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Rage Against the Trump Machine

It’s an impressive journalistic feat to be able to claim that once within your career, your reporting skills have resulted in the downfall of a President. But twice?

Practically unheard of. Unless you’re Bob Woodward.

Woodward’s reporting comes full circle, slamming the Trump presidency similarly to how he did Nixon’s during the infamous Watergate scandal. 

In his newest book Rage, which is due to hit shelves September 15th, Woodward reveals new information concerning the inner workings of the Trump Administration, obtained from “hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand witnesses, as well as participants’ notes, emails, diaries, calendars and confidential documents,” and even includes “25 personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that have not been public before.”

The real selling point of the novel is an onslaught of new insight into the nature of Trump’s presidency. Displayed in a series of 18 newly disclosed interviews, Woodward exposes the thought process behind Donald Trump’s actions during the pandemic-ridden months of December 2019 through July 2020. 

Within the tapes dating back to February, Trump explicitly mentioned to Woodward that he knew the extent of the damage the newly discovered COVID-19 disease could cause, claiming that he was aware it was “deadly,” and yet wanted to “play it down” to the public. The inconsistencies of what Trump knew versus what he conveyed to the American public extended to how the virus impacted children—at the same time he was publicly stating that children were “almost immune” to the virus, he was already aware that it had the potential to affect “plenty of young people too.”

Trump and his supporters argue that the downplaying of the severity of the virus was all in the name of keeping the public from panicking while many details early on remained unknown. Furthermore, in a recent Tweet, Trump claims that Bob Woodward’s inability to report his quotes at an earlier date upheld his testimony that he did not want to incite panic. 

However, the interviews expand beyond the COVID-19. The alleged slander against the military, the inability to express empathy towards the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the delicate and unique exchanges between President Trump and his North Korean correspondents are all woven in to the matter that is covered. The evidence is stacked, and the list of sources is crystal clear, contrary to the anonymity Woodward faced backlash for in Watergate. 

With such an election in a mere 53 days, it is already evident that the swing states will fight the bulk of the battle, and many are wondering whether Rage will have any impact on the outcome. It preaches to the choir on the far left, and causes the far right to dig their heels deeper into the dirt. Says former deputy White House Chief of staff Karl Rove, “I think a lot of this is going to be partisan screaming and shouting… [it won’t be] effective [in] helping move us forward as a country.” But the question is, and always will be: will it sway those on the fence?

Within these tapes, it is apparent that Woodward has once again done what he’s famous for: hammering speculation with fact, and lending the truth to his audience due to his affinity for asking questions. Despite the polarizing politics of the situation, if you strip away the layers of policy, at its rawest what remains is good journalism

Whether Trump is a “crook,” however, we’ll leave up to you.    

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