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From Watergate To Trump: Bob Woodward Reflects On His Decades In Journalism

Bob Woodward at lectern.
Clifford Roles
Bob Woodward spoke Monday at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium for the Library Foundation for Sarasota County's eighth annual author luncheon. COURTESY Clifford Roles

Investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward of the Washington Post spoke in Sarasota Monday.

Perhaps best known for teaming up with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein in uncovering the Watergate scandal, Woodward has also written books about the last nine U.S Presidents.

The occasion for his visit was the 8th annual author luncheon to benefit the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.

Woodward shared many behind the scenes stories from his career with the sold-out audience.

The best time to knock on the door of a 4-star general's house to get an interview he said is after dinner - and when he learned Robert Redford was going to play him in the movie All the President's Men, the journalist joked he thought ‘yes, that makes sense.’

Woodward also shared a profound lesson he gained from Washington Post publisher, Katharine Graham. In the wake of the newspaper’s Watergate coverage and Richard Nixon's resignation, Woodward and Bernstein's reporting had been vindicated. Graham told the two journalists, “Don’t start thinking too much of yourselves, beware the demon pomposity.”

Woodward also spent a good deal of his time talking about reporting in today's divisive political climate.

“I look at my job,” he said, “as let’s present the rock-solid evidence of what happens. Let the political system respond.”

Woodward also revealed that he is writing a follow-up to his 2018 book "Fear: Trump in the White House."

Credit Clifford Roles
The annual author luncheon raises money for the Library Association of Sarasota County.

"What I'm focusing on in doing the second book on Trump is to be very aggressive in getting new information and listening to everyone so something can be presented in the fall before the election,” he said.

In Woodward's first book on Trump, senior aides were quoted as saying they hid sensitive documents to prevent the President from signing them.

Trump called the book a "con," and suggested Congress change libel laws. However, the President recently told Fox News that he has decided to talk with Woodward for the new book and has already done an interview with the journalist.

Woodward says his role is to be politically neutral.

"My job is to not praise Trump, not criticize him, but understand him."

The annual author luncheon is the Library Foundation’s only fundraiser. Past events have featured, among others, Carl Hiaasen, Cokie Roberts, and James Patterson. The foundation has raised more than $1.1 million that funds current operations and programs such as the Imagination Library initiative, which sends a new book each month to the homes of children in need.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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