Bob Woodward, famed Watergate reporter, release his new book, “Fear,” about the Trump White House, Tuesday. But the praise and denials were flying last week, already. Also, of course, there was the anonymous OpEd in the New York Times last week. No doubt, we will soon find out who “anonymous” is, and will be able to figure out the motive for the OpEd.
For now, however, let’s just listen in on what people are saying. The Wall Street Journal, reports that the book sold more than 750,000 copies in the first day of publication—with the largest pre-order in Simon & Schuster’s history.
It is Simon & Schuster’s biggest printing of the year to this point, said a spokesman. … it has ordered a ninth printing, which will bring the total number of hardcovers in print to more than 1.15 million…
Mr. Woodward’s book ranks No. 1 on both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble . com. On Wednesday, Barnes & Noble Inc. said the book had generated “the fastest sales for an adult title since Harper Lee’s ’Go Set a Watchman’ was released in July 2015.”
The Atlantic says the book “comes for [Defense Secretary] James Mattis.”
James Mattis has long distinguished himself as a canny survivor in Donald Trump’s shape-shifting inner circle, somehow managing to remain firmly entrenched at the Pentagon. . .
Woodward depicts an agitated Mattis explaining to Trump in a meeting that the United States maintains a military presence on the Korean peninsula to “prevent World War III” and later deriding the president as “a fifth or sixth grader.”
Business insider calls the book “explosive” and points to revelations it provides. Here are some of them, including the importance of not allowing Trump to testify under oath.
–‘It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit’: Explosive Bob Woodward book reportedly recounts Trump’s lawyer’s effort to keep him from interviewing with Mueller
–Trump denied calling Jeff Sessions — or anyone — ‘mentally retarded,’ but old records show he has
–Ivanka Trump and Steve Bannon reportedly clashed over proper White House protocol, and she told him ‘I’m not a staffer! … I’m the first daughter!”
–Trump reportedly told Mattis that he wanted to assassinate Bashar al-Assad after his chemical weapons attack on Syrians last year
–Gary Cohn reportedly snatched documents off Trump’s desk to prevent him from wrecking 2 massive trade deals
–John Kelly was reportedly enraged with Trump over his handling of Charlottesville, said he would have taken a resignation letter ‘and shoved it up his ass 6 different times’
–Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell privately praised CEOs that quit Trump’s business councils after the Charlottesville fiasco
–Trump told Gary Cohn he ‘hired the wrong guy for Treasury secretary’ right in front of Steven Mnuchin
–Trump offered advice to a friend who admitted ‘bad behavior’ toward women: ‘Deny, deny, deny’
–Hope Hicks and other top staffers reportedly tried to set up a committee to vet Trump’s tweets after he attacked Mika Brzezinski, but he ignored their input
–Trump reportedly wanted to raise the top income tax bracket to 44%, but Gary Cohn talked him out of it
But even before the book was officially released, three former Trump aides cast doubt on the veracity of some of the book’s claims, according to Politico.
. . . former White House staff secretary Rob Porter released a statement claiming Woodward presented a “selective and often misleading portrait” of the administration. . .
Sources familiar with Trump’s thinking have told POLITICO that he’s livid at [Former National Economic Council director Gary] Cohn and Porter, believing they leaked to Woodward, even though Trump has publicly slammed the book as a work of “fiction.”. . .
In one episode from Woodward’s book, Cohn is described as having surreptitiously snatched a draft letter off Trump’s desk that would have terminated a trade deal with South Korea. Trump has disputed this account, saying Cohn “would have been fired so fast” if he had swiped the memo. . .[Former New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie also accused Woodward of relying too heavily upon former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon for his sourcing. He derided the ex-Trump adviser as a “perpetual leaker” and called him the “co-author” of Woodward’s latest work. . .
According to Woodward’s account. . .”Where the fuck is the money?” Trump reportedly asked Christie. “I need money for my campaign. I’m putting money in my campaign and you’re fucking stealing from me.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that “The Donald” is also not amused.
Trump has condemned a book on his White House by renowned Watergate journalist Bob Woodward as a “con on the public”.
Mr Trump’s chief of staff and defence secretary, in responses posted by the president on Twitter, described the book as “pathetic” and “fiction”. . .
Mr Trump says quotes attributed to Mr Mattis and Mr Kelly were “made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes”.
He says the book is “already discredited” with “so many lies and phony sources”, rejecting an allegation that he had used the terms “mentally retarded” and “dumb Southerner” to describe Attorney General Jeff Sessions. . .
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Mr Trump said that “it’s just another bad book”, adding that Woodward “has a lot of credibility problems.”
Trump claims that he wanted to be interviewed for the book, but was not asked. However, in a recorded conversation Woodward says he tried hard to get to Trump, and Trump said he never heard. It’s also important that Trump says Woodward has always been fair.
BW: I’m sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book.
Trump: Well, I just spoke with Kellyanne [Conway] and she asked me if I got a call. I never got a call. I never got a message. Who did you ask about speaking to me?
BW: Well, about six people. . .
Trump: It’s really too bad, because nobody told me about it, and I would’ve loved to have spoken to you. You know I’m very open to you. I think you’ve always been fair.
In its story, quoted above, the BBC asks if Woodward is fair.
Is Bob Woodward credible?
It would be hard to find a journalist with greater credentials. After all, his investigations with Washington Post colleague Carl Bernstein helped bring down Richard Nixon and he has written books on many leaders, including George W Bush and Barack Obama.
He is certainly one of the most respected and well-informed political analysts.
The BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher says that Woodward has unrivalled access to the corridors of power, and the general Washington consensus is that it is better to talk to him than not, since colleagues – and enemies – are certainly giving him their side of the story.
Back in 2013, Mr Trump had responded to a row between Woodward and the Obama administration with a tweet saying: “Only the Obama WH can get away with attacking Bob Woodward.”
As we have noted elsewhere, many people don’t understand how journalism works. Reporters quote, and usually name, sources. A reporter NEVER vouches for the truth of the message of the source. That’s not his or her job. In this case, Woodward talked to many past and present White House officials. While what those sources say may or not be true, Woodward could only quote them—and say, this is what they said. You can’t expect more than that. And you shouldn’t.