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Interview With Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein

Aired August 9, 2004 - 21:00   ET


RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon tomorrow.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, 30 years to the day after Richard Nixon became the first United States president ever to resign from office, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They broke the story that brought him down. Watergate, the biggest political scandal in U.S. history, and the scoop that turned them into living legends. Woodward and Bernstein for the hour, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thirty years ago today, August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from office. With us in Washington, D.C. is Bob Woodward. In Milan, Italy is Carl Bernstein. They both earned Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of Watergate scandal for "The Washington Post." They are the co-authors of historic best-sellers "All the President's Men," and "The Final Days." Woodward is editor and reporter at "The Washington Post," and is the author of the latest "New York Times" best-seller, "Plan of Attack."

Bernstein is completing a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton that will be published next year, and he's a contributing editor of "Vanity Fair." Bernstein is in Milan, Italy. Why are you in Milan, Italy, Carl?

CARL BERNSTEIN, VANITY FAIR: They have very good parking garages here. I'm in a parking garage in Milan, and I'm going to move the flower pots soon.

KING: To relive Deep Throat.

BERNSTEIN: No, I'm on vacation.

KING: Good to have you with us. Bob, how did you...

BERNSTEIN: It's good to be here.

KING: How did the two of you first come on this story? Give me the genesis.

BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: The burglary took place at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was a glorious day, and the editors, when they came in and saw, and they thought it was a local burglary. I think one of the questions they asked was, who would be dumb enough to come in on this wonderful day to work on what looked like somewhat of a routine story? So they called me, and Carl was working that Saturday anyway, and I think what really brought us together -- there were eight people who worked on the first Watergate story at "The Post," but the next day was Sunday, and two people came in that day, Carl and myself.

We were both unmarried. I was -- I had just been at "The Post" nine months, but Carl sniffed that this was really a big story. I did not see it initially.

KING: Carl, what did you...

BERNSTEIN: We also on that Sunday -- we also on that Sunday got beat for the first time. We came in, we went back and looked at the wires, and the AP had beaten us in identifying James McCord, one of the supervisors of the burglary, as having worked for the CIA.

KING: Carl, what did you sense that told you this could be big?

BERNSTEIN: Well, in the first place, I made a bunch of calls right after I came in that morning, because Bob had phoned in the identity of the burglars from the courthouse. And I made some quick calls down to Florida, because five of them were from Florida, and quickly found out that they had CIA connections. And all of them had done some work for the CIA. And I guess my initial thought was that this might have something to do with the CIA. I think the last thing in my mind was that it would go to the White House.

KING: The likelihood of two hard-working journalists being played on the big screen by two of Hollywood's hottest stars actually happened. Let's take a look at a clip from "All the President's Men."


DUSTIN HOFFMAN, ACTOR: I think mine's better, but you go ahead and read it. If you think yours is better, we'll give yours to the desk. I've got Colson's name up front. He's a White House consultant and nobody knows it.

ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: All right. Yours is better.

If you're going to do it, do it right. Here are my notes. If you're going to hype it, hype it with the facts. I don't mind what you did. I mind the way you did it.


KING: Bob, did this story build? Did it take off? Did it snowball?

WOODWARD: No. It was very incremental. I think in the end, Carl and I did hundreds of stories. There were big turning point moments in it. I think Carl was mentioning Florida. About a month and a half after the burglary, he tracked down some checks that had been laundered through the Nixon campaign, and it turned out that, in fact, campaign money had gone to the burglars, and it was in a very convoluted way. But it really tied the Nixon reelection campaign and at least $114,000 to the burglars. And I remember, that was one of those moments where you said, and our editor at "The Post," the city editor said, we've never really had a story like this.

KING: How did you feel, Carl, when it started to grow and swell, when you two would be rapped every day by Ron Ziegler, the press secretary for Richard Nixon, saying this was all poppycock and nothing story, and you were building it up, and no other papers were really running with it? And how did that make you feel? Did you feel alone out there?

BERNSTEIN: We did feel alone. Happily, every once in awhile "Time" magazine or "The New York Times" would do a really good story, and both of those publications made some serious contributions to the reporting of Watergate.

