Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on Thursday seemed to back off the claim that White House economic adviser Gene Sperling threatened him by suggesting that he would “regret” his reporting on the sequester.
In an op-ed published last week, Woodward had accused President Barack Obama of “moving the goal posts” by proposing new revenues as part of a plan to avert the so-called sequester, which was a deal between the White House and Congress to raise the debt ceiling and automatically cut important domestic programs and military spending by $1.2 trillion.
Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Woodward seemed to agree with host Wolf Blitzer’s assertion that Sperling had issued a “threat” by telling him he would “regret” his reporting. But an email exchange between Woodward and Sterling that was published by Politico on Thursday revealed that the discussion had actually been more friendly than threatening.
By Thursday night, Woodward was appearing on Fox News with a large graphic on the screen: “Woodward Explains Why He Feels Threatened by the White House.”
“People have said that this was a threat or I was saying it was a threat, I haven’t used that language,” he explained. “But it’s not the way to operate.”
“Did you feel at anytime threatened, either — A — during the phone call or did you feel that it was a threat when he wrote the word, you’ll ‘regret’ this?” Hannity pressed.
Woodward, however, dodged the question by saying that the White House was trying to “make the conduct of the press the issue” instead of the poor design of the sequester.
“Do you think the president lied?” Hannity asked.
“I’m not going to use words like that,” Woodward insisted. “I think we need to tone down the rhetoric here.”
“The problem is there are all kinds of reporters who are much less experience, that are younger, and if they’re going to get roughed up in this way,” he later added. “I’m getting flooded with emails people in the press saying this is the way the White House works, they’re trying to control and they don’t want to be challenged or crossed.”
Watch this video from Fox News’ Hannity, broadcast Feb. 28, 2013.