Legendary Washington reporter Bob Woodward said a “very senior person” in the White House threatened that he would “regret” reporting that has been critical of White House handling of the sequester.
Normally this doesn’t surprise me, it’s how the White House operates, bullying reporters who write things it doesn’t like. Frankly, it’s Nixonian. This is suppression of speech. Maybe this will finally shine a seriously bright light on scurrilous Obama White House tactics.
That they would go after Woodward is a bit of a surprise, both because of the respect he commands and because if he decided to really focus his journalistic talents on Obama, we would find out all sorts of things the White House doesn’t want us to know.
In a piece running Thursday evening, Politico describes the exchange that led to the threat:
Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about – and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward told us in an hour-long interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets.
Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
. . . A White House official said: “Of course no threat was intended.”
Let’s go to the videotape.
Woodward, you’ll note in the first video, suggested to Blitzer that if President Obama “knew that was part of the communications strategy – let’s hope it’s not a strategy . . . ” that he’d put the kabosh on it.
Nonsense. It is a strategy, it has been for a long time, and Obama knows all about it.
Woodward, as you may know, has been correcting the White House as it has tried to deny responsibility for the sequester, which it created. Woodward has said Obama “moved the goalposts” on Republicans by insisting tax increases be part of a deal to avoid the automatic spending cuts.
Earlier Thursday, Woodward said it was a “kind of madness I haven’t seen in a long time” for Obama not to deploy an aircraft carrier because of the looming sequester.
The pressure will now be on for Woodward to name the official who threatened him, or for the White House to fess up.
Governing by intimidation. Suppressing speech. It took 40 years, but Woodward once again is facing off against Richard Nixon in the White House.