But basically, almost every day the spokesman for the leader of the free world got up and attacked "The Washington Post," and attacked us. And I think that it served, perhaps, I hoped, give us some humility. Because it meant that we knew that we had to work that much harder, that we had to have our information nailed down. I think it gave us a kind of caution.

And also, because we knew that what we were writing was true, the fact that they went to such lengths to try to discredit us told us something about both their fear in the White House, and that this thing went farther than we had initially thought.

KING: Before we discuss Mr. Nixon himself...

BERNSTEIN: You know you mentioned...

KING: Bob, I'm sorry. Bob, hold on, I'll get right back to you, Carl. Sorry, go ahead, Carl. Finish what you were going to say.

BERNSTEIN: No, I was going to say, you know, that little clip from the movie reminded me of something. And that is that there's an awful lot of mythology about Bob, myself, "The Washington Post" and Watergate. And when you see that movie, the great thing about it is, it's not really about Bob and me and our individual characters. It's really about the process of reporting. And nothing exotic about it. A very basic kind of methodical reporting, and with a couple of young guys who did their work, and also had a great institution that let them do the work, and went out on a limb for them.

KING: We're seeing a scene where you meet with Deep Throat, Robert Redford playing Carl -- playing Bob Woodward. Bob, you've never revealed the name. You're not going to of course reveal it tonight. You said you will reveal it when he or she dies. They must be getting up in years. Can you tell us that? Are they at an age where you might check the obits?

WOODWARD: Carl and I are getting up in years, too.

BERNSTEIN: That's right. WOODWARD: We will tell that story, and it's a -- it's kind of one of the last missing pieces of the puzzle. And I think once people see who it is and exactly what happened, will understand why the super secrecy and the confidentiality, and why it was not revealed for such a long time.

Carl makes an important point about the backing of "The Washington Post." They had just gone public with their stock. It was a time when the stock sunk because the Nixon people and Nixon friends filed challenges to the TV licenses that "The Washington Post" company had. And quite frankly, when Ziegler denounced us regularly, it was a little frightening. We knew we -- or we believed we were on solid ground. But it was so savage, and it was said with such absolute conviction. And as the book and the movie show, we made some mistakes, and when we made those mistakes we kind of thought our careers in the newspaper business were over. And that was a true feeling at those moments.

KING: We'll take a break. As we go to break, by the way, Fred LaRue passed away last week, and since no announcement was made, obviously he was not Deep Throat. He was a special assistant to John Mitchell. He died at the age of 75 of natural causes. Another one of those passing figures in the night.

As we go to break, a famous moment in the days of Richard Nixon.


NIXON: Let me just say this, and I want to say this to the television audience. I made my mistakes. But in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service. I've earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination. Because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.

Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.




NIXON: I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in. I neither took part in, nor knew about any of the subsequent cover-up activities.


KING: It's the 30th anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon. We're with Woodward and Bernstein, the two most famous co- journalists in the world. Carl Bernstein, what about Nixon the man? What's your read on him? What's your -- how did this happen? BERNSTEIN: I think we know as a result partly of some of the reporting we did for "The Final Days," and during Watergate, and the tapes that have come forth since Watergate, that really Richard Nixon was singularly unsuited psychologically for the presidency. He probably is the only, or one of the only presidents of whom that can be said.

He didn't trust the fact that he had been elected. He acted as if he had enemies all around him who were ready to question his legitimacy. It led him to undertake terrible, both criminal acts and acts against the Constitution of the United States, that no president had ever undertaken. And he really had, as one person that we talked to, Arthur Burns, who was in Nixon's Council of Economic Advisers, said he had epithets for whole sections of mankind. He derided Jews, he derided blacks, he derided his political opponents. It was -- he couldn't believe that he was president, and bring forth the best in himself.

At the same time, he's capable of terrific thought. You see it in his writings. He could have been a good journalist, I think, if you look at what he wrote about de Gaulle, some of those profiles that he wrote. But as a president, really, was not suited.

KING: Bob Woodward, was he brilliant?

