On Tuesday, excerpts from Watergate journalist Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House began circulating among the liberal media, who wasted little time in using them to trash the President. During the evening newscasts, ABC, CBS, and NBC racked up over 13 minutes of coverage pushing the book’s claims. They basically gave it free advertisements.
In all, the networks spent 13 minutes and 31 seconds hawking Woodward's book. ABC’s World News Tonight fawned over it the most with five minutes and 39 seconds. Over two segments, CBS Evening News spent five minutes and two seconds hyping the book, while NBC Nightly News came in last with two minutes and 50 seconds (only one segment).
Of course, the liberal media latched onto hyperbole like President Trump having a “nervous breakdown” and the White House becoming “crazy town”. “The latest book on the Trump White House paints an ugly picture of the current presidency. Bob Woodward, whose reporting helped bring down President Richard Nixon, says Chief-of-Staff John Kelly said, ‘We're in crazy town,’” announced CBS anchor Jeff Glor at the top of the show (while ABC and NBC began their broadcasts with Tropical Storm Gordon).
After first covering Tropical Storm Gordon, ABC anchor David Muir thought he was being cute by mocking the storm over the White House. “In the meantime, next this Tuesday evening, to another storm swirling tonight, this time, the explosive new book about President Trump and the White House,” he joked.
The media love to paint Trump as a bumbling moron. So naturally, they gravitated to claims that said he had the intelligence of a grade-schooler. “Exasperated, Mattis later told close associates the President, quote, ‘Had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader,’” ABC senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega said. “Chief-of-staff John Kelly once reportedly complained the president is "an idiot," saying, ‘it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazy town.’”
And given their Russia obsession, the liberal networks pounced on an excerpt that suggested Trump’s legal team thought he was going to commit perjury if he spoke to the Special Counsel. “Woodward describing the President's one-time lead attorney John Dowd so convinced the President would commit perjury, he staged a practice interview last January,” reported NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker.
“That session so rocky, Woodward reports, Mr. Dowd later told Mr. Trump, ‘don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit,’” she continued.
The other bit of gossip they seized on was the assertion that President Trump’s aides were the only thing keeping the country from a grave disaster. “In Woodward's telling, the President's aides fear not what he might do to them, but what he might do to the country,” said CBS national security correspondent David Martin. They all peddled a wild story of staffers stealing documents off of the President’s desk to keep him from seeing them.
This is the same kind of over the top glorification they gave to Omarosa’s book just a few short weeks ago and Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury earlier in the year. And we know how those ones turned out.
The transcripts are below, click "expand to read:
ABC's World News Tonight
September 4, 2018
6:35 p.m. Eastern
DAVID MUIR: In the meantime, next this Tuesday evening, to another storm swirling tonight, this time, the explosive new book about President Trump and the White House. It's called Fear and it in, author Bob Woodward revealing for the first time that the President reportedly took part in a practice drill for a possible interview with the Special Counsel. Woodward reports his lawyers were so concerned, they made their case to Robert Mueller themselves, saying the President should not be questioned. Well tonight here, the President and his team are now denying what's being reported in this new and explosive book. And you're about to hear the phone call, the audio between the President and the book's author who tried multiple times to get an interview with the president. Here's our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega.
[Cuts to video]
CECILIA VEGA: President Trump once seemed eager to sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
VEGA: But aid according to the new book by veteran Washington journalist Bob Woodward, the President's legal team was so worried he would commit perjury, they held a mock interview session. In it, the President reportedly lied, contradicted himself, and ultimately became so frustrated he lashed out at his team, saying, "This thing's a damn hoax. I don't really want to testify."
Woodward writes: “The President's lawyers then sat down with Mueller and described the practice session.” “He just made something up. That's his nature," lawyer John Dowd reportedly told the Special Counsel. "I'm not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot." Mueller replies, "John, I understand." And before Dowd quit, he warned the President, "Don't testify. It's either that or an Orange jumpsuit." Tonight, Dowd denies any of this happened. But Woodward, who broke Watergate scandal, says he conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with first-hand witnesses.
VEGA: In the book, called Fear, Woodward paints a picture of top aides ridiculing the boss behind his back. After the President repeatedly questioned the cost of America's large military presence on the Korean peninsula, defense secretary Jim Mattis bluntly told him, "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III." Exasperated, Mattis later told close associates the President, quote, "Had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader."
Chief-of-staff John Kelly once reportedly complained the president is "an idiot," saying, "it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazy town. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had.”
Woodward says others spend their days trying to prevent President Trump from making catastrophic mistakes. Former Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn even swiping sensitive papers right off the Oval Office desk to keep the President from seeing them, saying, quote, "Got to protect the country."
The President not holding back either, saying of his favorite punching bag, embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb southerner. He couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
VEGA: The White House says this book is nothing more than fabricated stories and it does not end there. This just in from the Chief-of-staff, he calls it, quote, “total BS,” and from the Defense Secretary, this is, quote, “a product of someone's rich imagination.” But tonight, David, Woodward is standing by his reporting.
