Washington Post editor Bob Woodward talked about his investigation of the Watergate scandal and his new book on the Bush administration at Monday night’s “Kalb Report.”
Calling Woodward “an institution, even an industry,” moderator Marvin Kalb prodded him about the identity of “Deepthroat,” the White House official who helped then-Post reporters Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover a scandal concerning President Nixon in 1972.
Woodward has said he will not reveal Deepthroat’s identity while he is still alive.
“You’re making (the real identity of Deepthroat) a big deal,” Woodward told Kalb. “I made an agreement, and there are reasons for that which will become clear when the whole story comes out.”
The two-year investigation into the burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters, then located in the Watergate complex, precipitated the resignation of Nixon in 1974.
“Deepthroat had a real sense of what it was like in the Nixon White House … people used their office for personal revenge,” Woodward said.
“Watergate (and Deepthroat) was not just one thing. The piston driving the Nixon administration was hate.”
Kalb then asked Woodward about his job as The Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations.
“You are now a major chronicle of contemporary American history,” Kalb told Woodward. “Tell me about your day. How early do you get up in the morning?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Woodward responded. “Sometimes I am up at 5 a.m., sometimes 6 a.m. Sometimes I work from 4 to 7 a.m. …No one is calling (at that time). There are no interruptions.”
The most heated point in the conversation came when Kalb questioned Woodward’s methods in getting an interview with President George W. Bush.
“You make deals with people you interview. In the old days, that was strictly forbidden,” said Kalb, referring to a 20-page memo outlining the interview that Woodward sent to Bush prior to the sit-down.
During his two and a half-hour interview with Bush, Woodward said he asked the president more than 300 questions – many more than were outlined in the memo.
Some tips Woodward gave to aspiring young journalists in the audience were to “work all ends of the hierarchy, (interview) people you have never heard of” and to put together information “a piece at a time.”
When interviewing, a reporter should “know something already” in order to get the source to be forthcoming in divulging useful information.
“The Kalb Report” is co-sponsored by GW, the National Press Club and the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.
This article appeared in the November 13, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.