Journalist Bob Woodward released excerpts from his latest book yesterday, sending the media and Democrats into a frenzy over the revelation that President Donald Trump publicly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus while privately knowing how serious the problem could be.
The President defended himself by saying that his administration didn’t want to start a panic, which is something that a lot of leaders tend to try to do. In order to show strength and to keep their citizens from panicking, they publicly downplay the severity of threats while privately working to solve the issue.
Barack Obama, in an interview with Woodward, was recorded as saying America could “absorb” a terror attack like we did the 9/11 attack. He was viciously attacked by the right for minimizing the attack and downplaying the threat of another terror attack on American soil. The same folks in the media and the Democratic Party who are attacking Trump now defended Obama’s comments then.
In truth, Obama wasn’t wrong. America recovered after the initial shock and became stronger. We didn’t live in fear of the next terror attack. We kept our lives moving forward. Likewise, America is recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. Recovery is slow, but we’re seeing good downward trends almost everywhere. But both men did what leaders do. They led with strength rather than fear and weakness.
The question of whether the Trump administration has done enough to combat the virus is a fair one, but to say he’s done nothing is absurd. The very first action he took — cutting off travel to and from China — was widely criticized as xenophobic by the same people who now say he didn’t do anything. While the Trump administration was forming a task force and working to figure the issue out, Democrats were encouraging citizens of New York, San Fransisco, and elsewhere to head out to Chinatown for dinner or a parade.
Was the Trump administration aggressive enough? Debatable. Could Trump have been a better leader? I believe so. The problem, though, is that if the blood of 200,000 dead is on Trump’s hands based on this tape from six months ago, wouldn’t the blood also be on Woodward’s hands for sitting on that tape?
Woodward isn’t doing the work that made him famous here. He isn’t exposing the next Nixon or anything like that. He’s selling a book. Those released excerpts were strategically picked to generate the most buzz, and now that’s what everyone is talking about. He’s selling something, and in order to do so, he appealed to everyone’s biases. That’s the story of the Woodward tapes here.
At one point, Woodward was the type of journalist younger journalists wanted to be when they grew up. Now, he’s selling books by ginning up outrage and releasing them in peak election season for maximum sales. It will be a New York Times bestseller because political outrage sells. Young journalists still want to be him, but for all the wrong reasons.
And yet… it won’t make a bit of difference come November.