I don’t regret writing earlier today that the MSM would be turned off by Gene Sperling’s statement to Bob Woodward that he would regret some of his reporting on the sequester. But it looks like I may have erred in this prediction.
Politico reports that some in the media reject Woodward’s claim that Sperling’s remark amounted to a threat. Among that group, interestingly enough, is Bret Baier of Fox News. Here is Baier’s take on the email exchange between Woodward and Sperling:
It was a cordial exchange for the most part, and Sperling is actually apologizing for a heated telephone conversation they had earlier in the day. I’m not saying the White House doesn’t pressure reporters all the time and put the heat on reporters covering the White House. I’ve heard many, many stories that they do. But this particular incident and this particular email, I’m not sure that characterizing it as a threat — I think Bob Woodward has a little bit of explaining to do about that characterization.
Baier’s view is similar to what I had to say about the exchange in a post that I also don’t regret. And Woodward seems to regret what is being viewed by some as an overreaction to Sperling’s email. He says he never characterized what Sperling wrote as a threat but merely argued that the language was unfortunate and not the way to operate.
But earlier, Woodward did say to CNN:
They have the power. When someone says “you’ll regret something,” they can use their power any way they want. It’s a tone question…. I’ve been dealing with White House people going back to the Nixon years. They called us every name in the book. [This] just strikes me as not a way to deal with this. It makes me uncomfortable.
In any event, it looks like I was probably wrong to say that Woodward has unleashed a “perfect storm.” There just wasn’t enough in Sperling’s remark to disrupt the weather to that degree. It is raining now, but maybe not for long if the White House tones down its aggressive approach to the MSM a little bit.