Famed Washington Post reporter and author Bob Woodward has been the target of much praise from the right and scorn from the left this week, after writing an article for the newspaper fully blaming Obama for coming up with the idea of the sequester—and being most to blame for the current mess by not showing “leadership” in solving it.
Responding to the pushback from the White House and many in the media on basic facts and his analysis, Woodward summoned DC lap dogs from Politico, Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen, to his home to show them an e-mail from an unnamed top Obama official issuing what he called a “threat” to him (of the “or else” variety), which his visitors appeared to swallow whole. Woodward also warned that the president was becoming positively “Nixonian.”
Published at the Politico site, this obsequious report (the writers also backed Woodward’s view on Obama as bad guy in the sequester debate) drew wide mockery on the web last night, even from some on the right. The “threat” appeared no different from someone’s simply warning another that they might be embarrassed if they continue with their current line of action or thinking. This was it in its entirety: “I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
The White House quickly pointed out what most readers had already concluded: Woodward was completely hyping the alleged threat—sort of like Bush did with Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons. He had even said much the same thing in a hasty CNN appearnace.
Now the White House has released the full text of the e-mails exchanged by the official, IDed as Gene Sperling, and Woodward—and they should bring (but probably won’t) full shame to Woodward, Vandehei and Allen.
Politico has released the full e-mails and they give lie to Woodward’s claim of feeling “threatened,” as you’ll see in Woodward’s reply and Sperling calling him “a friend.” Now we learn that Vandehei and Allen deliberately left out the key “as a friend” lead-in to the alleged “threat.” Sperling also wrote, “my bad,” and closed with: “My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.” Some threat!
From the “threatened” Woodward reply to Sperling: “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.”
Dan Froomkin calls the whole affair in a tweet: “Bob Woodward’s Mad Hatter tea party with Allen and Vandehei…. All of them puffed up and delusional.” A writer at The Atlantic Wire observed: “We hope Woodward never gets an e-mail in ALL CAPS.” As Dick Cheney might put it, we are simply hearing the cries of old-line DC journos in the “death throes” of their game.
As for Woodward charging that Obama was becoming Nixonian. I guess except for ordering multiple break-ins, paying hush money, suggesting that a think-tank’s office get firebombed, destroying evidence and more.
Meanwhile, we are waiting for Bob to call a press conference and declare either (1) “I am not a kook” or (2) “You won’t have Woodward to kick around anymore” or maybe (3) “Follow the dummy.” Or, à la The Godfather, he’s petrified that he will wake up tomorrow and find in his bed a horse’s…ass.
Greg Mitchell, a former editor of Editor & Publisher, has written more than a dozen books, including seveal on influential US political campaigns.
Politico reporters whine about lack of access to the president, but when they got access to Bush they asked trivial questions, Greg Mitchell writes.