Opinion: Readers don’t like Trump. The Woodward tapes take their disgust to a new level

President Trump speaks at the White House on Sept. 9.
President Trump speaks during an event on judicial appointments at the White House on Sept. 9.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Regular readers of the L.A. Times letters page understand that perhaps no other politician is held in lower esteem by our readers than President Trump. Yes, local leaders, especially those at City Hall, draw plenty of rebukes from our letter writers, but none of them match the sustained criticism under which this president comes.

And it’s getting worse.

The revelation that Trump admitted to journalist Bob Woodward back in February, before more than 191,000 Americans would go on to die from COVID-19, that he knew the novel coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” has prompted arguably the most viscerally angry denunciations of this president by our readers since he took office. Also coming under fire is Woodward, who recorded his interviews in February and March but waited until September to report the president’s damning confessions.

This will almost certainly not be the last we’ll hear about this from our letter writers, but for now, here is a selection of what they are saying.

Ronald M. Papell, an attorney in Los Angeles, says Trump and the people who enabled him may need to be prosecuted:

There is no longer anything to argue about. Trump knew of the coming pandemic and the deaths that would be certain to follow. Trump is no longer just an ignorant narcissistic, racist and misogynist. He is arguably a killer.


Those who have enabled him and especially those Republican senators who have swapped patriotism for right-wing justices are no longer lackeys. They are aiders and abettors. They are unindicted co-conspirators.

Not only should they all lose their elections, they should be prosecuted.

Rick Dunn of San Diego wonders about the implications for Trump and our society:

Woodward’s revelations, particularly because corroborated by Trump himself in the taped interviews, qualify as earthshaking political news. Among the thoughts to which they give rise are:

  • If they are sufficient to bring Trump down, consider the delightful coincidence that it was Woodward and recording that also brought down President Richard Nixon.
  • Trump’s approval ratings during his presidency have seldom varied more than a few points on either side of 40%. If these revelations don’t cause a substantial dip in Trump’s popularity, it indicates a societal division greater than any other since the Civil War. Trump might be gone after the election, but his 40% will still be here. Healing would be long, difficult and not guaranteed.
  • Why did Woodward wait so long when an earlier disclosure might have saved thousands of lives and diminished great economic loss?

Peggy Kravitz also directs criticism at Woodward:

Why did Woodward sit on the information that the president knew how serious the virus was for six months? For a book deal?

Talk about inappropriate.

Sharon Austry of Fort Worth, Texas, compares Trump to a willfully negligent lifeguard:

It is unconscionable that Trump knew in February that the coronavirus was airborn and much more deadly than the flu but told the public that it would soon disappear like magic.

That would be like if a lifeguard heard of sharks in the water and a tidal wave approaching but refused to shut down the beach, and instead of demanding that swimmers move to higher ground, invited everyone back into the water while ridiculing any of those wearing life jackets.

More than 190,000 Americans are dead and millions are drowning in debt because of Trump’s indifference to our suffering.

Trump should be prosecuted along with every Republican in Congress who looked the other way as the president ignored Russian interference, separated immigrant children from their parents, gutted environmental protections and tried to drown our democracy.