It didn’t take Deep Throat to get legendary journalist Bob Woodward to open up about covering Watergate on Wednesday morning.
It was just Jim Boren, the former Fresno Bee editor and now head of the Fresno State Institute of Media and Public Trust.
Boren posed questions to Woodward in his San Joaquin Valley Town Hall appearance at the Saroyan Theatre.
The noted Washington Post reporter and prolific best-selling author delivered on the hits, telling stories about breaking the Watergate story that took down Richard Nixon and why Donald Trump would talk with him.
Woodward on the Ford Pardon
A less-heard tale involved President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon in September 1974. Woodward thought it was the next step of high-level corruption.
Carl Bernstein, Woodward’s WaPo partner, told him after the news of the pardon, “The S.O.B. pardoned the S.O.B.”
Nearly 25 years later, Woodward changed his mind after interviewing Ford. Another thing that helped change Woodward’s mind was Ford receiving the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2001.
“What else did I get wrong?” Woodward said, to laughter from the hundreds in the audience.
Woodward thinks investigative journalism continues to be crucial in America’s newsrooms. We also discussed the pardon of Richard Nixon. @RealBobWoodward now believes President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was a courageous act. That wasn’t his take when it happened. @FSMCJDept
— Jim Boren (@jboren4507) March 29, 2023
Deep Throat, Trump, and the Future of Journalism
Woodward talked about his Watergate source, “Deep Throat,” who later unmasked himself as Mark Felt, the FBI associate director in charge of the Watergate investigation.
Because of Felt’s position, he met with Woodward and Bernstein in underground parking garages.
“I was new to this. I thought reporters did this all the time,” Woodward said. He hasn’t had an underground parking meeting since.
Woodward had no trouble having Trump open up to him in a series of recorded interviews starting in 2019. But he revealed that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, helped open the door to Trump’s decision to do the interviews.
“He won’t put words in your mouth,” Woodward said Graham told Trump.
“You have to challenge him, but not argue with him,” Woodward said of interviewing Trump.
The interviews yielded four books examining the Trump White House: “Fear,” “Rage,” “Peril,” and “The Trump Tapes.”
Regarding the future of journalism, Woodward said the continuing decline of local newspapers is a threat to democracy.
Social media has also played a role, reducing the patience of news consumers.
“You can’t consense on social media,” Woodward said.
Matlin Will Close Town Hall Season
Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin will deliver the final Town Hall lecture for the season, scheduled for April 19, 10:30 a.m. at Saroyan Theatre.
GV Wire co-sponsors the Town Hall series.