'Threat' to Woodward Wasn't Very Threatening

White House email released, pundits scoff
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2013 12:04 PM CST

People took notice yesterday when Bob Woodward told CNN that the White House had warned him that he would "regret" his sequester comments, seemingly implying that officials had threatened him. Well Politico has gotten its hands on the email Woodward was referring to—and it's not terribly threatening. The email, from economic adviser Gene Sperling, kicks off with an apology "for raising my voice" in an earlier conversation.

"But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment" about President Obama moving the sequester goal post, Sperling continues. "I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim." He goes on to lay out his case for why he believes Woodward is wrong. Woodward seems to take no umbrage, replying that Sperling doesn't need to apologize. "I for one welcome a little heat … I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening."

The reaction has been swift:

  • "We hope Woodward never gets an email in ALL CAPS," quips Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic Wire.
  • This is what aggressive PR people do for a living, Henry Blodget writes at Business Insider. They cajole, they make friends, they plead, they even yell and bully. "That's all part of the job. If you're in the journalism business, meanwhile, growing a thick skin—and occasionally yelling right back—is also part of the job."
  • The thing is, Woodward probably won't regret this. He has "amassed enough prestige to withstand a hundred terrible op-eds," writes Jonathan Chait at New York. But the whole episode is making him look petty, and demonstrating that, while he's "an elite gatherer of facts," as an analyst he's "a particular kind of awful."
(More Bob Woodward stories.)

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