Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward definitively put personal profit over journalism or the national interest by holding back the coronavirus bombshells Donald Trump gave him, keeping them secret for months until Woodward could profit from a book. Woodward would still have had a newsworthy book without the coronavirus material, too—Trump told him so many offensive and dangerous things on other subjects that the book would have gotten big headlines no matter what.
Woodward has Trump bragging that “I have built a nuclear—a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody—what we have is incredible.” Anonymous sources confirmed the existence of a secret new weapons system … that Trump should not have been casually disclosing to a reporter.
Trump also offered a lot of casual racism, much of it in conversations taped by Woodward. While Trump acknowledged the existence of institutional racism in the United States, when Woodward asked him whether, as privileged white men, they had the responsibility to try to understand Black people’s “anger and pain,” Trump responded: “No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”
Trump also framed it as an act of generosity that he doesn’t refer to his predecessor as “Barack Hussein,” and blatantly projected his own insecurities onto Obama. “I don’t think Obama’s smart,” Trump said. “I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.”
His opinion of another leader, however, was much higher. That would be North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who Trump raved about to Woodward, describing him as “far beyond smart” and bragging: “He never smiled before. I’m the only one he smiles with.” (This is false.)
Trump even acknowledged his affection for authoritarian leaders, saying: “It’s funny, the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them.”
”You know? Explain that to me someday, okay?” he added. (It’s not hard to explain: Trump fancies himself a big tough guy but really he’s weak enough to be impressed by people who seem like what he wishes to be.)
Fueling the ongoing strains in the relationship between Trump and the military, Woodward reports that Trump told White House trade adviser Peter Navarro: “Not to mention my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.” Apparently real men, non-pussy men, prefer trade deals to military alliances?
Woodward has done real damage to the nation by holding back the things Trump said about the coronavirus early on, when he was still lying to the public about its dangers. But in a reasonable world, the rest of this stuff—the racism, the affection for dictators, the bragging about secret weapons systems—would also have been a giant scandal.