Fact Check

Did Trump Once Criticize the Obama White House for 'Attacking' Bob Woodward?

A Donald Trump tweet from 2013 about the Obama administration and reporter Bob Woodward was seized on by the president's critics in 2018.

Published Sep 5, 2018

 (Gage Skidmore / FLICKR)
Image Via Gage Skidmore / FLICKR
Donald Trump once wrote that "only the Obama White House can get away with attacking Bob Woodward."

In September 2018, excerpts from an upcoming book on the Trump White House by veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward portrayed the Trump administration as having a "nervous breakdown of executive power," with senior aides quoted as calling the president an "idiot" and a "liar" and declaring that they hid policy documents to prevent Trump from signing them.

President Trump quickly took to Twitter to dismiss the book, Fear: Trump in the White House, as a "discredited" work of "totally [made] up stories" that was "full of lies and phony sources" that constituted a "con on the public":

Woodward, best known for his work with the Washington Post in uncovering elements of the Watergate scandal, simply stated that he stood by his work, which was based on hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources conducted on deep background.

Given President Trump's subsequent efforts to discredit Woodward and his reporting, some critics found an amusing irony in the release of a recorded phone call between Woodward and Trump that had taken place about a month earlier, in which the president told the reporter that "I would’ve loved to have spoken to you [for the book] ... I think you’ve always been fair."

Those critics found even more irony in a five-year-old tweet from Trump that referenced a February 2013 Woodward opinion piece which blamed President Obama for a failure to compromise on the federal budget. Woodward's piece prompted "a shouting match between Woodward and Gene Sperling," Obama’s economic adviser, "followed by an e-mail in which Sperling said that Woodward 'will regret staking out that claim'" -- words perceived at the time as a veiled threat.

That political contretemps spurred Trump to tweet that "only the Obama [White House] can get away with attacking Bob Woodward":

It remains to be seen whether those words will hold true, or whether another presidential administration will indeed "get away with attacking Bob Woodward."


BBC News.   "Donald Trump Condemns Bob Woodward Book as 'Con.'"     5 September 2018

Rucker, Philip and Robert Costa.   "Bob Woodward’s New Book Reveals a ‘Nervous Breakdown’ of Trump’s Presidency."     The Washington Post.   4 September 2018.

Blake, Aaron.   "Transcript: Phone Call Between President Trump and Journalist Bob Woodward."     The Washington Post.   4 September 2018.

Heavey, Susan.   "Journalist Bob Woodward Blasts Obama 'Madness' in Handling Cuts."     Reuters.   27 February 2013.

Parker, Kathleen.   "The Obama White House ‘Threat’ to Bob Woodward Matters."     The Washington Post.   1 March 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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