the line. That could be that he doesn't understand. The ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure model. I'm fine with him being fiscally motivated. I'm a a little concerned that he doesn't see the enormous win win of preventing a large scale Not only a fiscal win but a strategic national security win, because the argument in Afghanistan is what happens when we pulled out
a long time ago the Taliban took over and they gave home and sustenance to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. An attack on the United States from Afghanistan and so what the military, people, intelligence people diplomat say that the presidency, this is an insurance policy. We have ten thousand troops, there benefit with you know. We all spend money on insurance right and, if, at the end of ten years, Why did I have that insurance? That was wasted money, but if you needed it, it could make all the difference, in the world, so he doesn't think that way and they had to be done his hand and say no, no, don't do this in one
The interviews I did with President drop about South Korea in South Korea is important in all of this and he said we're paying for them we allow them to exist. Now think about that, an ai that we've had since the fifty since The armistice after the Korean WAR are all my foot. Of democracy in capitalism in a rapidly becoming communist section of the World Yandah fifties. You know it's like you have a friend and you help and then they help you and you you say we're gonna, be friends for life. We're gonna protect each other, look out for each other's interests. If we have
disagreement, we're going to say it we're going to air it and think of the world that has existed in this century, the twenty first century. We had the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars, but we've not had other wars. We haven't had major war to I'm credit that he has not had a war himself. He told me repeatedly. He said like with North Korea. He agreed to meet with him german later who has dozens of nuclear weapons, and I asked the President Mary said: well, you know the foreign policy establishment thanks, you met with Kim Jong on and traditionally use and people from the State Department you work out an agreement even ever communicate. You gonna self worth in. I said so. People think
you jump the gun on this and he said to me he said Bob I gave my fucking meeting, that's what I gave Ok, maybe an I took me two days and I established this relationship. I wasn't critical. I just want to say in the same way that I was in critical of Obama, saying I'll talk, tag demagogic from I ran like the right one to say you can't talk die ran. I thought no. Everyone should be talking, so I actually wasn't critical of him. I agree the relationship with Kim Jong. Is that good, no detour read it, but in his eloquent way said no fucking war right, not an insult we're gonna see over the coming years. Is that work,
talks in these letters that I have back and forth between them, which are an extraordinary from feels he is. He said to me, said Kim, tells me everything I know what's going on. He was about to go to start the war and promptly He stopped him now. Pompeo secretary of state heard the same thing from Kim, but he doesn't know whether it's a bluff trump is sure. It's not
a bluff. So we're going to see so we did something different to here's. Here's the problem. I've got so many people say front brakes norms. He does what's not traditional in it from the time he was elected. In said no wait a minute. He was elected to ignore people counted on him, to break norms and to sit in kind of old. This is not traditional. This is not normal. Trump is not going to be that way. The question is: all of these things get measured by outcomes. Don't remember one of the George Bush's close advisors, saying to me said you know everything depends.
