June 6, 2022

Legendary Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were guests on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and, of course, Woodward and Bernstein made names for themselves with their dogged reporting later chronicled in the greatest movie ever made about journalism. (“All the President’s Men” topped my list in 2019.)

Even the names — Woodward and Bernstein, in that order — are synonymous with great reporting. As “Reliable Source” host Brian Stelter so accurately described, many became journalists because they were inspired by “All the President’s Men” and the work of Woodward and Bernstein.

Bernstein credited the movie with showing how he and Woodward worked sources, including knocking on doors, looking for answers.

“Sources don’t materialize out of nowhere,” Bernstein said.

On Sunday, Woodward recalled a letter he and Bernstein received from then-Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham after their reporting, which read, “Don’t start thinking too highly of yourselves. You did some of the stories fine. But I want to give you some advice. And the advice is beware the demon pomposity.”

Woodward and Bernstein had a new piece in The Washington Post over the weekend: “Woodward and Bernstein thought Nixon defined corruption. Then came Trump.” It’s a part of the new foreword to the anniversary edition of their book “All the President’s Men.”

In it, they compare Donald Trump to Richard Nixon, writing, “Unlike Nixon, Trump accomplished his subversion largely in public.”

They add, “Both Nixon and Trump created a conspiratorial world in which the U.S. Constitution, laws and fragile democratic traditions were to be manipulated or ignored, political opponents and the media were ‘enemies,’ and there were few or no restraints on the powers entrusted to presidents. Both Nixon and Trump had been outsiders, given to paranoia, relentless in their ambition, carrying chips on their shoulders. Trump from the outer boroughs of New York City, not Manhattan. Nixon from Yorba Linda, Calif., not San Francisco or Los Angeles. Even after achieving the most powerful office in the world, these two men harbored deep insecurities.”

On “Reliable Sources,” Bernstein said, “If you want a description of what brought Nixon and the Nixon presidency down, it is this hate and poison that was in his administration. And we now see (it) in our politics.”

On a lighter note … I loved that Stelter asked Woodward and Bernstein what kind of relationship the two have today.

While Bernstein laughed, Woodward said the two talk “all the time” and sometimes argue, as they have for 50 years. But Woodward said “there is a bond.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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