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If you like Bob Woodward's story, you might also like:
Tom Clancy,
Sam Donaldson,
David Halberstam,
Nicholas Kristof,
Charles Kuralt,
Colin Powell,
Dan Rather,
Neil Sheehan
and Mike Wallace

Bob Woodward can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Bob Woodward's recommended reading: All the King's Men

Bob Woodward also appears in the videos:
A Leader of Character

Media and Social Responsibility

Related Links:
Information Clearing House
NNDB
Encyclopedia.com

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Bob Woodward
 
Bob Woodward
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Bob Woodward Interview (page: 2 / 7)

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  Bob Woodward

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Mr. Bradlee, there is a scene early in the book and the movie, All the President's Men, in which you criticize Woodward and Bernstein for their approach to a story about E. Howard Hunt, and his interest in Chappaquiddick and Ted Kennedy. What was that about? Hunt had been studying Ted Kennedy and checked books out of the library

Ben Bradlee: A book had been taken out of the library. When we found out who had taken it out, it was Hunt, and everybody said, "What the hell is Hunt doing taking a book on Teddy Kennedy. Why is he interested in that?" But every Republican in the country was interested in Chappaquiddick, and not a few Democrats, so I said, "Find out what the hell he took it out for. Maybe we have a story and maybe we don't."

So all the while that this was coming out, you were being very careful that there was enough confirmation of these things?

Ben Bradlee: We were being very careful. As the stakes increased, and as the White House looked more and more threatened, and Nixon himself looked more threatened, and his office became threatened, we just were determined that we weren't going to make any silly mistake.

Were there any mistakes?

Ben Bradlee: One.


We made one mistake in a story in which we said that -- Woodward and Bernstein said -- that there was a slush fund of $300,000 set up in the Committee to Re-elect the President, and it was controlled by Haldeman, and that one of the witnesses had testified to that slush fund to the grand jury investigating Watergate. I have forgotten which one it was. But the following morning, Dan Schorr of CBS -- we saw on CBS Morning News-- shoved a microphone in front of this guy and said, "The Post says you did this. Did you?" and he said, "No." And the whole town shook, as far as I'm concerned, because that was the first time we had been accused of getting anything wrong. What it turned out was that the question hinged on whether or not he had told that to the grand jury, and since he hadn't, he was able to say "No." He wasn't asked was there a slush fund, which, of course, there was. It turned out that he hadn't been asked, and that interested us a great deal, because if the prosecution wasn't asking him those interesting question, that suggested that there was a reason they weren't, and the reason might be that they were trying to cover it up. Anyway, it took two days, and we got confirmation that there was, and in fact there was a slush fund of $750,000. So that gave hope to the Republicans, and of course, all of the Republican spokesmen had a field day beating us upside the face over that, but it didn't last very long. Thank God.


This was a long process.

Ben Bradlee: Four hundred stories about Watergate in The Washington Post Four hundred in two years and two months.

Mr. Woodward, there were mistakes made during Watergate, you have said in the book. What were some of the mistakes?

Bob Woodward: We accused some people of things they didn't do that were based on some reports, written reports. We said Haldeman had controlled the secret fund, according to the Grand Jury testimony of the Nixon Committee treasurer, and he had not testified to that. The story was true, but he had never testified to it because they never asked him.

Mr. Bradlee, at what point did you get the inkling that the Oval Office was involved? Do you remember?

Bob Woodward Interview Photo
Ben Bradlee: Well, right away, with Hunt's name and the White House telephone number in there.

And Nixon himself?

Ben Bradlee: Nixon himself? I can't remember, but there were so many. Haldeman? Yes. Ehrlichman? Yes. All of the guys who later went to jail. Mitchell? Yes. It was inconceivable that Nixon wasn't. But of course, that all became academic when the tapes came out. It came out in the Ervin Committee hearings in the Senate. We were told that before we could write it, but yes, we knew it. It was so important. The whole reputation of the paper was hanging on that by the time. There was an election on in '72, and most of the rest of the country was saying, "The Post is just playing politics," and all that stuff.

Mr. Woodward, at what point did you realize that President Nixon was implicated in this?

Bob Woodward: Quite late. We were reporting on the President's men, and the White House people, the Attorney General, John Mitchell, people in the Nixon campaign, the Committee to Re-Elect the President, and the focus was not Nixon. It was only later, when Dean testified, and the tapes came out, that it was quite clear that not only was Nixon involved, he was in charge of the cover-up.

And that this wasn't just a cover-up of a burglary.

Bob Woodward: That's right.


That was the key. The important discovery for Carl and myself was that Watergate wasn't isolated. There were other burglaries. There was the whole intelligence-gathering apparatus. There were spies in all the Democratic candidates' campaigns that had been planted and paid by the Nixon campaign. That they would sabotage campaigns. Things that seemed to be simple and innocuous but were quite devastating, false press releases, and accusing people of various activity and so forth, and a kind of sowing the seeds of discord.


Talk about how it affected Muskie, for example.

Bob Woodward Interview Photo
Bob Woodward: There was a letter forged, saying that Muskie had made some disparaging remark about Canadians, and Muskie got very upset. It was never conclusively established that this had been done by the Nixon campaign, but one of the people in the White House acknowledged to one of our reporters that he had written it. Muskie, in the emotion of the campaign, was trying to explain what had gone on. There had been some disparaging remarks made elsewhere about his wife, and he cried, in the snow, in New Hampshire, standing on the back of a flatbed truck, and it's generally believed that was the end of his candidacy. And of course, Muskie was going to be the strong candidate against Nixon.

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This page last revised on Sep 22, 2010 17:21 EDT