Wood­ward: Trump power is about ‘fear’

Leg­endary re­porter to dis­cuss his book in Coral Springs tonight.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By An­to­nio Fins Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

The way famed au­thor and jour­nal­ist Bob Wood­ward tells it, the ti­tle of his lat­est book, “Fear,” a be­hind-the-scenes look at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s White House, came from a March 2016 in­ter­view with the part-time Palm Beach bil­lion­aire when he was a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

“The ti­tle comes from Trump him­self,” said Wood­ward, who be­came a jour­nal­ism le­gend, along with Carl Bern­stein, for their investigative sto­ries on the Nixon Water­gate scan­dal for the Wash­ing­ton Post. “It is from him, a de­scrip­tion on how to use power. Scare the hell out of peo­ple.”

Wood­ward will speak about the best-seller, which last month be­came the lat­est tell-all book to rock the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, tonight at the Coral Springs Cen­ter for the Arts. His talk, in­clud­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion, be­gins at 7 p.m.

Wood­ward’s 357-page book is a riv­et­ing ac­count of the ri­val­ries and rag­ing dis­putes in the Trump White House. Af­ter “Fear” hit book­shelves in Septem­ber, the book was im­me­di­ately crit­i­cized by Trump, who tweeted that “Fear” was full of “many lies and phony sources.” It also was crit­i­cized by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and De­fense Se­cre-

tary James Mat­tis, among oth­ers in the Trump po­lit­i­cal or­bit.

How­ever, in “Fear,” Wood­ward re­con­structs en­tire con­ver­sa­tions among ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, many of which point to the same kind of dys­func­tion de­picted in pre­vi­ous books that have come out this year, in­clud­ing Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury.”

A num­ber of key in­stances in the book take place dur­ing Trump’s high-pro­file vis­its to his South­ern White House, Mar-a-Lago. The pres­i­dent’s pri­vate Palm Beach club is the scene for both high-stakes drama and light­hearted anec­dotes.

In par­tic­u­lar, it was dur­ing a stay at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017 that Trump gath­ered his na­tional se­cu­rity team and or­dered the launch of a 60-mis­sile at­tack on Syria in re­tal­i­a­tion for a sarin gas at­tack on rebels and civil­ians in that war-torn county. That was the most se­ri­ous mil­i­tary en­gage­ment — so far — in his pres­i­dency. But it’s also at Mar-a-Lago where gruff White House po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Steve Ban­non tells Trump to lighten up by go­ing to play “some slap and tickle” with first lady Me­la­nia Trump.

De­spite the push­back from Trump world, Wood­ward in­sists “Fear” is even­handed.

“My find­ings are those of a re­porter. There is no par­ti­san an­gle on this,” he said. “I think you see on the range of is­sues, for­eign pol­icy and eco­nomic pol­icy, that he is tak­ing a gam­ble.”

For the Coral Springs cen­ter, book­ing Wood­ward is a “coup,” said gen­eral man­ager Bill Haggett. He noted Wood­ward, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes and has au­thored 18 books, is the type of pub­lic fig­ure who usu­ally is sched­uled at bet­ter-known lo­ca­tions such as the Broward Cen­ter for the Arts in Fort Laud­erdale.

“I re­ally thought it would be a coup for our small the­ater,” Haggett said. “Pulitzer Prize-win­ning au­thors usu­ally go to the Broward Cen­ter.”

But, would book­ing Wood­ward and a book that’s been crit­i­cized by con­ser­va­tive au­di­ences put the cen­ter in a po­lit­i­cal vor­tex? Haggett said it would not.

“We’re non-par­ti­san,” said Hagget. “If it’s some­thing the com­mu­nity wants to see, we’ll bring it here. In the case of Bob Wood­ward, he is an ac­com­plished au­thor.”

Haggett points out that al­most two years ago, the cen­ter booked teen singer Jackie Evan­cho af­ter she lost con­cert dates be­cause she agreed to sing at Pres­i­dent Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Be­sides, Haggett added, there will be a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion. Those who may dis­agree with Wood­ward’s con­clu­sions will “be able to ask the hard ques­tions,” he said.

Plus, the proof has been in the com­mu­nity’s re­sponse. The Wood­ward ap­pear­ance has al­ready sold enough tick­ets to jus­tify hold­ing his talk in the Coral Springs cen­ter’s largest au­di­to­rium, which seats 1,500 peo­ple.

Wood­ward said the is­sue is not po­lit­i­cal sides and al­le­giances, but an in­formed pop­u­la­tion and elec­torate. “The premise of our busi­ness is that peo­ple should know what’s go­ing (on),” he said.

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