WOODWARD: Yes. In many, many ways. And you know, the brilliance is connected to the question of why did this happen. And part of the reason it happened is very simply, the best evidence is the tapes. We joke at "The Washington Post," we call those tapes -- because there is a new batch that comes out each season -- that it's the gift that keeps giving. And it keeps telling you about Nixon. And in it, as Carl says, there are the crimes and the abuse.

What strikes me is the smallness. What you never hear on the Nixon tapes, maybe we will, but you never hear anyone say what would be good, what would be right. It's all about Nixon. It's all about using...

BERNSTEIN: Right. Nothing about the majesty of the office.

WOODWARD: And nothing about...


WOODWARD: ... gee, we have a responsibility to the country here. Nixon used the office to settle political scores.

At the same time, the day he resigned, he gave that famous farewell speech without a script. And he said something that I think is the most important thing that Nixon said, and that is, literally, he said, always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.

Now, that is brilliant. Hate is what destroyed him. On the day he had to give up the office, he realized that. He couldn't call it back. He had to give up the office. But the piston driving the Nixon presidency was this hate, which, as Carl was saying, was totally unnecessary.

KING: Carl, when a man is elected president, any president, there has to be a likability, and the picture we're painting, and I interviewed him quite a few times, was of not of likability. That he didn't like people. He was not a -- he loved politics, but he wasn't a political animal. He didn't like crowds. What do you make of that?

BERNSTEIN: I think he found it very -- I think he found it very difficult to be close to people. Now mind you, Bob and myself never spent a lot of time with Richard Nixon. So -- and certainly he felt close in some ways to members of his family. But he obviously was somebody who put great distance between himself, found it difficult to give affection, to receive affection.

Kissinger has written about it. You see it in Kissinger's own tapes. There are comments about it.

This was a strange man to be the president of the United States.

KING: But I know his daughters very well, Bob. And they worshipped him.

WOODWARD: And they should. And he was their father. And they were, in many ways, the best fans he had. And clearly he connected to them emotionally.

But Carl's right. There was a -- I suspect when you interviewed Nixon, didn't you feel a kind of distance?

KING: Sure.

WOODWARD: He certainly could be responsive and very, very smart, but there was always that stand-offish quality. And he had -- one of the other secrets to come out about Nixon some day are these dicta- belts, where he had a daily dictated diary, which were not given over to the Watergate investigators. And people who -- the few people who've listened to them have said that he poured out his soul. And it turned out that he really did hate meeting with people. He liked to be alone, or liked to be with his top aides, Haldeman and Ehrlichman.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll go to your calls in a while too. Thirty years ago today, the resignation of President Nixon.

Speaking of presidents, Thursday night on this program, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. Exclusive. Thursday night for the hour. We'll be right back.


NIXON: You are here to say goodbye to us. And we don't have a good word for it in English. The best is au revoir. We'll see you again.




KING: When you drive by those collections of buildings, the hotel, the two apartment houses, the office building, you feel weird, funny?

NIXON: Oh, no, I never give it a thought.

KING: Never give it a thought?

NIXON: Never give it a thought. That's one place where you just don't look back. As far as Watergate is concerned...

KING: In other words, you don't look up at the buildings themselves?

NIXON: Not at all. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I've never been in the Watergate. Never...

KING: Never been in the hotel?

NIXON: Never been in the hotel. Never been in the restaurant. I'm not one for going out that much anyway, as you know. And under the circumstances, though, I've never been there. I have many friends who live there, and they tell me it's very nice.


KING: Carl Bernstein, that was 1990, and Richard Nixon was reborn. He had written new books. He was -- he became friends with Mario Cuomo, the governor of New York. He helped out presidents. How did he do that? How did he come back?

BERNSTEIN: Well, look, you're talking about a man with considerable intellect and considerable experience, and great persistence. And at the same time, I think that the idea of this so- called comeback is exaggerated, in the sense that people know and knew what President Nixon did, how he disgraced himself, disgraced the office, what he had done to the country, what he had done to the Constitution. And at the same time, he did try to contribute after he left office. And you know -- his -- first of all, he was a great political analyst.

KING: The best.

