From Bob Woodward's MasterClass

Students Dig Into Woodward's Interview With Trump

Bob and a group of students from his Yale journalism seminar take a deep dive into his interview with then–presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Topics include: Analyzing the Story Lede • Figuring Out What’s Driving Trump • Grading Journalism


Bob and a group of students from his Yale journalism seminar take a deep dive into his interview with then–presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Topics include: Analyzing the Story Lede • Figuring Out What’s Driving Trump • Grading Journalism

Bob Woodward

Teaches Investigative Journalism

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People taking this class, I would urge you to find something-- a hard target. Nothing's off limits. There are no boundaries. You need to-- as representatives of the media-- to ask the questions of people who have power. And we're going to start with the interview Bob Costa-- a political reporter at The Post-- and I did with Trump last year when Trump was right on the edge of becoming the Republican nominee. It was virtually certain at that point. Bob Costa and I, we spent a lot of time thinking about this. How can we get some answers from Trump? How we can try to find out what's inside? What's driving him? And Chris has some clips from the audio clips of this. [AUDIO PLAYBACK] So when did it go to yes? Because that's-- I mean, having made-- you know, we all make minor decisions in our lives. And this is the boy. Big decision. Yeah, these are big decisions. And I say, and sometimes, I'll say it in the speeches, it takes guts to run for president, especially if you're not a Politician My question is, you sort of hesitate at the start, and Trump is going on about takes guts, and he's sort of getting into that speech he does. But you interrupt him three times, four times. It goes on later in the interview, and you ask, when did it become yes. And you really want to get to this point and Trump is not getting it. When do you decide when to interrupt someone you're interviewing? What's the thought process going to your head? Interrupt if they're not answering the question. And this was one of the first questions. And you're trying to set the terms of engagement. And by persisting with the same question, we're saying to him, we really want answers. And in this case, the question is, how did you make this big decision. And having written books about eight other presidents, how they cross that line, and say, hey, I'm running. And the why. And in pursuing the question with Trump, finally, the fourth time, he said, well, it got to yes. And then we followed up, well, what did your family say. And he literally said, that his wife, Melania, said to him, oh, if you run, you will win. And a lot of people, now that he's president, have theorized, maybe at birth, maybe early in his business career, certainly at various stages in New York, he was always saying he's about to run. Trump doesn't like to be interrupted. You know, he likes to give his spiel. And what was sort of the game you were playing when you're trying to build a relationship with him through the interview, but then you interrupted him when he wanted to launch in? I mean, how do you navigate that? We really want the answer to this. And I think-- he didn't say, I'm not going to give it-- he didn't throw up a wall. You could see-- and there's no video of this-- but he's thinking of that question. On the flip side of that question, how do you kno...

Find the real story

Bob Woodward was just 29 when he changed a nation. His Watergate reporting with Carl Bernstein helped expose the corruption of the Nixon presidency. Two Pulitzer Prizes and nineteen best-selling books later, the legendary journalist is teaching his first-ever online class for anyone who wants to find the truth. Learn to investigate a story, interview sources, and understand how the news is written. The next history-making story might be yours.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Follow significant current event stories in the media with the attitude that there is some truth in every one. Read to learn. Educate yourself on the issues with the goal of understanding and being able to make a reasonably intelligent assessment of what is being presented as fact

Deep understanding of the elthic of journalism.

As a repoter for a local small town paper, this class provided big time journalism techniques for small town America. Thank you and God Bless.

I am not a journalism student, but I greatly admire Bob Woodward. Even though he is not a dynamic speaker, this class was fascinating. He exudes integrity and I found myself riveted to every word.


William S.

Kinda tired of the negative anti-Trump talk, most of it is baseless and based on opinion and not facts. It was the Obama and Hillary years that are tied to corruption, take SpyGate for example, paid for by the DNC. And they were all in on it. Justice will come. Bill Barr will serve it. Deep state in America will be cleaned out.

A fellow student be fair I watched this lesson again and since I'm 84 years old and lived thru many major events including WWII and the Nixon era I will give a few short statements of Nixon era facts: Johnson committed us to back the Vietnam war. (Gulf of Tonkin) Johnson withdrew his support and refused to run for another term of office. Nixon followed the advice of his military and brought North Vietnam to the peace table by bombing designated areas in North Vietnam. Nixon got us out of Vietnam except for air support. Nixon won reelection by a humiliating majority. The Democrats vowed to get rid of him. Nixon had enough personal issues that they accomplished their goal. I'm not sure this helps but it makes me feel better to give my point of view at the time. (My war was the Korean war of which I'll let someone else comment.)

A fellow student

If you want to be the story rather than report the facts of the story why are you wasting your time on this class? This is not a debate. It's journalism!

A fellow student

I'm curious what more Woodward thinks journalists could have done to cover Trump before the election. I think journalists as a whole did an excellent job covering Trump, but fell short covering the public/Trump voters.

Lisa W.

I appreciate your perspective on the fact that wasting time on arguments is irrelevant. Knowing what we do now, fear has been the overarching theme oft his presidency.

Samuel P.

I enjoyed Bob telling us that he did not vote and he remains unbiased for the sake of accuracy in reporting. In this lesson, not one person was pro-Trump and so unbiased reporting was not given a fair swing at the ball. People have lost faith in journalism because of its one side or the other. Bob's qualities are needed on the page today but every student in this lesson is of the same bias and therefore the clarity of true journalism remained clouded.


When a student asked why Bob didn't ask about his tax returns and other burning questions the public wanted to know, I was satisfied with Bob's answer that Trump has his prepared response to these types of questions and that he would get no more than sound bytes. Bob has decades of experience interviewing Presidents and people of all walks of life and reporting on that from the middle. He knows best what types of questions to ask. This course is intended as an educational outlet for students and professionals to learn from the best. It is unfair and extremely inconsiderate for Trumper's to come on this site to further their own political agenda by attempting to invalidate Bob's expertise. I wish they would go back to Breitbart and other Hate programs.

A fellow student

I think the students demonstrated what is lacking in journalism - the ability to listen and allow the subject to reveal themselves. They wanted to see Woodward challenge Trump and call him out on positions that they find abhorrent rather than tease out his thinking on other issues. Great learning for me as I have often shared the students' frustrations with the media when they have the opportunity to ask questions of power.

Dan O.

I'd give good grades to the larger, traditional print-news sources, and also to television with the exception of those who pick sides, such as Fox. A low grade to radio due to the many meaningless sound bites. Television has sound bites but is the only place people will actually see what is coming out of the mouths of the candidates as they are speaking. I have to add something about the production of this series: I'm having a very difficult time staying focused due to the movement of one camera that juxtaposes with the still cameras. It is like we are in a turning room and then come to an abrupt stop, then resume turning again. I'm a videographer so this may be more noticeable to me than it would be to others.

Kevin H.

Lesson #4. Terrific. Students ask some tough questions of Bob Woodward. And his straight forward answers made this an extremely enlightening lesson. And I would have given the press, in general, a C. Naturally, as was pointed out, there was/is a "huge" selection to grade. But, overall, harder questions could have been asked (of all candidates) and the focus could have been on more relevant issues instead of all the sidetracking to cover the many distractions.