Bob Woodward talks journalism and politics

Jessica Harden

Bob Woodward spoke at the UNF Arena on January 21st. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Bob Woodward spoke at the UNF Arena on January 21st. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Standing in front of a more-than-sold-out crowd, Bob Woodward captivated his audience. No politician was safe from his remarks as he shared stories from his years in journalism.

Woodward is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, once in 1973 for his work on breaking the Watergate scandal, and again in 2002 for his coverage of the September 11th attacks. His journey from little known reporter to award-winning journalist was retold in his lecture “Presidential Leadership and the Price of Politics” at the UNF Arena on January 21st.

Woodward worked with Carl Bernstein as an investigative journalist on the Watergate scandal, leading to his first Pulitzer Prize and the Watergate investigations. When the microphone in the arena went out briefly, Woodward did not hesitate to jokingly blame Gordon Liddy, the man rumored to be responsible for the Watergate wiretapping.

Woodward’s work in investigative journalism continued from uncovering Watergate to President Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Woodward woke up one morning to a call from Bernstein, who said, “The son of a bitch pardoned the son of a bitch.” Woodward had no doubt that the pardon was the ultimate form of corruption. During an interview, Ford tested his belief.

Ford said Nixon needed to be pardoned. A full investigation would have meant years of more Watergate headlines, which would have kept the nation from moving on.

Woodward had gotten it wrong. Now, lecturing many years later, he said he was ashamed. In order to get it right he said you have to investigate the story from all sides.

This lesson was one part of the larger lecture, part of the Presidential Lecture Series. Woodward focused on politics from Nixon to Obama. He said one major problem with the current administration is the inability of the president to work on both sides of the aisle.

Woodward said that sending President Obama and his key staffers to Camp David with the opposition in Congress would make the two parties learn to work together really fast.

From Obama, he looks forward to the next election, saying he believes that Hillary Clinton will run. Woodward did say that he thought everyone could do to learn Clinton’s “fake it till you make it” rule in politics.

In a time of online media, Woodward still believes in the importance of newspapers and doing the hard work in the field of journalism.