Book not anti-Trump

Award-winning reporter gives a well-researched look at a White House is equal parts reality show and HBO drama


Theo Kennon III, Lamp staff

Author: Bob Woodward ‎ (‎448 pages Hardcover)

Published‎ by ‎Simon & Schuster on ‎Sept. 11, 2018

Bob Woodward is a respected reporter, even by President Donald J. Trump. He has been since the early 1970s, when he partnered with Carl Bernstein to report on the Watergate scandal that lead to a series of events ending with President Nixon‘s resignation from office. The impact of that story is why every major scandal ends with the suffix “–gate” even today. If a reporter wants a short hand way to indicate a scandal in the gaming industry, then it’s named “Gamergate.”

Woodward is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and editor at the Washington Post. He has written 18 books on American politics, with this becoming his 13th best seller. His research was done under the deep background method of reporting in which people only allow basic credential information. Woodward compiled all information from meeting notes, diaries, files or other public documents, books and first hand interviews. He records each interview so he has exact wording and phrasing from every subject of his reporting, whether they later regret what they have said on the record is another story.

Woodward tried several times to speak to Trump himself. However, in a later interview with Woodward, Trump stated that they never told him Woodward was calling to interview him for this book.

The quote from candidate Trump that inspired the title is “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word: Fear.”

Without Trump’s direct thoughts, the book becomes about his staff and administration. The book paints a picture of Trump through Woodward’s encounters with him. Trump becomes a force of nature similar to a hurricane crossing the path of Florida residents. It is not a pro-Trump nor anti-Trump book, however it has nuggets for both sides.

The most known example is removing a draft of a letter to back out of an agreement with South Korea before Trump could sign it. This may seem anti-Trump, but the book is well-balanced. Woodard lambasted the FBI for including the unverified reports that Trump hired sex workers in a hotel in Russia. These establish the President as a man who follows his instincts first and has little understanding of international relationships beyond his tremendous business expertise. Trump is presented as a successful Queens borough  billionaire business mogul without the taint of a Washington insider. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to the reader.

The president is described in the book, but “Fear” is not really about him. The book is about the effect Trump has, his appeal, and the people around him trying to use or curtail him as president. The White House comes across as an HBO reboot of “The West Wing” with a measure of Trump’s own reality show “The Apprentice” as Trump makes quick and emotional decisions. He has built an empire but never run office of government. I recommend every voter to read this book.

Theo Kennon III can be reached at [email protected]