BERNSTEIN: And his political analysis that reached some of his successors was on the mark, and I think they were grateful for it. He obviously had great experience in foreign affairs. Though his record in foreign affairs, it seems to me, was really ruined by his conduct of the war in Vietnam, and how long it took him to get out, and the circumstances under which we did get out.

KING: Bob, what do you think of his coming back?

WOODWARD: Well, if you take a great basketball player who comes back, the comeback includes playing basketball. For Nixon to come back, it would have to include some sort of political power. But they never gave him any political power, because the country, and particularly the Republican Party, made this very severe judgment on him, that he was a criminal. And that he should be impeached, and that he would have been ejected from office had he not resigned.

So it's a comeback in the sense of he did other things. And he did some of them well. But he never touched political power, even remotely. If he'd run for the city council in California in his hometown, Yorba Linda, you know, people would have said, now wait a minute, we're not giving him political power. So, it was a somewhat meaningless comeback in terms of him as a politician.

KING: But his counsel was respected?

WOODWARD: Sure, absolutely.


WOODWARD: You know...

KING: It was.

BERNSTEIN: Go ahead.

WOODWARD: Sure. And it should be. And you know, I dug, as I sometimes have the habit of doing, some of the old things that are forgotten about Nixon. But when he had to fire his two top aides, Haldeman and Ehrlichman, he called Elliot Richardson up to Camp David. They were going to make Richardson the attorney general who was going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Watergate. And this is much forgotten. But one of the things that Nixon said to Elliot Richardson was, "you must pursue this investigation, even if it leads to the president. If need be, save the presidency from the president." And Richardson wrote on his legal pad, paraphrasing Nixon, "if the monster is me, save the country."

So in many ways, as Carl and I found, Nixon unleashed this investigation on him. He kept the tapes. He released transcripts. He was always doing things that led to the truth. And of course, the truth is what unseated him.

KING: Carl, his death, the funeral was a very solemn ceremony, attended by all the living presidents. With a very emotional speech by Bob Dole, who cried at his funeral. Said a lot.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. There were strong -- look, people cried when he left office, the people who worked for him. This is somebody who had a great role in the lives of many politicians, and who gave them great opportunities, and I can understand how some people were emotional about him.

But, you know, I think the record is there. One of the things that interests me the most is that I think we're at the point now historically that we have a pretty good idea of what happened in the Nixon presidency, historically. And we keep getting more tapes, and we will.

I think that the time finally is here for something I've never engaged in myself, but perhaps it's time for some real psychobiography. It's really time for some psychological analysis, if it can be fact-based. If it can be related to some of the things such as Bob just mentioned, with the Richardson moment.

Because there are patterns in the man's behavior, in his utterances, in his history, that are just fascinating. You know, Nixon was a part of our national life in a major way longer than any figure in our modern history, for 50 years. He was a dominant figure, going back to the Hiss case, in our politics.

KING: I'm going to get a break, guys.

BERNSTEIN: It's extraordinary.

KING: I'm going to get a break. When we come back, I'll ask Bob Woodward if Watergate could ever happen again. And we'll be taking your calls.

President Bush will be with us with his wife Laura on Thursday night. Tomorrow night, the Scott Peterson matter gets hot and heavy when Amber Frey testifies. And we'll be discussing that.

And we'll be right back with Woodward and Bernstein. Co-paired, the two most famous names in American journalism. We'll be right back.


KING: Did you hate the people who criticized you? You know, the image was presented that you were a hater of the main order. Did you hate Dan Rather when he stood up?

NIXON: Oh, no, no. As far as Dan Rather and my other critics in the media, and I have a number of them -- I have a number of friends, as well, as I pointed out in my book, as you note. I realize that their attitude toward me was due to the fact that they simply disagreed with me. I was a conservative. They were liberals.

KING: But did you take it that way personally?

NIXON: No, I did not take it personally.



NIXON: The fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the president and the Congress, in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office. KING: Whew. Wow, 30 years. Bob Woodward, could that happen again?

WOODWARD: Well, first of all, in coming in here tonight, I looked at your security system, and you have somebody watching all of the elevators and corridors on a camera. And if there had been that security system in the Watergate office building, during the burglary, the burglary would have failed. And in fact, they might not even have contemplated doing it, because security is so high now.

