Bob Woodward sat down for a frank talk with Sean Hannity to discuss the attacks on him for reporting that the idea for sequestration originated with Barack Obama.
Hannity asked him about the conversation Woodward had with Gene Sperling, Obama’s economics czar, the author of the email threatening Woodward.
It was a half hour in which he was shouting at me. Now, I’ve known him for twenty years and I emailed back. I don’t worry about shouts; but he was really worked up and then he sent me that email apologizing and saying I’m gonna regret taking this stand.
Now, what we’re talking about here is not a fact; he’s not arguing with a fact, because beforehand he said, ‘We’re just not gonna see eye to eye on this. It’s an interpretation.’ Obviously he didn’t like being challenged on this at all. But people have said, well, this was a threat, or I was saying it was a threat. I haven’t used that language, but it’s not the way to operate in a White House.
As you know, when somebody says you’re gonna regret something, particularly someone in a position of power, like Gene Sperling, he’s not just a guy in the White House, he is the economic czar for the president. He did the same thing for Bill Clinton; he had the same job. When you say ‘you’re gonna regret challenging us,’ I just think that’s a mistake. And if you go back into the history and what other people are saying now about the Obama White House–Ron Fournier, of National Journal, wrote a piece that he’s actually refused to talk to somebody in the White House because the language he gets from this person is so belligerent.
Hannity asked, “Do you feel that’s been a pattern with you and this White house? Did you feel at any time threatened either a) during the phone call, or did you feel that it was threat when he wrote the words “You’ll regret this?”
Look, what happened here … I wrote a piece Sunday in the Washington Post on the op-ed page … They got caught about being the father of the sequester . . . for 2 or 3 months denied that. To Jay Carney’s credit, he came out and said, ‘Look, yes, the idea originated here.’
It’s not only about who originated it, but think about what the sequester is; it is one of the most irresponsible ideas … Now, Republicans signed up for this, there’s absolutely no question about it, but you look at the details of this and just the way it came about; it’s you and I sitting down and saying, ‘What are the things you really love, let’s cut, pass a law cutting those things to ribbons, and then let’s take the things I love and put that in the law, we’ll cut those things to ribbons.’ That’s the sequester. It’s one of these things that’s now being debated, what is the impact of it going to be? We don’t know, obviously, but they got caught, so this is an old trick. Make the conduct of the press the issue rather than their conduct.
Woodward later added this:
The problem is, there are all kinds of reporters who are much less experienced, who are younger, and if they’re going to get roughed up in this way … I’m flooded with email from people in the press saying, ‘This is exactly the way the White House works. They’re trying to control and they don’t want to be challenged or crossed.’
At the very end of the interview, Woodward summed up the episode thus: “The problem I had with the Gene Sperling memo, email–this comes after a shouting match, lots of people shout at me–he says I’m gonna regret. That goes into the coded, ‘You’d better watch out.'”