Bob Woodward is quick to dismiss the hypothetical notion that the Internet could have played a role in the reporting of the Watergate scandal that transformed Woodward and Carl Bernstein into household names. "I'm not a fan of Facebook or Twitter," says the 70-year-old journalist during a call from Washington, D.C. "I think we need to get away from the psychodrama of the Internet." Woodward, who has won Pulitzer Prizes for his Washington Post coverage of Watergate and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is more interested in social policies than social media. His latest book, The Price of Politics, details President Barack Obama's fiscal faceoff with congressional Republicans. We got the inside scoop from Woodward, who addresses Washington policymaking April 7 at the Ohio Theatre as part of the Town Hall of Cleveland series.
Q. What did you learn during your 18-month research for this book?
A. I concluded in the end that both sides are responsible for the non-functioning [of the government]. But Obama is the CEO, and it's his job to lead. When I interviewed Obama, we talked about entitlements and entitlement reform. He's not running again, so he has an opportunity to address this. You can criticize Reagan and Clinton on lots of fronts, but they found a way to work their will.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing the country at this point?
A. Unemployment is the key to people's lives. One of the greatest injustices in this country is the fact that people who really want jobs can't find them.
Q. How would you describe your reporting style?
A. Tough but rigorously nonpartisan. I have the luxury of time, and I have great assistants who help me. I have found that the most potent words in journalism are "I need your help."
Q. What are your thoughts on the fact that many pundits have already awarded the next presidential election to Hillary Clinton?
A. There's too much work by spinners and fundraisers. In 1974, two years before the election, who would have put Jimmy Carter on a list for president? Who would have put Clinton or Obama on a list? People are already asking, "Don't I get a vote?"
Q. Does politics take a toll on those involved in it?
A. I was once traveling with John McCain during his primary battles with [George W.] Bush. ... There was an openness we don't have now. He said something that really struck me: "Can you be true to yourself and still run for president?" He didn't have an answer to that. The last time I spoke with him I asked him that same question, and he still doesn't fully know the answer.