Now, the question of could it lead to the president and the president's resignation? You don't know. And that's why we keep working on these questions of who are -- who holds this office? It is the most monumental concentration of power in the world. And the whole system is one of accountability. You mentioning that you're going to have President Bush on, on Thursday night. Is that right?

KING: Yes.

WOODWARD: When I did the book on the Iraq war decision-making, "Plan of Attack," at the end I asked him, how do you -- what's history's judgment going to be about the Iraq war? And he took his hands out of his pocket and say, "history," as if it's far off, and said, "we won't know. We'll all be dead." And the judgment of history on all of these things is quite elusive.

KING: Is the judgment of history...

BERNSTEIN: I must say, I find that answer -- I find that answer from President Bush almost as unfathomable as anything Richard Nixon ever said.

WOODWARD: Well, on one level, he's ducking, you know, what do you really think?

BERNSTEIN: Ducks, yes.

WOODWARD: But on the other hand, we know from history that things 10, 15, 50 years later get looked at very differently. Harry Truman...

BERNSTEIN: Very true, yes.

WOODWARD: ... in his time was thought to be somebody barely presidential. And David McCullough comes along and does this massive history on him, and now we look at Truman as one of the great presidents.

KING: Carl, before I take our first call, history has written the story on Nixon, or might that change as more tapes come out?

BERNSTEIN: I think there will be additions to the record. And again, I hope some of those additions will shed more psychological light. I think we know the basics about the presidency. And it's not a very pretty picture.

KING: Washington, D.C., for Woodward and Bernstein, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. How are you doing?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: I was wondering if Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein could comment on maybe the differences between political reporting now, and in the Watergate days. And if they think there are any differences in quality.

KING: Excellent question. We'll start with Bob.

WOODWARD: Some of it is better. And some of it is not as good. It's very difficult, and this is one of the points that Carl has made over the years, which I really agree with, that the people in the government, particularly in the White House, have become masterful at learning how the media operates, how to feed the media. And they, in a sense, know our business better than we know it. So it's much more difficult to get information. And the Bush White House is very, very secretive, as everyone has said. "The Washington Post" will give me up to a year to try to figure out how and why we went to war in Iraq. And if you can assemble the information and talk to enough people -- in that case, the president answered questions for three and a half hours, which no sitting president has ever done.

KING: Carl Bernstein, is it different today? You've got 24-hour news networks. How would Watergate have been covered today? Once you started on the story, we'd have been running with it, right?

BERNSTEIN: I think it would have been covered with a lot of talking heads screaming at each other on 24-hour news channels, about what it means and what happened, and, in fact, they wouldn't have many facts.

I think one of the terrible things that has happened in the years since Watergate is that the agenda of too much of the press has changed, that it's taken on a role of manufactured controversy, of gossips, sensationalism. And that there are not many news institutions left that are willing to expend the effort and money on the kind of hard, slogging reporting that we need. "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," "L.A. Times," perhaps, are very much the exception.

And also that you have a conglomeration of media, concentration of media, particularly in broadcast. The three major networks.

So that the best -- you know, I think Bob and I -- I think Bob first used this phrase, that real reporting is the best obtainable version of the truth. And when I grew up in the newspaper business, that was really the bottom line I think at most newspapers. I'm not sure that's the case anymore. I think that we've got too much of a different agenda.

KING: Rockford, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: If -- I've got a question. If Nixon had not resigned and been impeached, does the panel think that there would have been enough votes in Congress to have removed him from office?

KING: Bob?

WOODWARD: Quite definitely. In fact, a couple of days before Nixon actually resigned, Barry Goldwater and the Republican leaders went to see Nixon, and Nixon asked, "how many votes do you think I might have in a Senate trial out of 100?" And I think he speculated 16 or 17. And Goldwater said he had only four votes, four sure votes. So, that would be 96 to four, if Goldwater was a good vote counter, and indeed he was. So I think Nixon would have been removed from office by the Senate.

KING: Chesapeake, Virginia, hello.


KING: I'm sorry, go ahead, Carl.

