As the result of his efforts to recount the genesis, and likely effects, of sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts slated to begin Friday, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward is getting a taste of what happens to those who challenge the Obama-Democrat-media machine. Woodward’s allegations of inappropriate pressure from the White House were not only met with attacks from high-level administration lackeys, but Obama allies in the press immediately joined the feeding frenzy before any objective evidence was available — a chilling warning to anyone who would dare defy the power structure in Washington. And while debates about the intensity of the White House’s intimidation tactics are handy for undermining the credibility of the veteran reporter, looming in the background is the real source of the Left’s mob attack: Woodward’s vocal objections to the Obama administration’s narrative on the sequester.
Woodward began roiling the waters with a Feb. 22 piece for the Post, reiterating what he wrote in his book, “The Price of Politics.” He explained that the White House, not the Republican Party, was responsible for proposing the sequester. “Obama personally approved of the plan …according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved,” Woodward explained. This directly contradicts Obama’s assertion during the third presidential debate. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said at the time. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
Woodward undoubtedly antagonized the White House even more when he said the president was “moving the goalposts,” in reference to the idea that Obama insisted any new deal replacing the sequester would have to include additional revenue, not just spending cuts. “His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more,” wrote Woodward. “But that was not the deal he made.”
Yet Woodward still wasn’t through. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show broadcast February 27, Woodward criticized Obama again, for overstating the consequences of sequestration. “Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Woodward asked. “Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need’ or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document? Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
On Wednesday night, he revealed that he had received pushback from the White House. During an interview with Politico, Woodward insisted that a top White House official, later identified as National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, “yelled at me for about a half-hour,” and followed up that tirade with an email. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” Sperling wrote. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
Woodward was seemingly annoyed by exchange. “‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”
Woodward continued. “They have to be willing to live in the world where they’re challenged,” he insisted. “I’ve tangled with lots of these people. But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years, or 10 years’ experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate.”
After that, the liberal media marshaled themselves against the reporter they have long considered an icon for bringing down the Left’s number one bête noire, Richard Nixon.
“Woodward Does Duty With the Phony Outrage Machine,” says the Huffington Post’s Eric Boehlert, who insisted that “by signing up for duty with the Phony Outrage Machine and by parading around on Fox News wringing his hands over a fictitious threat, Woodward does serious damage to his reputation.”
“Bob Woodward demands law-ignoring, mind-controlling presidential leadership” claims Salon’s Alex Pareene, who characterizes the reporter as one whose “modern reporting style does not put too much of a strain on his Ferragamo loafers: He simply talks to powerful people in his kitchen and then ‘re-creates’ events based on what they tell him.” Pareene longs for a Washington, D.C. “where no one talks to Woodward,” concluding that “Bob Woodward has lost it, let’s all stop indulging him.”
On Yesterday’s “Morning Joe” show, Mika Brzezinski mocked Woodward’s revelations about Sperling, wondering if he were “really afraid of a little aide who said that to him,” while panelists Mark Halperin and Andrea Mitchell, eager to promote the “everybody does it” meme to deflect criticism away from the current administration, insisted that they had been threatened by staff members of the Bush and Reagan White Houses, respectively.
Yet it was on Twitter where the left was in full attack mode. David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and current member of Organizing for America, claimed that “Watching Woodward last 2 days is like imagining my idol Mike Schmidt facing live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.” Former L.A. Times reporter Steve Weinstein said Woodward “is senile.” Politico White House reporter Glenn Thrush wondered if Woodward has “humped up his book sales from GOPers.”
Numerous other tweets ridiculing Woodward can be seen here and here. A common theme was that Woodward’s claims of being “threatened” were overblown. Yet Woodward never claimed he was threatened. It was the media who characterized his exchange with Sperling as such. Woodward told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he felt “very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in.” In his Politico interview he said, “Color me a little baffled. I don’t understand this White House. Do you?”
On the other hand, what Bill Clinton’s former attorney Lanny Davis revealed yesterday sounded very much like a threat. In an interview with WMAL radio, Davis said that during his stint writing columns for the Washington Times, his editor, John Solomon, “received a phone call from a senior Obama White House official who didn’t like some of my columns, even though I’m a supporter of Obama. I couldn’t imagine why this call was made.” Davis claims the aide told Solomon, “that if he continued to run my columns, he would lose, or his reporters would lose their White House credentials.”
Davis stood up for Woodward as well. ”Firstly, you don’t threaten anyone. Secondly, you don’t threaten Bob Woodward,” he said. “He’s one of the best reporters ever. He’s factual. You can disagree with facts that he reports, but he’s factual. Don’t mess with him about his facts. You can mess with him about the interpretation of his facts, but this is not a reporter you tangle with.”
Yet that is exactly why Woodward has been targeted by a press corps that long ago abandoned truth-telling for two things they consider far more important: advocacy and access. Vast swaths of the media have become nothing more than an Amen Choir for the progressive agenda championed by Democrats and the Obama administration because they themselves are ideologically aligned with it.
As for access, the White House has made it clear that the greater the advocacy, the better the access. Nothing speaks to this better, albeit in the negative sense, than continuing efforts by this administration to delegitimize Fox News, an ongoing saga best illuminated by self-professed liberal columnist Kirsten Powers. Yet Powers clings to the anachronistic idea that “liberalism is founded on the idea of cherishing dissent and an inviolable right to freedom of expression.” Founded perhaps, but abandoned long ago. Powers would do well to recall the Journolist scandal, a coordinated effort to stifle dissent perpetrated by 400 media and academic leftists. That “dissent” was an effort to expose the truth about the president’s relationship with racial arsonist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, which had the potential to endanger Obama’s 2008 election chances.
Woodward is the left’s latest whipping boy because he is endangering the carefully crafted narrative of sequestration horror — and Republican responsibility for it — being disseminated by the left. Woodward is being singled out precisely because all media leftists are expected to fall in line behind that narrative. Plenty of conservatives have hammered the president’s take-no-prisoner approach to sequestration. None of them have been taken to task by a White House aide, or thrust into the national spotlight for the purpose of ridicule.
In short, one of the “faithful” has wandered off the Obama-Democrat-media reservation. In the long run, it is likely that no one will be more surprised than Bob Woodward when he discovers that there will be no wandering back onto it.
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