Donald Trump, Bob Woodward, and the Noble Lie

The Reason Roundtable reads Bob Woodward, goes to the Oscars, weighs in on the NFL, and more.


What did Donald Trump know, and when did he know it? According to Bob Woodward's new book, Rage, and the interview tapes the veteran reporter released last week, the president acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus in private interviews much earlier than he did public. Are there times when presidents should tell what they perceive as noble lies to forestall panic? Or, as Woodward suggests, do those obfuscations simply prevent Americans from rallying around and solving serious problems together?

Regular Reason Roundtable podcasters Nick Gillespie and Katherine Mangu-Ward are joined by special guests Eric Boehm and Zach Weissmueller for a 20th-century-flashback episode to discuss whether epidemiology is politics, whether movies are politics, whether sports are politics, and whether all of those things have always been politics.

Plus Gillespie gets ratioed, Mangu-Ward gets literary, Weissmueller gets serious, and Boehm gets emo in their pop culture recommendations.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: "Drizzle to Downpour" by Silent Partner and "Hide the Horror" by Asthmatic Astronaut.

Relevant links from the show:

Bob Woodward on 60 Minutes

"Review: Coup 53," by Eric Boehm

"How China Corrupted the World Health Organization's Response to COVID-19," by Zach Weissmueller

"The NFL Is Back. So Is the National Anthem Controversy. And Now There Are Two Anthems," by Eric Boehm

What are we consuming this week?

Katherine Mangu-Ward

Nick Gillespie

Zach Weissmueller

NEXT: Ronald Bailey: The World Is Getting Cleaner, Richer, and Safer

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  1. Nobody gave a fuck when Trump said the same damn thing in a press conference months ago.

    1. And I doubt this election timed tome is going to have any more influence that a fart in a windstorm. As you said, nobody gives a fuck, given the dire choices we have.

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    2. Do you have a link supporting your claim?

      1. Are you hoping there’s no link supporting his claim?

        Please, nobody provide one until this dishonest piece of shit answers my question.

        1. Sorry. I’ve been calling put this ignorant shill all day. He still thinks he has no side.

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      2. Is your ignorance a source of pride?

        I know I know. You’ll come back and say it wasn’t word for word exact.

    3. That wasn’t close enough to the election to make a stink over it and expect the pinhead voters to still remember it come November.

    4. I’m glad she acknowledged the monstrous premise of this otherwise good comedy. A couple breaks up, so they decide to divide up their infant twins — so each girl will never see the other parent, her sister, or any of her other relatives again? Or even know she has a sister? Just as in the original version of this movie, the real villains are clearly both parents……..Only Read More

  2. Will they be discussing why Reason keeps pimping marxist, totalitarian lies?

    1. The definition of “Marxist” used by Nardz is “anyone that dares to criticize the President.”

      1. No, you ignorant little piece of insignificant refuse, I’ve given the definition of Marxist plenty of times.

        Marxism is an ideology that defines people not as individuals but as units of identity classes based on various characteristics, often arbitrary or superficial (income, race, heritage, etc); and these identity classes are engaged in perpetual warfare with each other, contesting control of resources and rights.

        I get that you’re incapable of much beyond emoting, but you should learn how to make your pathetic appeals for leftist approval in ways less likely to motivate others to humiliate you.

        Now go off by yourself and cry like a bitch, eunuch

        1. According to that definition, you are a Marxist.

          1. You really don’t have the intellect for this game

          2. You’re gonna have to jump back to your sock at this rate

        2. “defines people not as individuals but as units of identity classes”

          Like, for example, John saying that the protestors outside the hospital are Black Lives Matter? Because, I guess, the video shows that they have black skin.

          Over the past few weeks, I have repeatedly pointed out where commenters here have linked to videos or stories that say “BLM protestors” or “BLM rioters” did bad thing X. The precise point I am trying to make is that guilt by association is bad because it “defines people not as individuals but as units of identity classes based on various characteristics, often arbitrary or superficial”.

        3. Not even Marx would recognize that “definition” of Marxism.

          The ultimate goal of Marxism is to produce a classless society. Where there are no identity classes of any kind.

          You’re spouting off grievances and calling that “Marxism”.

      2. The definition of “nazi” used by Chipper is everyone to the right of Pol Pot.

  3. Good grief. FDR is well-documented at saying different things to different people about the New Deal, about Hoover, about everything, and this is the worst Woodward can dig up on Trump? And some publisher thinks it worthy of a book? No doubt TDS victims will but a boatload of them.

    1. Anyone remember HRC’s “public” vs. “private” opinions following the secret Wall Street speech?

      1. Exactly. You don’t even have to go deep into the memory hole to recall this one.

    2. Yeah, I am more concerned about Trump claiming he deserves a third term and about Roger Stone saying that Trump should seize the ballots in Nevada and declare martial law if he doesn’t win.

      1. I’m more concerned that Biden is expanding his legal team in preparation to challenge Trump winning.

        1. You don’t think Trump is doing the same thing if Biden wins? Seriously?

      2. You should be more concerned about your STDs you faggot.

      3. I’m more concerned about Chipper and his Media Matters masters, pushing outright fabrications and lies in corporate media outlets.
        I’m also concerned about the fact that the Washington establishment and the American clerisy seem to be gearing up for another coup attempt.

      4. I’m more concerned that anyone gives two shits what Roger Stone has to say about anything.

      5. ” I am more concerned about Trump claiming he deserves a third term ”

        Yes that would make sense as you autistics often misunderstand euphemistic speech.

