News and Commentary

Woodward Rejects Claims He Could Have Saved Lives By Revealing Trump’s COVID-19 Comments Sooner

TRUMP: "Why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?"

   DailyWire.com
CORTE MADERA, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: The newly released book "Fear" by Bob Woodward is displayed at a Barnes and Noble bookstore on September 11, 2018 in Corte Madera, California. The new book "Fear" by Bob Woodward about the Trump adminstration hit store shelves today. (Photo by
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bob Woodward is defending himself against charges that he should have come forward sooner with President Donald Trump’s comments about COVID-19, which the journalist collected months ago in interviews but saved for his latest book that was released this week.

Trump told Woodward in March that as the pandemic began to spread across America, he tried to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19.

“Well, I think Bob, really to be honest with you … I wanted to always play it down,” Trump reportedly told Woodward in a phone conversation. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

But Trump made no secret of his effort to keep America calm, telling reporters on March 30, “The statements I made are: I want to keep the country calm. I don’t want to panic in the country.”

As questions emerged about why Woodward kept mum, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote on Twitter that he had interviewed Woodward and asked him about the matter.

“Addressing only issues of process, Woodward said that when Trump talked about coronavirus — ‘deadly stuff’ — in their Feb. 7 interview, he (Woodward) didn’t know where Trump was getting his information, whether it was true, and so on,” Wemple wrote.

“It took him three months to nail down all the reporting about what Trump knew about coronavirus, when he learned it and how all that related to the public pronouncements he was making. It wasn’t until May that he put those pieces together,” Wemple added.

“Asked directly whether earlier publication of his interviews would have saved lives, Woodward responded, ‘No! How?'” Wemple wrote. “He pointed out that Trump made that comment on March 19, and he had already made an Oval Office address on March 11. Confirmed cases were taking off.”

Wemple added: “Woodward did say that if anything he gathered was a legitimate public health issue, he would have gone to The Post and sought to have it published forthwith. ‘It wasn’t. It wasn’t,’ he told me.”

Critics, including Trump himself, hit back at the Watergate reporter.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter.

“This should’ve been reported to the American people when he said it, not saved for the book,” Spectator’s Washington editor Amber Athey wrote.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that Trump did not intentionally mislead Americans about COVID-19.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “This president at a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it is important to express confidence, it is important to express calm… the president has never lied to the American public on the threat of COVID.”

Related: Dr. Fauci Comes To Trump’s Defense: I ‘Didn’t Get Any Sense’ President Was ‘Distorting’ Coronavirus Pandemic

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