Bob Woodward Calls Joe Biden's Debate Performance A 'Political Hydrogen Bomb'

Bob Woodward, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and associate editor of the Washington Post, is calling on reporters to “very aggressively” seek “an explanation” for President Joe Biden’s disastrous performance during Thursday’s debate against Donald Trump.

Woodward, who said so Friday on MSNBC’s “The Beat,” told Ari Melber he was “shocked.”

“Biden’s performance was so bad, so awful, the way I look at it as a reporter, there must be some explanation,” Woodward told Melber. “What really happened? He was preparing for this a long time, he knew it was consequential, and then it was this bad.”

“The answer here is in reporting — in seeking, very aggressively, an explanation,” the Post editor added.

Woodward, known for uncovering the 1970s Watergate scandal involving then-President Richard Nixon, argued this explanation shouldn’t “come out in some book” in the future, but that the public needs it “now” — and likened Biden’s performance to a “political hydrogen bomb.”

“I sat there and watched it, and I could not believe it,” Woodward told Melber, likening Biden’s poor showing to a “political hydrogen bomb.”

Woodward has joined a growing chorus of political pundits casting doubt on Biden’s ability to win the upcoming election. Those voices now also include the New York Times’ editorial board, whose op-ed calling for Biden to step down was published during Woodward’s interview Friday.

“Well, it’s inevitable,” said Woodward when Melber broke the news on-air.

Noting Biden must have been “holed up for days” to prepare for the debate, Woodward said he didn’t want “to speculate on possible explanations” for the president’s performance — but said that question is what journalists should focus on answering.

President Biden, seen here Friday at a post-debate campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.
President Biden, seen here Friday at a post-debate campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

“That’s where the reportorial energy should go,” he told Melber, adding: “If a building blows up in downtown of some city, the story will be what happened, and then the story will be how did this happen, why did it happen?”

“And that’s where I’m very, very curious,” he continued, “because this was a mega-disaster.”

Woodward finished by urging Democrats not to “downplay” the visible realities of Thursday’s debate — after which a CNN flash poll found that 67% of viewers felt Trump performed better than Biden — by merely telling voters, “Oh, well, it was just a bad night.”

“It was an incoherent night,” the 81-year-old Woodward concluded.