On Sunday’s State of the Union on CNN, they interviewed Watergate legends Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Woodward warned that he sees “self-righteousness and smugness” in the media ridicule of President Trump, but Bernstein demonstrated media self-righteousness in declaring everyone know the press is “the last bastion of truth that makes democracy function.”
DANA BASH: Carl, briefly, I just — I want to also get your perspective on the fact that like — that one of the hallmarks of the Trump presidency has been to go after the press, calling us fake news and even worse. How does this compare to what you dealt with, with Richard Nixon? He was no fan or friend of the press.
CARL BERNSTEIN: Nixon in Watergate tried to make the conduct of the press the issue, instead of the conduct of the president and the men around him. Donald Trump has gone even farther. He’s tried to undermine the credibility of the press as a national institution, to the detriment of the country, by these broad attacks on the press, which, really, the press is, in the United States, as our leaders have recognized going back to the days of the early republic, the last bastion of truth that makes democracy function.
Yes, we make mistakes, and we need to admit our mistakes. We ought [not] to be too provocative, which we sometimes are, with a president who is putting a lot of bait out there. And, sometimes, we take the bait and get a little petty.
I would like to see a lot less of criticizing on our air the president for playing golf. Let him play all the golf that he wants. I don’t think that’s our job. We’ve got a deadly serious inquiry in front of us. And the reporting, by and large, by the mainstream press, by The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, has been some of the greatest reporting of the presidency that we have seen in the last 50, 60 years.
BASH: Amen, Amen, Carl.
Woodward said “That’s right,” but added “the tone is a big issue here. In lots of reporting, particularly on television commentary, there’s kind of a self-righteousness and smugness in people kind of ridiculing the president. When we reported on Nixon, it was obviously a very different era, but there was — we did not adopt a tone of ridicule. The tone was, what are the facts?”
That might have been the tone inside the Washington Post newsroom, but it wasn’t the tone of television news. Everyone could tell that hated Nixon. Still, it was surely more polite than the way CNN and others uncork on Trump on a daily basis.