Bob Woodward Slams New York Times as Not Up to His Standards Over Damning Trump Op-Ed

Famed investigative reporter Bob Woodward criticized The New York Times's decision to run an op-ed by an anonymous Trump administration senior official, saying that he "wouldn't have used it" and would have pushed the unnamed writer for more details and specific incidents.

Woodward, a Washington Post associate editor, said the op-ed was "too vague" and failed to meet basic journalistic standards. "Specific incidents are the building blocks of journalism, as you well know," Woodward told CBS's Sunday Morning.

Woodward, who is promoting his eye-opening new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, said he couldn't identify the op-ed writer but would have asked for more information to back up the writer's claims. Woodward is well known for using anonymous sources, and Fear's inside look into the White House relied on sources who spoke on "deep background" to protect their identities.

"I have no idea who it is. It's very important, who it is. It's very important whether this is somebody who witnessed and participated," Woodward said. "And quite frankly, if there was a person in the White House or the administration who wanted to tell me what's in that op-ed piece, I would say, 'OK, name me who was there. What is the specific incident?'"

The Times has received both praise and criticism for publishing last Wednesday's essay, titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," and for granting the writer anonymity. The author described how a cadre of officials in the administration prevent the president from taking actions that could be detrimental to the country and the world.

Perhaps ironically, the op-ed confirmed the central focus of Woodward's book: that Trump is not in control of his own White House and aides routinely withhold or take away documents in order to protect the administration and the country.

woodward times trump op-ed standards
Bob Woodward, left, and Carl Bernstein, the two reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal, which brought down President Richard Nixon, attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 29, 2017. Woodward's new book, "Fear," paints a damning portrait of President Donald Trump's administration. Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis

The writer also said the administration had been successful "despite" Trump, described the president as amoral and suggested there had been "early whispers" within the Cabinet of possibly invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him.

"We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers," The Times's editorial board wrote.

Trump and the White House immediately called the author "gutless" and a "coward," while the president even suggested the newspaper had made up the official. Trump also said if the author was real, the person should be turned over to "the government at once!"

Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018

Trump had similar reactions to Woodward's book for much of last week. Meanwhile, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued statements claiming they had not insulted or spoken ill of the president.

"The Woodward book is a scam. I don't talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle. I wish the people could see the real facts - and our country is doing GREAT!" the president tweeted Friday.

The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle. I wish the people could see the real facts - and our country is doing GREAT!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018