Fear, Rage and Peril

It’s been 50 years since the historic Watergate Hotel break-in, cover-up and subsequent resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein changed the course of investigative reporting with their work on uncovering the illegal activities conducted by “All The President’s Men.”

After his reporting on Watergate, Woodward has remained with the Washington Post, now as associate editor. He’s also written 21 books on American politics and current affairs, 15 of which have topped best-seller lists.

He was a recent guest speaker at a virtual event sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

During his presentation, Woodward talked about his latest book – co-written with Robert Costa, Peril, about President Donald Trump’s last days in office and touched on his other two books about the former president, Fear and Rage.

He noted the significance of interviewing in-person if at all possible.

For the second of the trilogy, Rage, he interviewed President Trump 18 times, although not all in-person but all recorded with the president’s permission.

“Trump never screamed at me, never hung up on me,” Woodward said.

“Showing up sends the message ‘I’m taking you as seriously as you do,’” he said.  He later said, “Everyone always says more than they’re supposed to.”

Interestingly enough, that’s one of the key points we discuss with our clients during our media training workshops.

Woodward also emphasized how important it is for an interviewer to try to understand the person being interviewed.  That’s the case whether it’s for a book, an investigative piece or feature story as Woodward does, or a PR professional conducting a story mining session with a client as our team does.

At the end of Woodward’s talk, the non-assuming reporter shared a message he received from the publisher of the Washington Post following President Nixon’s resignation decades ago: “Beware the demon pomposity.”

Written by
at May 4, 2022

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