CBS Evening News
September 4, 2018
6:32 p.m. Eastern
JEFF GLOR: Good evening. I'm Jeff Glor. The latest book on the Trump White House paints an ugly picture of the current presidency. Bob Woodward, whose reporting helped bring down President Richard Nixon, says Chief-of-Staff John Kelly said, "We're in crazy town." Woodward says top aides were said to steel papers off the president's desk so he couldn't end trade deals. Mr. Trump quickly responded, telling The Daily Caller, quote, “It's just another bad book. He's had a lot of credibility problems.” David Martin spoke to Woodward and begins our coverage tonight.
[Cuts to video]
DAVID MARTIN: White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly said of President Trump, "He's an idiot. It's pointless to try convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in crazy town." Defense Secretary James Mattis told close associates his commander-in-chief “acted like and had the understanding of ‘a fifth or sixth grader.’” Late today, Kelly and Mattis denied the comments, but the book is filled with derogatory descriptions of the President by senior advisers.
Woodward's devastating account is called "Fear: Trump in the White House." It hasn't been published yet, but the White House says it's nothing more than fabricated stories told to make the President look bad. Woodward tried but was not granted an interview with the President. In a brief phone conversation last month, Woodward warned him what was coming.
MARTIN: In Woodward's telling, the President's aides fear not what he might do to them, but what he might do to the country. His then-chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter stole this document withdrawing from a free trade agreement with South Korea off the President's oval office desk so he could not sign it. Porter spent about one-third of his effort keeping the President from acting on impulses such as his belief the U.S. is being taken to the cleaners.
MARTIN: Seven months into the administration, at a meeting in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mattis tried to convince the president of the value of military alliances and free trade agreements. But the President declared, "This is all B.S. " Then, according to a summary written by a White House official, proceeded to lecture and insult the entire group about how they didn't know anything when it came to defense or national security. The president emerged from the meeting seeming in fine spirits.
MARTIN: But the summary went on to say “many of the President's senior advisers are extremely concerned with his erratic nature, his relative ignorance, his inability to learn, as well as what they consider his dangerous views.”
And, according to Woodward, one of the president's attorneys, John Dowd, “felt he would commit perjury if interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” Dowd, who has since resigned, believed the President had nothing to hide but was incapable of giving simple, factual answers.” "Don't testify," Dowd warned, “it's either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
[Cuts back to live]
The book ends with this sentence, "Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president, ‘You're an effing liar.’” Dowd has issuing a statement denying he ever called the president a liar, but I can tell you from having interviewed Woodward that he is very confident in his information, much of which comes from diaries and notes made by participants in the events.
GLOR: We should also mention that Woodward's book is published by Simon & Schuster, that is a division of CBS.
NBC Nightly News
September 4, 2018
7:03 p.m. Eastern
LESTER HOLT: Let's turn now to that explosive book from legendary Washington Post journalist, Bob Woodward. He knows a thing or two about reporting on White House, past and present. And his latest is sending shockwaves far beyond Washington. It paints a portrait of a White House deeply alarmed by the boss' behavior. Let's get more on it from NBC's Kristen Welker.
[Cuts to video]
KRISTEN WELKER: In his explosive new book, Bob Woodward describes the Trump presidency in the midst of a “nervous breakdown,” excerpts first obtained by The Washington post, quotes aides calling it “crazy town” and at times paralyzed by the Russia investigation and that possible interview with Robert Mueller.
WELKER: Woodward describing the President's one time lead attorney John Dowd so convinced the President would commit perjury, he staged a practice interview last January. That session so rocky, Woodward reports Mr. Dowd later told Mr. Trump, “don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit.” The book, also a remarkable portrait of aides taking extreme measures to block their boss. Former economic advisor, Gary Cohn, reportedly trying to prevent him from a trade agreement with South Korea by swiping a letter off his desk.
And after the President told Defense Secretary James Mattis he wanted to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashar Assad for a chemical attack on civilian, Mattis reportedly told the President on the phone he would do it but then telling a senior aide, quote, “we’re not going to do any of that.”
And the book describing extraordinary insults from the President's staff, Woodward writing Mattis described Mr. Trump as having “the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader” and Chief-of-Staff John Kelly has called the President “an idiot”, an account first reported in the NBC News.
Tonight, Kelly calling that accusation “B.S” and “another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.” Mattis calling the accusations “the product of someone's rich imagination.”
Woodward also describing a President lobbing his own insults, calling Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “traitor”, “mentally retarded”, and a “dumb southerner.” Woodward didn't talk to President Trump for the book saying his requests went unanswered. Tonight, publishing this phone call with the President from last month.
WELKER: Late today, the President responding in an interview with the Daily Caller, saying, “it's just another bad book” and Woodward had “a lot of credibility problems”.