Ethics Question for Skoop

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Ethics Question for Skoop

#1 Post by silverscreenselect » Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:48 am

A question for our resident journalist.

Bob Woodward has gotten a lot of criticism for withholding his conversations with Trump in Jan-March in which Trump indicated that he knew the coronavirus was more serious than most people thought or that he let on publicly. These conversations were on the record. According to Woodward, he wanted to check out Trump's claims and that, by the time he did so, the extent of the pandemic was already quite well known. Woodward conducted 18 separate interviews with Trump and presumably, had he made Trump's statements public, Trump would probably have not given any more interviews and would have given his own explanations for whatever conversations Woodward already had on tape. There is also the possibility with Trump that anything he says is overblown to begin with, so that by claiming he had things under control, he was just patting himself on the back. And then there's Trump's on-tape version that he didn't want to panic the public.

My question isn't about Trump but Woodward. Should he revealed these conversations back in February or early March when it might have done some good, according to health experts? Why or why not?
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Re: Ethics Question for Skoop

#2 Post by christie1111 » Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:55 am

Sharing information about the corona virus severity was Trump's responsibility not Woodword's.

Downplaying the how dangerous it could be, muffling experts, encouraging people to not wear masks, among other things, is all on Trump.

Trying to put the blame on Woodward is misdirection. Something Trump tries all the time.
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Re: Ethics Question for Skoop

#3 Post by Ritterskoop » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:04 pm

If Woodward had released his tapes earlier, the denials would have started earlier, so it is only about timing.

But it's a great question. My ruling: If Woodward were still "only" a journalist, working for a paper or organization that is trying to educate the public, then yes, he should have released the tapes earlier. Since he is NOT working in public service, he is likely to have an arrangement with his publisher where he can't release stuff much ahead of time, like an NDA, because it would compromise sales.

Today I heard splices of Woodward's tapes intercut with other tapes of things the President said in public at the same times, and they were jarring in their 180-degree-ness. I understand the concept of denying a thing long enough, and maybe it will go away. But it doesn't seem to have worked on the virus. Since the President agreed to 18 separate interviews, on tape, he has to live with the outcome. Bob Woodward is the closest thing we have to a living presidential historian (he has cranked out a book or two on every president for a while, I think). But this book release is not even yet the October Surprise (seems like we have one every day, already!).
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