I'm outcomes in it does in the end, and so we're gonna see what happens to some of these things. So I had a very good friend of mine. Write me, an email saying you know, prompts the leadership thee. They already the failure to plan their failure to have a moral compass and so forth is tragic, but he said well, Trump has done some good things I agree on, and then this is now. One dimensional a friend of mine. Once said years ago, I remember I was looking into a lawyer and I was trying to get some background, a friend in Houston, Texas. It was so. What do you think any said, like all of us he's a mixed bag
yeah, I'm kind of the same opinion? At least I really try to make a case for the things I think he's done. Well, I at least attempt to, but I want to just go through and it's in the book, the price aid for his fiscal minded objective? Do you think the early stages of the outbreak in China would have gone differently? Had we not been in such a contentious situation over all the trade deals. Do you think if we had had up a more emical recent history with them that they would have accepted our offer of sending epidemiologists and stuff there? Do you think that we paid a price? because they were covering up the virus in China. It remain at one point. I think this was in January China locked down. Seven hundred and sixty eight million people in
in all through China. Now that's twice the population of the United States in when China wax things. That means if you live in an apartment, they lock you in. That means serious matter it's not the grocery store you're. And in somebody's going to go to the grocery store for you and so forth. What happened in this is it took me a lot of months of reporting discovered the key moment, and I open my book with this is January Twenty eight topsecret meeting in the oval office in President trumps, national Security adviser Robert O Brien that in
EL briefer, is in there talking about the virus in China and saying they're watching it in a Ryan says. Mr President, this virus is going to be the biggest. Not maybe this is going to be. The biggest national security threat to your presidency is deputy mad passenger book almost if you design somebody to be in that job, at this moment had been a Wall Street Journal Rapporteur in China for seven years and knew the Chinese lied head deep Throat in China who told him the pandemic is coming and this web, we went through this. It was all laid out to Trump and he, instead of telling the population where did and worried about a panic and worried
been re elected and when all of this is written for history, ten, twenty thirty. Fifty years from now, they're. Gonna look back on that meeting. That moment- and this was the beginning of the tragedy for America that has led to two hundred thousand people- have died, and some of this clearly could have been averted by telling the truth and go into the american people chop. It is staggering, of malfeasance. It is staggering failure to be human. It is staggering moral failure, and what's what's here, this has gone on for so long. All another thousand people died, a thousand people die a year ago. If a thousand people died in a factory
explosion in Detroit or anywhere in the United States, it would be news for weeks well. That's nearly half the victims of nine eleven, so we know how we felt about that now. Here is a place that I want to attempt to give benefit of the doubt. So here is what I feel like I could be empathetic towards, which is a mass panic, and essential downturn and the economy are going to have collateral damage. That also will result in death and, again to your point, forty years from now will know, those numbers were definitely be pain, prices in other areas. So I do see the incentive to downplay it as to prevent panic as to prevent a collapse in the economy so on and so forth. I dont think you'd have to be a monster. I dont, think you'd have to be a monster to value the economy as something more than just money, but all the many things that effects in our how low that's true, you ve got to be
at him knowing the severity and that's really important you. You have documentation of him in January, February, understanding that it was the spanish flu. Understanding that it was five times is dangerous and lethal. Is influenza self? That's to me where it starts getting broken down in and I start fan like, even if you had that, instead of one of the things that tells me is that you have a very low opinion of the populace, you that you can hear while this truth, but that we would be able to handle it that we will start running mad in the streets and letting things on fire. So there's there is a declaration of his assessment of us in some way by thinking we can't handle that. Yes, this is the failure to understand who we are and who we are I'm an optimist about the country.
I remember after nine eleven I did for books and George W Bush in George W Bush. After nine eleven three thousand people killed and a surprise he actually six weeks before had been warned in the top secret briefing to him. The intelligence community did. Bin Laden was determine to strike in the U S and he should have acted any paid the price for their, but at least after the attack he stepped up, and he said okay we're going to pay them back. We will strike at a time of our choosing. He rallied the country rallied the Congress all of the work he did and sending troops into Afghanistan. You know the first American to
jobs into Afghanistan in two thousand and one were led by a colonel. You know his name James Madness, I had the great pleasure of meeting him on a Uso tour in Afghanistan, yeah credible man once the thing became bigger than him How is it that his own shortcomings as a person now start to accept eventually ramp up not being able to handle it and I specifically mean
the doing his own thing, the governing on his own. How does that now come to play into his handling of the pandemic? Well, it's no better! I mean it's going to get worse. All the doctors say will converge with the regular flu and it is a train that is running. You know in an incredible speed and it's probably going to run faster, he's not organized. Now, let's look at what is the obligation of the leader of the President when he gets that information on January, twenty eight he should say. While this is on my head, my shoulders. Let's get all of the people in who are experts. Let's get tony file she and let's get the Secretary of defence. Let's get homeland security, let's get the smartest people.
