Veteran reporter Ron Fournier, the former Associated Press chief White House reporter who now is editorial director for National Journal, shares his own experience with White House bullying, which was occurring apparently even as the whole Bob Woodward episode was going down.
From his story this morning:
I tweeted: “Obama White House: Woodward is ‘willfully wrong.’ Huh-what did Nixon White House have to say about Woodward?”
. . . The (senior White House) official angered by my Woodward tweet sent me an indignant e-mail. “What’s next, a Nazi analogy?” the official wrote, chastising me for spreading “bull**** like that” I was not offended by the note, mild in comparison to past exchanges with this official. But it was the last straw in a relationship that had deteriorated.
As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Politico characterized as a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told.
Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote.
I wrote back:
“I asked you to stop e-mailing me. All future e-mails from you will be on the record — publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you. My cell-phone number is … . If you should decide you have anything constructive to share, you can try to reach me by phone. All of our conversations will also be on the record, publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you.”
I haven’t heard back from the official.
Fournier is no wimp and he values his sources. He is, in short, one of a handful of reporters in town I really respect. It must have taken heavy torrents of verbal sewage for him to put an end to the relationship.
It occurs to me. What kinds of people are these exactly? They show up for work every day at the most prestigious address in the world and spend a certain portion of their time acting in the most vile manner imaginable.
And they’re running the country. You can’t tell me they isolate this type of behavior and attitude to their phone calls to reporters.
And the president of the United States has no objection. This is our leadership.