By AATTP contributing author, Sky Palma
After a growing backlash, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on Thursday seemed to walk back the claim that White House economic adviser Gene Sperling “threatened” him by suggesting that he would “regret” his reporting on the events surrounding the sequester.
Last week, Woodward wrote an op-ed that accused President Barack Obama of “moving the goal posts” by proposing new revenues as part of a plan to avoid the so-called sequester.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Woodward asserted that Sperling had issued a “threat” by telling him he would “regret” his reporting. But the email exchange in question later revealed that the discussion between Woodward and Sterling actually seemed friendly rather than threatening.
On Thursday night, Woodward appeared on Fox News under the header, “Woodward Explains Why He Feels Threatened by the White House.”
Seeming to take back his earlier accusation, Woodward suggested that people misinterpreted his remarks, but he still insisted that threatening reporters is “not the way to operate.”
“Did you feel at any time threatened, either — A — during the phone call or did you feel that it was a threat when he wrote the word, you’ll ‘regret’ this?” Hannity asked.
Woodward clearly dodged the question, replying that the White House was trying to “make the conduct of the press the issue” instead of the controversy surrounding the sequester.
“Do you think the president lied?” Hannity asked.
“I’m not going to use words like that,” Woodward said. “I think we need to tone down the rhetoric here.”
Although Woodward somewhat retracted his claim, it’s clear that he’s still trying to vaguely promote his initial narrative.
“The problem is there are all kinds of reporters who are much less experience, that are younger, and if they’re going to get roughed up in this way,” he later added. “I’m getting flooded with emails people in the press saying this is the way the White House works, they’re trying to control and they don’t want to be challenged or crossed.”
Here is the actual exchange, courtesy of Politico:
From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013
I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.
But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)
I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.
My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.
From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013
Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob
Watch Woodward’s Fox Segment in the video below.:
For more of Sky’s work, check out his blog DeadState