Cronkite honoree journalist Judy Woodruff lashed out at President Donald Trump’s verbal assaults on the press in an interview Wednesday with “Arizona Horizon” host Ted Simons
Woodruff’s interview was recorded at the Arizona PBS studio in downtown Phoenix at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“Most journalists I know…are trying to cover what’s going on as best they can, and they’re trying to get it right,” Woodruff said. “The idea that we would be accused of being the enemy of the American people is just an incomprehensible thing to me.”
Woodruff is the anchor and managing editor of the “PBS NewsHour” and has covered six presidents prior to Trump. Her remarks came in response to a question about President Trump’s claims that the press is the “enemy of the people” and “made up of truly dishonest and bad people that don’t like America.”
“Every president I’ve covered has been unhappy with his press coverage,” Woodruff said. “Not a single one of them felt the press treated them fairly, but none of them went so far as to say the press was the enemy of the American people and that we hate the country.”
While Woodruff was angered by the president’s remarks, she said it wouldn’t be good for journalists or the American people for the press to engage in a war with the president.
“My concern is not just that the president said it, but that now this is taking hold in the minds of many Americans,” Woodruff said. “What’s more important now than ever is for us to do our job…to get it right but keep our heads down and not try to engage in this war…with one particular individual who, for whatever reason, has picked a fight with us.”
Following the interview, Woodruff and Simons answered questions from the audience members, many of whom were students concerned about their future.
Junior journalism major Austen Bundy said he was encouraged by Woodruff’s remarks.
“I’m really glad that she was able to kind of encourage us…to make sure that we still do our jobs, because the people still need us,” Bundy said.
Freshman journalism major Jamie Landers asked Woodruff for advice on how to stay positive while working in the current media atmosphere.
“It’s very easy to kind of throw in the towel in this profession, or to fall short,” Landers said. “But I think it’s really important what she said, that you have to…keep shining that light on the truth, and you owe it to the American people to continue to do your job, because it’s more important now than it’s ever been.”
Woodruff was visiting the Cronkite School because she and the late Gwen Ifill were selected to receive the 34th Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. Woodruff and Ifill worked together as co-anchors of the “PBS NewsHour” prior to Ifill’s death in 2016.
Woodruff accepted the award for both herself and Ifill at the Cronkite Award Luncheon on Thursday at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix hotel.
Contact the reporter at DerekHall@asu.edu.