Round and lets say how do we act in a way to protect the american people? But there is no meeting there's a cover up. There's denial: there is refusal and then, in March, when the virus hit us like you don't say it was just over Few days, in early march. I remember I was traveling to the West Coast to Florida March, sixth and seventh and my wife and daughter, Elsa in our daughter, Diane went to Morocco during that period in thought. You know. Everything's fine, and I was added speech in California, and I had copies of my book. Fear then to sign were hundreds of people, and somebody said you better where some gloves rubber gloves. So I got my gloves out and put them on
absorbed and put them on, and I realize soon within a day or two, their thirty thousand new cases in the. U S from gave a speech in overall for the evening speech, took it seriously, but then again kind of said: oh, it's gonna be fine. Everything's gonna be ok kind of brushed, it are instead of saying I may he will did some serious things. He restricted travel, Set up a task force to look at this, but he did. He didn't put it all together in his own mind- and you know four year show here to do this right. Do you have a team of technicians how many Sadly, you've met all of us you're, looking at Monica and you're. Looking at me, he Yeah right.
That's right, and if he even had three and we got everything together and said: hey, let's work on this: let's do this in the evidence in in the book that I was able to find is overwhelming in January, Matt Pottinger talked with Tony, for She laid out in truncated form, what he knew there's a pandemic was coming, and I quote in the book saying: oh, I thought Matt was over the moon on this and exaggerating in January. And then when it hit in March, she is is quoted, saying, oh, my God was was right all along the same with Red Redfield. They headed the c d c. One of the also not is well known is falsehood
a renowned doctor who cares about the country last week. Redfield has twenty three thousand people who work for him in the CDC including contractors he's testifying under oath in Congress and he gets the mask out and he says a mask is more important than a vaccine. This can save your life later in the day. Trump is having his press conference. This is last week and he says Oh, I heard what Doktor Redfield said and I called him up. He said he's confused in, doesn't know what he's talking about and just crashed him and its own. True I made Redfield knows what he's talking about, and you know again. This is kind of not a big headlines, but it should be. Coming out insane
You know they have all this work. They have done on auto safety, I think seat belts are optional come on I'll always aware when viewed, he would be forced to resign if he said that a mask is the equivalent of a seat belt. An insurance policy, and you have everyone saying is knowing this but see what's happened, we ve become kind of Anne S. Third ties this we have been numbed.
Oh. Well, a thousand people died. Oh there's a controversy about mask, there's a controversy about this, and then along comes the Supreme Court opportunity, which is Trump. I have things in the book and we put out the tapes of this about the Supreme Court working with Mitch, Mcconnell, the Senate Republican leader and Trump. I quote in the book, and we played this tape and Trump says to me. Mitch, Mitch is interested in one thing: getting judges Mitch tells me if we're gonna
ten ambassadors confirmed in the sun. Do the one judge, pleased and prompt spouting numbers to me with enthusiasm, big exaggerated numbers, but he's gonna get a lot of appointments. He is over two hundred now he says three hundred so one point I said and will release the tape on this, and I said so. Mr President, I thank you. You got so many judges, they're gonna, put a statue of you outside the Supreme Court. And I'm laughing in, trumps is what a good guide he's dying idea we'll do it tomorrow, but I won't tell people that it's coming for me. Oh my goodness. Ok, so I want you to try to again. I ask you to play psychiatrists a little bit. Would you chalk? All of this up to incompetence? Is that
but it is, is it is just too much for him to handle, or is there a more nefarious objective or it may be just a more self serving narcissistic objective? How do you explain it? All roads lead to re election Sea Travel Kyle's that in her political culture, successful presidency, reelected right, yeah Clinton was re, elected Bush was re, elected Obama, bummer was re, elected new can criticise all of them. Somebody like George Herbert Walker, Bush was not reelected. Jimmy Carter was not re elected in there kind of that's the dust heap, especially for him. That's the losers, a loser, and so he wants to win in such a way that he's committed everything to it and he is lost sight of his over. I mean he look present. I've done. Ninety
residents can burns told me some time ago said you realize you ve written about for the Washington Post in books on nine presidents. That's twenty percent of the President's we've had as wild, and I said I I am that old, These reports will win you. You know when you cover a baseball team for fifty years, you which I have almost done with the presidency, the you see certain characteristics you learn about how the manager makes a difference. How the pitch makes a difference stage we are supported by,
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They are moral leaders in foreign affairs. You know they decide a Joe Biden really can't go abroad. Is a presidential candidate, conceal, say he's trying to do the president's job in the constitution makes it very clear that the president, resident trump says pollutants. Our friend came German, we're gonna deal with him and be ass. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, even though According to the CIA, he's behind the murder of Jamil Kashogi, one of the writers for my newspaper- and he has all this- Extraordinary power and the foreign affairs in domestic affairs, the economy on moral leadership on the direction of the country.
