The United States is in a “governing crisis,” renowned journalist Bob Woodward told a packed audience Thursday night at the UT Arlington’s Texas Hall.
And the power of the presidency, which has been growing with each new term, is stronger than ever with Donald Trump in the White House, Woodward said.
Woodward, one of the two Washington Post reporters who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, was the first guest in this year’s Maverick Speaker Series.
Woodward, who was promoting his book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” said many people don’t realize the power held by the president today.
The president is supposed to be bound by the Constitution, but that ideal is being tested, he said. The ability to send the military into conflicts without congressional approval serves as an example.
“The concentration of power only grows with each president,” Woodward told the audience. “When’s the last time we had a war declared by Congress? It was World War II, and I think we’ve had some wars since then.”
Trump’s power as president of the United States is something Americans have to live with, he added.
“Donald Trump seized history’s clock and whether we like it or don’t like it, it is Donald Trump’s America we are living in, and we have to face that,” said Woodward, who has written 19 books on American politics with 13 of them topping bestseller lists.
However, Trump is not the only problem, he said, but also the media and the way people react to news today.
“Can we calm down?” Woodward asked. “Can we listen to the case of the other side? And in the media, can we get out of the acrimony?”
The news media today has a problem its approach, and cable news is one of the biggest culprits, he said. It’s based on emotions, with lots of yelling and little effort to understand the points of view held by those with contrasting opinions, Woodward said.
“It’s self-satisfactory, impulsive and does not allow news the time to develop,” he said.
It all comes down to being pompous, he added.
“Pomposity keeps us from hearing the case that others have,” Woodward said. “What do you do in the news business to remedy this and make it better? I think one of the things we have to do is tone down the emotion.”
Woodward said the media has an obligation to serve as a watchdog and a check on presidential powers.
“I think the media needs to get better, I think politics need to get better,” he said.
“Fear: Trump in the White House” looks behind the scenes at the administration through hours of interviews with White House staffers, telling of the way Trump leads the nation behind closed doors and the interactions between him and those working for him.