Politico Manufactures Woodward’s War

Someone should get Bob Woodward some Preparation H because he’s acting all butthurt over a minor spat with the White House.

On Wednesday, Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen put out this piece claiming the seasoned political reporter was “at war” with the White House. It all stems from Woodward’s recent piece alleging that the looming sequester cuts were all an idea that came from the Obama administration. Woodward tells of an angry phone conversation he had with an unidentified White House official and a follow up email that Woodward perceived as “a threat.” This led to conservatives rallying around Woodward for his calling out of the administration and pointing to their threatening tactics as a form of bullying. This made Twitter an unbelievably painful place to be on Wednesday evening.

It didn’t take long for Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith to report the White House official in question was none other than economic aide, Gene Sperling. Politico, sensing they had been scooped, confirmed that it was Sperling AND released the threatening email in question.

The only problem? It’s hardly a threat.In the email, which Politico posted to their website, Sperling starts by saying, “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad.” OK, so far this is nicer than 99 percent of emails I ever get from anyone. Let’s continue. Sperling calmly explains why he disagrees with Woodward over the idea that the sequester came from the White House and then comes the big “threat.” Sperling says,

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.

That’s it. That’s the BIG threat. Allen and VandeHei should be embarrassed. To call that “war,” is hyperbole on steroids. Politico stirred the pot on the story until it was built into a froth and then when they tried to turn up the heat by releasing the email, they got burned by their own hype machine. I’d be willing to bet that any working reporter has received more threatening emails in the last hour. Maybe Politico should think twice before declaring “war” in the media.

Which leads to the fact that Woodward isn’t what he used to be. This proves it. How can one of the most celebrated journalists of all time bristle up and say that he felt threatened. He must rely on the same, tired sources that kiss his wrinkled ass over and over again. The second Woodward does some real legwork and someone takes half a tone with him, he declares war and acts like a big baby.

Woodward isn’t the Queen Mother. He isn’t infallible. He’s done some amazing work in his time, but he should know better. You’d think someone who has been around this long would have thicker skin.