Sirota criticizes Woodward for not releasing Trump information sooner

Jacobin Editor-at-Large David Sirota slammed longtime journalist Bob Woodward in an interview with Hill.TV over Woodward's decision to delay reporting that President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE privately told him the coronavirus pandemic would be particularly deadly.

“Here you have a reporter who has the president of the United States, the head of government, on tape in early February, in an on-the-record situation, I mean that was confirmed by the Washington Post, it wasn’t off the record, where the president says essentially that the virus is extremely lethal and is transmissible through the air," Sirota said. The journalist has that, then sees the president going out and downplaying the virus, as Trump himself admitted. He sees the president, in some cases going out there, and in some cases a few months later saying ‘come to my rallies, it’s completely safe.'

“He’s got an audiotape of the president saying ‘Actually, the virus is much more lethal than the flu. It is airborne,’ and he sits on the tape for months, as tens of thousands of people are killed," he continued. "Now, that doesn’t mean that the deaths are Bob Woodward’s fault directly, but, again, I go back to the point of a duty to warn."

In February, Trump told the veteran journalist, “It goes through the air. That's always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

Woodward released tapes of his interviews with Trump this week ahead of the publication of his new book “Rage.”

Sirota on Friday said that “the job of a journalist is to publish information so the public is informed.”

“The public should be informed, for one thing. If the president is not telling the truth, one job of a journalist is to make the public aware when politicians aren’t telling the truth,” he said. “The second point here is that there’s also a duty to warn about a public health crisis, and Woodward didn’t do that. I mean I don’t understand how he was waking up every morning, seeing the death toll and sitting on that tape."

Woodward defended his decision to delay the reporting from February this week, telling The Associated Press “He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?

“If I had done the story at that time about what he knew in February, that’s not telling us anything we didn’t know,” Woodward said, noting that he is publishing the book before the November general election. “That was the demarcation line for me. Had I decided that my book was coming out on Christmas, the end of this year, that would have been unthinkable.”