And so you put it in the hands of somebody like Trump who want organise, won't think through its staggering and I really find myself saying is- I think I was quoted in the drugs report the other day. Historians, you're gonna, come around and they're gonna to say what the air force? happening in America in this period, we lost our Marines. Now that's not buy me a political judgment. I don't have politics, I can't have follow, I only vote when my young daughter wants me to go vote for her, because she is a favorite candidate. I'm just not. Can I dont think that way, as I'm sitting you're talking to you and I'm thinking about the reluctance and then not wearing the mask. I do wonder if you think there's an underpinning of age ism,
and before you answer, I just want to say is I'm sitting here talking to you, I'm reminded that there would be few p more than you that defended our democracy, that cap it healthy by exposing Nixon and then I think, you're currently doing it, but I have to imagine part of the lack lustre her response to it is that it is disproportionately affecting older people and we're just not valuing older p. The way we would if it had killed two hundred thousand children, and I just wonder if you have It's on that and I'm looking at you and you're still defending our democracy in it. It's occurring to me that this is unfair. That may be part of it is the sense of disposable. Of older people in one of my conversations with Trump. He said you know it hits older people if you get your life is over. He said, and I thought book I I'm today vetoes go wash my hands and I'm gonna, where my mask and does so
no, I don't think that's yet. I think he is- and this is a profound question you're asking where we I need to look at ourselves. Is a country and our responsibility for the coming on more from the principle of my God. Every life kind of snow Trump says even one is too much, but this is going to be a sad story. We are going to have to walk everyone in this country, the painful road of introspection and the road of introspection, as you know, is indeed painful, because you see yourself in your weaknesses in you see What you should have done you wind up second guessing yourself and the country's gonna- have to go
that normally what brings this country to its senses is a crisis, but this crisis c has been happening slowly thousand lives here, two thousand lives here or goats. Only dollar five hundred today o whoops it's up to a thousand back and forth, and I think it's the as I had an editor at the Washington Post, managing editor named Howard Simons, who was just a great brilliant man. And he go to a party at the in Washington and so forth, and he knew if he said he was the managing editor of the Washington Post. Everyone would be you know what about this. What about that were so he used to go to party and they. What do you do? He said. Well, I work for the Grical
the everyone would say. Yes thank yes, they have a nice, you opposition! Hardly yet. Obviously this a kind of unparalleled times and, as you say about us becoming on Mord, is it not shut in the EU. The difference between what cause eggs, hinder resign. You now be in its way in intensity verses. What, of scandal could even exist today. That would have a president resign as that cost makes sense. It seems like its changed, such a great deal from when your work resulted in the resignation which of about stealing stuff from a hotel room, albeit about the election, but I just was a democratic national committee. The Hardly Watergate was a whole series of other illegal acts in conspiracies in so as India
all the undermine the election. And yes, I'm not downplaying the severity of that. I'm just saying it seems like we ve clips that level several times and there is really not been any true pressure for some under confront that. Do you think what happened with Nixon from your work in the seventies could even happened today? I guess it's my question. Yes, certainly all kinds of things can happen and I look at my job. My job is to find out what happened and I've been very privilege to work Washington Post and have been Bradley, Catherine Graham, is the owner and it's a gift was a gift. Me is the young reporter. Needless to say it
