Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward, famed for helping break the Watergate story over 30 years ago, has been taking heat the past couple of days for his claims that the White House threatened him for questioning President Obama's version of how the deep federal spending cuts, now known as sequestration, came about.
According to Politico.com, last week Woodward told a senior White House official that his weekend Washington Post column would challenge Obama's insistence that the sequestration crisis was a result of Republican lawmakers' unwillingness to compromise on spending cuts and tax increases. Both in his 2012 book, The Price of Politics, and in subsequent columns, Woodward has pointed out that the sequestration strategy was devised by the Obama administration and approved by the president.
That call to the White House official, now identified as economic aide Gene Sperling, turned into a tirade against Woodward, with Sperling allegedly yelling at Woodward “for about a half-hour,” Woodward told Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, who write the “Behind the Curtain” column at Politico.com.
Woodward told the Politico team that the verbal attack was followed by an e-mail in which Sperling wrote: “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. 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.” Sperling then told Woodward that “I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
While Woodward said that he never felt personally threatened by Sperling's statement, he insisted that it was nonetheless significant. “Come on!” Woodward told Allen and Vandehei. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”
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Photo of Bob Woodward: AP Images