      6. and your concern of Hillary telling Joe to not concede or the Atlantic ensuring more chaos and disorder from leftist protests if biden loses?

    3. Unfortunately there are enough people who will buy into any lie and Woodward is out for the money. During the years since Woodward’s book on Nixon I cannot remember that he ever written a book on any democrat president or other political person. So I see this is just another Leftist who is doing his damnist to prevent President Trump from winning a second term. But I think that he and the rest of the Democrat propaganda machine a lot to explain for their failure after the polls all indicated for the second time have predicted victory and instead delivered only defeat. But I don’t thing the democrats are going to let it go so they will challenge it in every court that they can hoping that the winner will not be declared until after Jan 20 2021 hoping also that the democrats will have the house so that Pelosi will be able to assume the presidency. If that happens the vote will not matter the democrat Biden will be declared the winner. Then shortly after Biden assumes office for some reason he will be replaced Kamala Harris. That is the only way that the way dems will get an African-american woman as president. As everybody knows that K Harris could not win even one state in her attempt to become the democrat nominee.

      1. he wrote one on Obama that was pretty against him for ACA.

  4. “The president acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus in private interviews much earlier than he did public. Are there times when presidents should tell what they perceive as noble lies to forestall panic?”

    This story is over. It never even started.

    Why not go after President Trump for his immigration policies or his trade war with China?

    The Democrats aren’t attacking him on those issues–probably because they think those are losing issues in the face of the pandemic and the recession. Libertarians don’t need to worry about that. There’s no need to take our cues from CNN, network news, and the Democratic party. If you absolutely need to go after President Trump for something, go after him for what the rest of them aren’t talking about.

    And going after him for whether he downplayed the severity of the pandemic is a non-starter. It has no traction. It is an-ex story.

    1. It is an-ex story.

      Well, it’s…it’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

  5. Oh, and if the Roundtable would get Jesse Walker on the horn and ask him to write something up about the “conspiracy theories” in regards to anti-fa and the wildfires in the Pacific northwest, I suspect lots of people would like to read about that.

    Regardless of whether the stories about anti-fa setting wildfires are true, they’re probably telling us something true about the mindset of voters as we approach the upcoming election. There are a substantial number of people in this country who believe that the left-wing activists are burning whole communities down–and the news media is covering it up.

    Whether they’re right may be beside the point.

    1. If Jesse Walker hasn’t written a piece about the manufactured delusion of “Russian interference/collusion” then he’s no more than a poser or propagandist

    2. Whether they’re right may be beside the point.

      So Ken finally gets around to the “fake but accurate” defense.

  6. So, Woodward et al want Trump to have said that ‘we’re all gonna die’ or something. What do these people suppose would happen if the grocery store employees and truck drivers decided to stay home out of fear as well as the journalists? They probably can’t imagine a world where they can’t just get whatever they want when they want it.
    What if the power plant workers decided to hole up with their families?

  7. >>Or, as Woodward suggests, do those obfuscations simply

    reflect the same line of thinking about when a book is released?

  8. What did Bob Woodward know and when did he know it? If it wasn’t important enough to mention at the time, I don’t see why it’s important enough to mention now, except that in hindsight you see that it was important. It’s a form of Monday morning quarterbacking, hindsight being 20/20 and all.

    I saw somebody defending their attacking Trump on the issue of not being panicky enough while defending the people who were attacking Trump for being too panicky by pointing out that Trump had more information than his critics did. But surely his critics knew they didn’t have as much information as Trump had, didn’t they? And surely they realize right now that they have less information than Trump does, right? Maybe you should hold up on the criticism a little bit until you’re sure you have as much information about the situation as the person you’re criticizing.

    Which reminds me of Obama, back when he was first running, criticizing George Bush’s handling of the war on terror and when George Bush suggested that, as President, he might know a thing or two that Obama didn’t, Obama sneered at this idea by saying that as a Senator he received the same intelligence briefings as the President. Later, after becoming President, Obama’s ideas about the war on terror “evolved” and he acknowledged that, as President, he had learned a few things he didn’t know before. Yet he didn’t apologize to George Bush for that crack about knowing just as much as the President.

    1. It still wasn’t important at the time. When those comments were made the models were still projecting 2 million Americans dead and a CFR OF over 1%. The numbers were revised down by the CDC in late March to 200k.

      Trump was right not to panic people who were panic buying TP, milk, ammo, etc.

      This was also when Cuomo was begging for 100k ventilators when he maxed at 10k.

  9. Reason libertarians looooooooooove to defend Cuties.

    1. Trump managed to get his political and media opponents to defend pedophilia a month and a half before the election.
      9D chess indeed.

      1. Did he even get them to, or did they just do it on their own?

        1. Yea, I don’t know that we can give Trump credit for that one.
          The Q anons, on the other hand…

          1. Well he did support that Congressman that supposedly supported Q. So 9th D chess later, I guess he did!

          2. You all seem awfully obsessed with talking about this movie.

            You know what they always said about conservative crusaders obsessed with homosexuality. They are inevitably found in a hotel room with a male hooker.

  10. The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, “See if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk”. ~ Harry Browne

    Trump’s lies about and failures to fight the C-19 pandemic, always followed by his diametrically opposed to fact brags and demands for gratitude, have proven Browne’s point even more clearly than any one in government has ever before. Trump is the embodiment of all of the worst of government.

    1. Trump is the embodiment of all of the worst of government.

      Putin, Trump and his little mini-me Kim.

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