BERNSTEIN: Well, you know, in the tape that you just showed where Nixon was talking about that the country would be occupied, and the Congress would be occupied, that was disingenuous. The fact is he knew that he was going to be convicted by the Senate of the United States if he tried to fight it out. And basically for the last week in office he kept looking at the numbers, and finally decided he couldn't do it. That he couldn't prevail, and he left.

KING: Chesapeake, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I have a question for Mr. Woodward. John Dean has stated in his book that the invasion of Iraq and the deceptions involved was a worse scandal than Watergate. Since you have written about both, what is your take on that?

WOODWARD: I don't agree with John Dean. He was there. He was a participant in the crimes of Watergate. I think you can certainly have strenuous objection to the war in Iraq, and on moral grounds you can have a very serious objection to it, and oppose it. I don't think there is anything on that scale, and in the work I've done, I have not seen that there were crimes committed. Now, some people will look at a war and say, that is a crime in itself, particularly if it's an unnecessary war. My view as a reporter is that the jury is still out on that. We do not know whether this was a good war or a bad war, a necessary one or an unnecessary one.

KING: Want to comment, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Yes. This is one of these rare occasions where Bob and I disagree. That, first of all, I think that Watergate and this war and this president, Nixon and George Bush are apples and oranges. At the same time I think that this war was -- that we went into this war with some serious misrepresentations by the president of the United States. That the president of the United States, through the way he has conducted this war, has raised serious questions about his suitability for the presidency. But not on psychological grounds perhaps, so much in terms of really competence, and his ability to understand the world in a way that we expect the president to. That this war, in fact, I think the jury is in on a lot about this war, and that it has disastrous consequences for this country.

KING: We'll -- we'll take a break and be back with more calls for Woodward and Bernstein on the 30th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Milhous Nixon. Don't go away.


GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.




FORD: I, Gerald R. Ford, president of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by article 2, section 2 of the constitution, have granted and by these presence do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed, or taken part in during the period from July 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.


KING: Statement that may have cost President Ford the presidency.

San Diego, as we go to calls again for Woodward and Bernstein. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. The other evening we watched a 30 year anniversary about Watergate on KPBS. And Richard Nixon was in the Rose Garden with Henry Kissinger, and Richard Nixon said why don't we dump Rumsfeld, he gives me the creeps. And Nixon said, yes, I think we should, he's a blankety blank.

What do you think of that?

KING: Mr. Woodward?

WOODWARD: Well, I'm not sure that's exactly right, but that's possible. And as Carl was saying, Nixon would say things about any group or any individual behind their back. It was kind of a game. And Kissinger would do the same thing, too.


KING: You want to say something, Carl?


BERNSTEIN: I was just going to say Kissinger liked to feed Nixon and his tendency to unload on people. I think Kissinger enjoyed it.

KING: How do you think, Carl, Kissinger put up with the anti- Semitic remarks?

BERNSTEIN: I think he didn't take them seriously, that's what he says. And I think that he, too, knew Nixon had epithets for whole sections of mankind. At the same time I think there are other people who were Jewish, who were in that administration, who came to believe that he was anti-Semitic, despite his strong support for the state of Israel, in a way that he stereotyped Jews.

KING: Shawnee, Kansas, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. First of all I want to compliment Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein for a fine piece of investigative reporting during the time. And even though I think that President Nixon was one of the most effective and one of the best presidents we've had in years, my question is this, where is the press today?

Where is the media today?

And why aren't they subjecting the current administration to the same type of scrutiny in regards to the weekly reports we get of mishandling, misinformation, incompetency, and downright lies coming from the various intelligence agencies?

KING: Bob, does this press go light on its president?

WOODWARD: You know, some have argued that. I think -- I think certainly in the last year that is not the case. That, in fact, anything the White House does gets questioned and scrutinized, and it should. But you know, there's this -- we are by nature, particularly with the advent of CNN and cable television, everyone's impatient.

Tell us everything. Explain it. When Carl and I, 30-years-ago, plus, worked on Watergate we could draft a story and hand it in. The editors would look at it, and ask questions and send us off on reporting errands. And we could wait two or three weeks before we got that story nailed down. Now, even at "The Washington Post," as good and patient as the editors are, if you get what looks like a good story, they'll be in your office and say, can we get it on the Web site by noon.

