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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Renowned journalist Bob Woodward probes power, press and politics in UTA speech

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward came to UT Arlington Sept. 19 and explored some topics he knows a lot about – politics, presidential power and journalism.

Woodward’s presentation, held at Texas Hall on the Arlington campus, commenced UTA’s 12th annual Maverick Speakers Series. Attendees included fans of Woodward, aspiring student journalists and community members, resulting in about 1,980 tickets sold.

Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein gained fame for their reporting on the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Woodward and Bernstein co-authored the book All the President’s Men, which chronicled their investigative reporting and events surrounding Watergate. The book was the basis for a 1976 movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

Journalism has changed since the Watergate era with modern technology vastly increasing the speed of disseminating information, and Woodward pointed out that people expect to receive news as quickly as possible.

Woodward has the luxury of time in researching the topics he writes about, he said, but many reporters do not and that can result in unintentional errors in reporting.

Technology also makes it possible for politicians and public officials to bypass traditional news media and communicate directly with the public.

President Trump, for example, “seizes the news cycle almost every day” through his use of Twitter, televised rallies and impromptu chats with reporters on the White House driveway, Woodward said, noting that Trump’s style of communicating is a use of presidential power that is not fully understood by the press or the public.

“My newspaper has located 12,000 untruths that President Trump has uttered since he took office,” said Woodward, who is a Post associate editor and whose latest book is Fear: Trump in the White House.

“Now, whether you like Trump or you don’t like Trump,” he said, “those are documented untruths. The question is, how do we function if we can’t figure out what’s true or come close to it?”

Woodward has written 19 books on American politics, 13 of which topped bestseller lists. He has covered and written about all eight U.S. presidents since Nixon.

“We are at a pivotal point in history about what’s going to happen to our politics,” Woodward said. “‘Can we reform it? Can we calm it down? Can we listen to the case of the other side?”

Along with his thoughts on the U.S. politics, Woodward also shared stories about people and events he has encountered over his career. He said he wants to see more people having discussions on matters that are important to them.

Throughout the year, UTA invites professionals like Woodward to share their experiences and lead thought-provoking conversations through the Maverick Speakers Series.

“UTA’s Maverick Speakers Series is a forum for some of today’s brightest minds to examine the ideas and people who impact the world around us,” said James Hollis, UTA’s director of external affairs. “This isn’t your average lecture series.”

The series continues Oct. 24 with educator and author Jackson Katz. Future speakers include Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.; Grammy-winning artist Common; and Vivek Wadhwa, a tech entrepreneur and author.

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Neetish Basnet
Neetish is a writer and digital content producer for Fort Worth Business Press. He has been covering businesses of all shapes and sizes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for several years. After graduating with a journalism degree from University of Texas-Arlington, Dow Jones News Fund selected him for a digital media fellowship. He still likes the smell of a freshly printed newspaper.

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