Woodward book reveals key coronavirus details just weeks before election

Rage has renewed COVID-19 as a key factor in the election.

The cover page of Rage, which has brought up multiple controversies about Trump, Woodward, and the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster

The cover page of Rage, which has brought up multiple controversies about Trump, Woodward, and the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Collin Fan

On Tuesday, September 15th, journalist Bob Woodward published his newest book, Rage, which details 18 interviews he conducted with President Donald Trump over the past year about the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic. 🎃 The book, along with audio tapes of the interviews released last week, have revealed crucial details about Trump’s decisions in the past months. However, as of September 16th, they have not had a significant impact on election forecasts, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Right now, nearly 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, the disease that has been ravaging the country since the beginning of the year. Rage traces the President’s decisions across the pandemic from January to July. The book reveals that in the early days of the outbreak, Trump was fully aware of the danger and communicability of the virus calling it “deadly stuff” in February but downplayed its effects to the public.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said to Woodward in March, “I don’t want to create a panic.”

Trump’s loose guidelines involving social distancing and wearing masks led to a surge in cases over the spring and summer, peaking at over 70,000 new cases a day in April. However, even though the book has revealed faults in Trump’s ability to lead the country during the pandemic, its release has not changed forecasts for the upcoming election.

According to FiveThirtyEight polls, there has been no difference between popular vote forecasts between September 16th and September 9th, when the tapes were first released. Trump remains at 46%, while Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, leads with 52.7% of the popular vote. While the exact impact the book will have on the election is still uncertain, it has brought up the coronavirus as a key factor in the election.

Throughout the pandemic, Democrats have been largely critical of Trump’s coronavirus response, while Republicans have mostly supported the President’s actions. Similarly, the President, along with many of his followers, believe that he handled the outbreak very well.

“Nothing more could have been done (…) I acted early,” Trump said in an interview with Woodward on August 14th.

When asked about how the pandemic would be portrayed in history, Trump switches to the economy. “But the economy is doing — look, we’re close to a new stock market record,” Trump said.

Over the course of the pandemic, Trump has prioritized the economy, trying to keep jobs and businesses open. Many of Trump’s supporters share the same ideal, with some rejecting the existence of a virus at all.

“There’s no COVID,” a Trump supporter told a CNN reporter at the President’s rally in Nevada, on Saturday. “It’s a fake pandemic, created to destroy the United States of America.”

Brain Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, explains how the ideologies of the President’s supporters may explain why polls have not been significantly affected by the release of Woodward’s new book. 

“For a lot of people, they’ve already made up their mind on the election,” said Smith in a local Fox news article. “This isn’t going to be enough for Republicans to switch to the Democratic Party or Democrats to switch to the Republican Party.”

Another controversy involving Woodward’s book was how much later he planned to publish it, especially at less than 50 days away from the election. Some critics argue that Woodward had failed his responsibility as a journalist when holding back important facts.

In an interview with Margeret Sullivan, a reporter at the Washington Post, Woodward defends his decision to postpone the release of the tapes, arguing that he needed more context concerning the tapes before he released them to the public.

“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward said.

Although Rage has brought forth controversies toward both Trump and Woodward, it has revealed many crucial details about Trump’s coronavirus response that have not been known before. Even after 6 million cases, Trump remains confident toward his decisions in the past months.

“If we come up with the vaccines and therapeutics, then I’ll give myself an A-plus,” Trump told Woodward.