So we we have to work harder in my business. I need to work harder. The election is what seven weeks away? Can you I mean seven weeks in America goes, Zoom is gone and there are things don't know their things that are hidden agenda. We need to dig into them and you know the whole system. Republicans Democrats accountable. They have no there's been some tough reporting and Biden. There will be more tough reporting so everyone in my business needs to is Ben Bradley, said one. Albert Einstein- and I well in woke him up- this was in nineteen. Seventy three it too. I am in the morning had this house to say we ve got information that Nick, and behind it all and banks,
mountain is bathrobe pajamas and he said okay you guys had put his under a lot of pressure and go, home and take a bath rest up a little bit and then get your ass back to work and Ben Bradley departed long ago, but his voice of get your ass back to work is echoing in my head and there's. No, switch in journalism, there's no off switch in covering Trump world. They have you found that there has been over your career so much more distrusts now, because that's coming from the top, as coming from the elite of, trying to dismantle the press and media and it's all vague and so before, with Nixon. When you guys broke that story, it was just below right or De Jong. Was five people didn't pull favorite? We rode all these stories and the nineties
Indeed two for the seventy two election. We rode all these stories about criminality and break ins in secret funds. In advertising operations against Democrat, pretty extensive and dab an election day, Nixon one forty nine states it wasn't. That's a great! I'm glad. I'm glad you pointed that out because it feels meekly current yeah. I'm glad, but it's really a good question and were in this age of impatience and speed the internet give it to me now give me one sentence and so forth, and my colleagues at the Washington just do a great daily job. I mean we have a team of reporters woman named Ashley Parker. Who came from the New York Times, Bob Casta Phil Rucker, dozens more cover,
the White House covering the administration, and somebody like me, I don't have to write the daily story. I don't have to write a weekly story and I can deal with the question. Not just what did the president know? When did he know that? How did he know it and how did trump know that this virus was going to be a pandemic? And would go through the air took me three months, the figure that out and find out about the January twenty eight eighteen, I wish I was faster, so it takes a long time to put the pieces together and I worry now like I go to sleep and I wonder what don't and I and I wake up in the morning this I've said this before and I mean mean I have
immediate reaction when I get up is what are the bastard tidy, not one party, but both parties in institutions and business. There is a natural reflex cover up, don't level with people, maybe they'll never find out. Maybe they'll never discover when you're president of the United States. You have this unique constitutional and moral and institutional role at, and it's really a truth telling role. It's it's a role of immense responsibility. No, no one should
walk into it without understanding the dimensions and we are now in a situation where I think we need to really wake up about the payroll. That's coming with this pandemic right now. If it was over in history, you could kind of say: okay, it's over. I can't even get close and, as I was trying to point out, get Dr Fashi here and they'll. Tell you it's going to get worse, yeah, yeah we're in the eye of the storm. Ok, my last question: in its for fun, you ve been portrayed in movies by the handsome man, ever live. Robert Redford and you ve been portrayed by the fund His man ever live welfare on who more accurately captured Bob Woodward. In the first case for all the president's men read for
having that role, I always have been fixed in my head, and I say to People- and I say to you: you have no idea how many, women, I've disappointed. I was dad married in. I would call women up for dates and you know identify yeah. I love So then I go did the door. Ring, the buzzer in the door wide open in the car where's Bob read for I have seen more disappointing. Spaces
Anyone- and so what's the lesson, don't take any of this stuff seriously. Just the band Bradley Rule nose down as moving slowly forward. Well, you are a national treasure. We thank you for all the fifty years plus work you ve done always with the goal of keeping that fourth estate strong, keeping this democracy, honest and thriving. So thank you some. We really appreciate you taken the time we ve got a lot of work to do in the next week's. Enjoy the discussion. Good luck Thank you. So much
Transcript generated on 2020-10-12.