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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:
Bob Woodward
Watergate Papers
Bradlee Remembered

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Bob Woodward Interview (page: 3 / 7)

Investigative Reporter

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  Bob Woodward

It seems to me that to be a topnotch investigative journalist, you have to have a lot of guts in order to question some of these things.

Bob Woodward: No. The guts are supplied by the owners of the newspaper and the editors. They have always backed what I do. I'm out there doing it, and if there's pressure or debate or controversy, they're absorbing that pressure. Certainly during Watergate, it didn't get transmitted to Carl Bernstein or myself through them. They said, "Keep going. Get to the bottom of it."

Didn't you have a chat with the Post's publisher, Katharine Graham, in the midst of all of this?

Bob Woodward: About six months after Watergate, after Carl and I had written many of -- almost all of -- our main stories, she called me up for lunch. And she had a style of "I want to know what's going on. I want to offer some ideas. Kind of parse it out." But she wasn't the editor. She was the publisher. She had what I call, "Mind on, hands off." She was intellectually engaged in the news, but her hands were not directing, not saying, "Investigate this, don't investigate that, give the emphasis here." That was Bradlee and the editors' job. But she was quite curious, quite well-informed, plugged in. And she said, "When will we know the full story of Watergate? When will all the truth come out?" Quite optimistically. She posed this, almost suggesting that it was inevitable. And my reaction was, I told her, "Well, Carl and I think that it will never come out, that Nixon and his White House are so good at obscuring things, of sealing off information, preventing disclosure, that we'll never know." She looked at me quite stricken and said, "Never? Don't tell me never." And I remember thinking and feeling quite motivated that she was saying the standard here is the bar is quite high. "Don't tell me 'never.' Get to the bottom of it." That your resources, the resources of the newspaper, should be directed at completing this story, getting the full tale, if you would. And it in many ways is, I think, the principle under which she and her son, Don Graham, tried to run The Washington Post. "Don't tell me 'never.' Don't let things elude us. It's our job to figure them out."

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

Mr. Bradlee, it's important to remember that Nixon was reelected during this period.

Bob Woodward Interview Photo
Ben Bradlee: By an overwhelming margin, as we were reminded so often.

But you decided to "back the kids."

Ben Bradlee: I backed the kids.

That's a quote from the movie and the book. What made you "back the kids," Woodward and Bernstein?

Ben Bradlee: Because the kids were right. They were not hard to support, these young reporters, because they were right. Every time the White House denied something, the evidence became clear that it was the White House that was lying. First, the spokesmen at the White House, Ziegler and some of those guys, and next the Attorney General, and Chuck Colson, all of those people, the White House aides, were lying. Robert Dole, and Dole's successor as the chairman of the Republican Party, George Bush the first. These guys lied because they didn't know the truth, and they couldn't believe that they were being lied to.

Nixon didn't last too long in that second term. Where were you when he resigned, and what were your feelings?

Ben Bradlee: I was at The Washington Post, and I couldn't believe it. I mean, I believed it, because it was -- I knew it was coming. I really -- we knew it, we knew it, we knew it, but we couldn't -- we were being told by the people who were telling us that if we publish it, he'll change his mind and won't resign! So we started phrasing it "close to resignation," and "debating resignation," and then, finally, we learned that -- I think he was going to do it at nine o'clock at night, or eight o'clock at night. He resigned. Well, I was down there. Where the hell? I mean, I lived in that place for those periods. And we were so scared that we were going to -- By this time, we knew that the front page was going to be a historical document. It was going to be reproduced in the history books, and we wanted to be sure that we got it right, and be sure that some -- there wasn't a typo. In those days, you worried terribly about typos. We wanted to be sure that it wasn't sabotaged in some way by, you know, printers slipping in the "F" word or something like that that was going to screw it up. And we had to be sure the headline was right. We had to be sure. Just -- it was terribly, critically important that we do it right and that we not brag, not seem to be bragging, and that we didn't allow any television in there for days.

I was worried about the Post's image of all of this, and that there would be a segment of society who said, you know, "They were out to get him, those bastards, and they got him." And it was going to be -- we were just very careful. We had such good sources. One of the sources I can now reveal -- I mean, I have talked about -- was Senator Goldwater, who was a great friend of my wife's family, and I used to talk to him all the time. I'd have drinks with him early -- all of late July and early August. And he would be going over to the White House to give Nixon the news that he didn't have any -- his support in the Senate was eroding. And he was the one who said that. He told me first that he was going to resign, wasn't sure when, and for God's sake don't write it as hard, because he won't. So we were terribly worried, and we didn't -- it's a big newspaper and a lot of people in it, and you can't control all of them even if you wanted to. So we tried to just keep people out of the building. We didn't allow any television people in. We didn't allow television in for six months, I don't think. And when Redford wanted to film the movie in the Post, we told him he couldn't. He wanted to film it from 3:00 in the morning until 8:00 in the morning, and we just told him it was not possible.

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