President Trump says he spent some of Monday evening reading journalist Bob Woodward’s book — and was not impressed.
Speaking to Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, the commander-in-chief remarked on Woodward’s tome, titled “Rage,” after being asked why he spoke to the Washington Post editor.
“I assumed he was a little bit fair, I didn’t do it previously. He only writes bad books, and I actually got to read his last night — I read it very quickly and it was very boring,” the president told the network.
Asked further about the decision and whether his reporting was accurate, Trump said Woodward’s work was just “okay” before defending his own conduct, explaining how he did not want to create a panic.
The commander-in-chief then turned to Carl Bernstein, the veteran journalist whose explosive reporting with Woodward brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
On CNN Monday, Bernstein called Trump “a homicidal president convening ― purposefully ― a homicidal assembly” to get himself re-elected, referring to Trump rallies.
When asked to respond to that statement, Trump pounced on the journalist.
“Well, I mean, I know Carl Bernstein a little bit, he’s a nut job. He’s been a nut job for many years. He was the second, second wing. I don’t have a lot of respect for either of them, frankly. But he was a total nut job and I see him. And he’ll say anything, no matter what you did,” the president told the network. “Like today I’m doing a great deal with Israel — Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, everyone said it was impossible. No matter what you do with some of the fake news, it doesn’t make any difference. This one is great, so it’s sort of interesting.”
Trump then touted his two recent nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize before turning back to both Woodward and Bernstein.
“Carl Bernstein is a dummy, and he’s a dumb guy, and Woodward’s book last night I read it, it’s like lightweight reading and he doesn’t get it.”
Woodward interviewed Trump on over a dozen occasions for a total of nine hours in an on-the-record capacity while working on the tome.
During some of those interviews, which took place in February and March, the president told Woodward that he publicly downplayed the coronavirus pandemic in order to not cause mass panic.
“To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told the veteran journalist. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
The president has faced considerable scrutiny for his “admission,” although, speaking to reporters at the end of March, the president was open about his strategy of maintaining calm for the sake of Americans’ well-being.
“I read an article today, which was very interesting. They say, ‘We wish President Trump would give more bad news. Give bad news.’ I’m not about bad news. I want to give people hope. I want to give people a feeling that we all have a chance,” Trump told a reporter who pushed back on his handling of the virus at the time.
“I want to give people a feeling of hope. I could be very negative. I could say, ‘Wait a minute, those numbers are terrible. This is going to be horrible. This is a horrible thing,’” he continued.
The commander-in-chief then doubled down on his point, saying those in the media who wanted him to take a more negative approach were looking at the issue incorrectly.
“I want to be positive. I don’t want to be negative. I have to — I’m a positive person. Somebody said, ‘Oh, I wish he’d be more negative.’ They literally have that; it’s in one of the wonderful newspapers today. ‘I wish he’d be more negative.’
“You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country. We’re going through the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen. … So there’s nothing positive, there’s nothing great about it, but I want to give people in this country hope. I think it’s very important,” Trump said then.