If you are going to have this impatience, and everyone chasing the latest little incremental development in something that's occurring, you're not going to get what the late Katherine Graham (ph) always told us, you know, it's your job. When we would say, we can't get to the bottom of Watergate or it's going to be hard because there's a criminal conspiracy going on, she'd say -- and we'd say, never are you going to know the whole truth. She'd say, don't tell me never. Mobilize. BERNSTEIN: I think that -- I think that your question, sir, indicates how well the press has done during the Bush presidency. Because, what you're indicating is that there is widespread knowledge of this president's lies, when they have been lies or disingenuousness, when it's been just disingenuousness, in his inability to make some of these connections between the difference between a war on terror and the connection with Saddam Hussein. I think that the press has put the evidence out there. That too often the press is being blamed for the failure of perhaps Republicans in Congress, not to question their president more closely about what he's doing, that also the electorate, perhaps, ought to be held more accountable. I think the press has put the facts out there pretty well, especially look at Bob's book.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with our remaining moments. Get a couple more calls in. President Bush will be with us, and Laura Bush, on Thursday night. Don't go away.



SEN. HOWARD BAKER (R), TENNESSEE: The question at this point is simply put, what did the president know and when did he know it?


KING: Boy, one of the most famous questions ever asked in a hearing. Studio City, California, hello.

CALLER: Good evening. And it's an honor to talk to both of you gentlemen.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: I would like to know, like the Martha Stewart case, it was the cover-up that killed him. If he had stepped up to the plate early on and maybe Haldeman or Ehrlichman had been the sacrificial lamb to throw on the sword, and said yes, CREEP was involved, we're investigating, we're getting rid of the people who did it, would that have stopped the story then and there? Or did you already know too much not to go forward?

KING: Bob, could he have shut it off?

WOODWARD: I don't think he could have shut it off. But I think if he'd kind of stepped up to the plate and assumed responsibility, like Jack Kennedy did for the Bay of Pigs, and been contrite and said, things got off track, I knew about some of it, I should have been more aggressive, and the people who did this are gone.

But one of the themes in all of Nixon's Watergate defense was, I didn't do it. I didn't know. I was not responsible. This was other people doing things.

KING: So the cover-up, then, you're saying, Bob, the cover-up was bigger than the crime.

WOODWARD: Oh, clearly. And, in fact, in fairness to Nixon, there's no really strong evidence that he knew about the Watergate burglary in advance. Carl and I think he might have, but we don't have evidence of that.

KING: Brentwood, California, last call. Hello.

BERNSTEIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) constitutional crimes, as well.

KING: Brentwood, hello.

CALLER: How Nixon was, I mean at his presidency, that's when the Chinese and the Russians were allies. The Chinese idolized Nixon, even after he resigned. I honestly think that if it wasn't for Nixon, we'd be a communist country now, because he stopped them from being allies. China and Russia were allies. I...

KING: Well, he gets a lot of credit -- we're almost out of time -- but he gets a lot of credit in that area, does he not, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. I think that is his one great contribution, is his recognizing China and driving a wedge between the Soviet Union and China. But the rest of the equation that the gentlemen just posited seems to me to be quite extreme.

KING: Thank you both very much for an illuminating hour. A reflective look back from two of the truly great journalists of our time. Thank you both very much.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.

KING: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, both Pulitzer Prize winners. Woodward's new book is "Plan of Attack," a major best-seller ever since it was published. And Carl Bernstein is writing a book that will be out next year on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That's tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And I'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about tomorrow night, and of course concentrate on what's coming Thursday night. Don't go away.


KING: Well, the Scott Peterson case really gets hot and heavy tomorrow because Amber Frey, the famed mistress, will testify. You can bet your bottom dollar we're going to do a show on that tomorrow night.

Thursday night, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush together, exclusive for the hour.

Right now, he's exclusive every night. In fact, we ought to flash it every night when "NEWSNIGHT" is on, exclusive, exclusive, because it can't be seen anywhere else. He's my man, Aaron Brown. It's good to be back, good to see Aaron. Go get'em, Mr. B.


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