The audiotapes that Bob Woodward produced from his Trump interviews were stunning. Not only did the President know how dangerous COVID-19 was in February, but he also chose to downplay the risks.
With this information presented to Woodward, why didn’t he come forward with the interview tapes? Doesn’t he have a journalistic ethic to demonstrate what he’s learned to help others?
The issue here is more about Donald Trump. Woodward had to verify everything he was told since the President is cavalier with the truth. It took about three months for the publisher to realize that everything being discussed was authentic.
That means Woodward and his publisher knew about Trump’s bait-and-switch since May. Why didn’t they release the book at that time?
Long-Form Reporting Takes More Time to Develop
Although the criticism of Woodward making money by withholding the Trump tapes is valid, it is also a reflection of the format.
It takes time to edit, format, and publish a book. It’s like a long-term version of a newspaper.
Publishers make money from newspapers because people buy them to read what is happening in the world. Woodward’s book is no different from that.
If anything, Woodward’s delay ensured that each reader could see the most accurate story possible. It’s a book-length investigative journalism piece that exposes the turmoil, lies, and deceit from the Trump Administration.
That means the onus for the choices fall on Simon & Schuster, Woodward’s publisher. Deciding to hold the story until the election season makes the narrative more political. It enhances the profit motive while putting innocent lives at risk because of the misinformation in the news cycle.
There’s no doubt that the books sell. Woodward almost sold a million copies of his last Trump narrative. Most are in the 200,000 range. That’s good money in an era when everyone can access information online.
Woodward needed to verify his information. He fact-checked everything. Although the criticism for holding the story is valid, he also followed the industry’s standard practices.