There seemed to be was almost a full house on Tuesday, October 8, when the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council held its 71st Annual Awards Luncheon at the Irving Convention Center. And, there was good reason for the crowd to be so large. The Council was to present its big annual awards, after all, and the famous Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were scheduled to be the keynote speakers.
Once the guests, including Ken Malcolmson, Chris Durovich, David Berry, Crayton Webb, Ruben Esquivel, Jimmy Wynne, Bernice Washington, Shirley Robinson and Don Turnbow, found their tables in the huge banquet hall, Council President and CEO W. Stephen Love got things rolling by introducing the organization’s roughly 50 hospital trustees.
After Carrie Barton sang the National Anthem and Michael Darrouzet delivered the invocation, attendees tucked into a delicious lunch and applauded the award recipients. Introduced by John Phillips, they included Kyle Armstrong, president of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-McKinney, who was named the Young Healthcare Executive of the Year; and Bob Ferguson of Texas Health Resources, who received the Kerney Laday Sr. Trustee of the Year nod.
The day’s premier honor —the Distinguished Health Service Award — went to Andy Stern, who’s co-chair of Medical City Healthcare and a board member for AMN Healthcare. He’s also been the managing director of Club Oaks Consulting since selling his longtime PR firm, Sunwest Communications, to Crayton Webb in 2017.
In his brief remarks accepting the award, Andy pointed to the Council’s good work in uniting the DFW healthcare community. “We work together for the common good,” Andy told the crowd. “That does not happen in any other city.”
With that, it was time for Scott Peek, the Council’s past chair, to introduce Bob and Carl as well as NBC 5’s Bianca Castro, who would moderate the discussion. The two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, who were to discuss the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Watergate scandal, wasted little time jumping in.
The most important lesson that came out of Watergate, Bob said, was “the centrality of truth.” There have been 12,000 untruths told by President Donald Trump so far, he added, but also a “renaissance of great reporting in the daily coverage” of the current administration by the likes of CNN, where Carl is an on-air contributor, and The Washington Post, where Carl and Bob wrote about Watergate and where Bob continues to work.
Bob recalled that, after President Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the scandal, then-Post publisher Katharine Graham wrote the two reporters a note on a yellow legal pad. It read, “Dear Carl and Bob … Now don’t start thinking too highly of yourselves. … Beware the demon pomposity.” In addition to that wise counsel for the media, Bob said, it would be helpful “to find some way to get emotions out of the discussion” about politics and government.
“People want to tell the truth … if you give them the opportunity,” Carl said, adding, however, that social media “makes it harder to sort out fact from fiction.” Picking up on Carl’s assertion about truth-telling, Bob told how he had gone to the homes of several key sources for his book Fear, about the Trump administration. People are more relaxed and more inclined to tell the truth in their homes than in a workplace setting, he said.
Carl said the current president has been more successful than Nixon was in “demonizing the press,” and likened Trump’s effort to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine matter to Nixon’s efforts in 1972 against a potential Democratic rival, Maine Sen. Ed Muskie. “Nixon didn’t want to run against Muskie, and Trump doesn’t want to run against Biden,” Carl said. As the Ukraine matter unfolds, he added, he expects that “more and more Republicans will be disturbed.”
Neither reporter is a fan of the president, it was clear by the end of the discussion. Some of Trump’s top advisors have left the administration because they believe “the president is a danger to our national security,” said Carl. Added Bob: “Trump is under incredible stress, and he’s determined to win. … I think we’re in one of the most dangerous times in our country.”