Lunch with Bob Woodward (Last president he voted for? Nixon)

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Bob Woodward strolled pensively towards the impeccably set table by the window – the one with a clear view of the White House across Lafayette Square. Wearing a sober red tie and a spotless dark suit, the legendary Watergate-exposing journalist bore the faint traces of a frown. He had dined at the historic Hay-Adams Hotel so many times since he first came here in 1971, he reflected. Until now it was always him doing the interviewing ...

OK, I invented some of that. But the chance to write in Woodward’s trademark omniscient style was too hard to resist. For all his mild manners and gentle voice, the 66-year-old Washington Post journalist and bestselling author is a man who provokes extreme – and contradictory – reactions. The renowned CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer has called Woodward “the best reporter of our time – maybe the best of all time”. Whereas Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post fame, describes Woodward as “the dumb blond of American journalism”.

Ben Bradlee, editor of the Post in the early 1970s when Woodward and Carl Bernstein dramatically exposed Richard Nixon’s involvement in, and subsequent cover-up of, a burglary of the opposition Democratic party offices in the Watergate complex, says Woodward is “the best reporter I have ever seen”. But for Christopher Hitchens, the English-born scourge of the great and the good, Woodward symbolises the “essential shallowness and ephemerality of Washington journalism”.

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