Did Bob Woodward invent the President's supposed 'threat'?

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Published by: Robert Laurie on Thursday February 28th, 2013

By ROBERT LAURIE - Pretty weak for a supposed threat, but...

This morning at 8:00 AM, I ran this piece regarding Bob Woodward's claim that the White House threatened him over his reporting on the sequester.  About half an hour later, The Politico ran what it claims are the emails in question and it seems Bob is, at best, hypersensitive. At worst, he's manufactured the supposed "threat" for publicity.

Here's the exchange, according to The Politico:

From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013


I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Oooooh...brutal stuff. Evidently, Woodward didn't think it was that big of a deal either, since this was his reply:

From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013

Gene: 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. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob


If this is the exchange that Woodward has been referencing, I'm not seeing any threat. It's a real stretch to claim this back and forth is, in any way, menacing. When you consider he's one of the guys who brought down Nixon, you'd think he would have a thicker skin.  On the other hand, he's a guy who knows a thing or two about Presidential threats, so we're left wondering if this was all just a play for attention, or is there something more to come?

Woodward is scheduled to appear on Hannity tonight to discuss the matter, and we'll be watching.  Updates to follow.

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