President Trump has a tendency shoot from the hip and think he can bring anybody around to his point of view by personal charm. That’s why he gave Washington Post reporter, and fierce critic of the president, Bob Woodward unprecedented access to him and the Oval Office for Woodward’s new book “Rage.” The president made a mistake. Now he’s paying for it in bad press he could have done without.
On Thursday Trump asked why the Post hack didn’t report his comments in the book about the virus sooner, if he thought they were “so bad or dangerous.” Woodward alleges the president misled the American people on the severity of the virus, downplaying it for political purposes.
“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months,” Trump said Thursday. “If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers.”
Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2020
In February, Woodward said Trump described the virus as “deadly stuff” to him, even as he publicly compared it a flu. A month later, Trump said to Woodward: “I still like playing it [the virus] down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” A proper presidential action. But not to Woodward, who would turn any statement upside down to hurt Trump. The president should have known this.
The Washington Post was quick to jump to Woodward’s defense against Trump charges of delay, “It took him three months to nail down all the reporting about what Trump knew about coronavirus, when he learned it and how all that related to the public pronouncements he was making,” Post media reporter Eric Wemple tweeted of Woodward. “It wasn’t until May that he put those pieces together.”
“Asked directly whether earlier publication of his interviews would have saved lives, Woodward responded, ‘No! How?'” Wemple wrote. “He pointed out that Trump made that comment on March 19, and he had already made an Oval Office address on March 11. Confirmed cases were taking off.” Of course, there would be no charges or counterclaims at all if Woodward had never been in the room.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on “The Story” on Fox Wednesday night, said that Woodward’s “access to the White House is probably something that I would not have recommended had I been in the chief of staff role early on, but it’s the typical thing the president does.” That is a dramatic understatement.