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Watergate scandal reporter Bob Woodward imparted his knowledge on presidents, politics and reporting at a live interview at McLennan Community College Tuesday night.
Woodward is most known for breaking the Watergate scandal in 1972 alongside fellow reporter Carl Bernstein, as well as writing 17 nonfiction bestsellers.
Woodward’s interview Tuesday was a part of the McLennan Distinguished Lecture Series.
Woodward talked about what makes a good president. Woodard said he feels there is little good about American politics. Presidents play dirty, he said, but one redeeming quality of presidents after President Richard Nixon is that they don’t have hateful motivation.
“None of them are haters,” he said. “They play rough, they play dirty sometimes. They go over the line. But the central political impulse is not hate.”
Speaking specifically on Nixon, Woodward said the president was a complex man, filled with uncontrollable anger.
“The piston of the Nixon administration was hate,” he said.
Woodward, who has written and reported on numerous recent American presidents, said he has been as critical of President Barack Obama as anyone from the neutral media has. He said it is important for a president to be liked, and for the president to like or appear to like others. When one is a leader, he said, they should adopt what he called the “Hillary Clinton rule” and “fake it till you make it.”
“A president has to engage,” he said.
Obama, he said, is closed off. Woodward said it is difficult for him to know if he is seeing a transparent, communicative Obama.
When asked about the recent government shutdown and whether Obama has ‘won,’ Woodard said all Americans and sides lost in the shutdown. It is the obligation of everyone in government to fix political and governmental issues, not for one party to win, he said.
“This isn’t a political contest,” he said.
Woodward also spoke about his career as a journalist. Journalism is the best job, he said, because as a journalist he gets to look into the interesting part of people’s lives and leave when their lives become uninteresting.
Woodward said he believes the media is equipped to report about the president, but America has fewer reporters today. In a society so immersed in the Internet, there is impatience among the readers and a need for speed. Readers want information on presidents given to them in Twitter format.
“You don’t understand complex personalities and connections in 140 words,” he said.
Woodward said it is frustrating working as a journalist because a journalist cannot report on everything. One can’t be a journalist without being bothered by what information they miss and what they have yet to understand, he said.
On his reporting style, Woodard said, “When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is, ‘Where are the b—–ds hiding?’”