The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward said Wednesday that a White House official lashed out at him over his reporting on looming across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.
“They’re not happy at all, and some people kind of, you know, said, look, we don’t see eye to eye on this,” he explained on CNN. “It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this.”
“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,” Woodward added. “And even though we don’t look at it that way, you do look at it that way. And I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communication’s strategy – let’s hope it’s not a strategy, but it’s a tactic that somebody’s employed, and said, look, we don’t go around trying to say to reporters, if you, in an honest way, present something we don’t like, that, you know, you’re going to regret this.”
Woodward also told Politico on Wednesday that the White House official “yelled at me for about a half hour.” He said the official sent him a follow-up email apologizing for raising his voice. The email contained the warning he would “regret” his reporting.
In his book The Price of Politics and a recent column, Woodward explained that the idea for the sequester was originally conceived by the White House. The automatic budget cuts were proposed as part of a political deal to raise the federal debt ceiling in 2011.
Republicans have sought to use Woodword’s reporting to blame Obama for the sequester, which cuts both defense and non-defense spending. The White House has pointed out that Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the indiscriminate cuts.
A White House official told The Hill on Wednesday night that the “regret this” comment was not meant to be threatening.
“Of course no threat was intended,” the aide explained. “As Mr. Woodward noted, the email from the aide was sent to apologize for voices being raised in their previous conversation. The note suggested that Mr. Woodward would regret the observation he made regarding the sequester because that observation was inaccurate, nothing more. And Mr. Woodward responded to this aide’s email in a friendly manner.”
Watch video uploaded to YouTube by CNN, below:
[Ed. note: Updated with statement from White House official]