Bob Woodward must be developing a thin skin.
The spat between the Washington Post’s associate editor and Gene Sperling, economic adviser to the president, clearly falls into the category of “inside baseball” for political junkies but raises interesting questions.
It’s not unusual for reporters to be criticized by public officials or to be warned not to write something, but Woodward decided to make his dispute with Sperling public, placing the famed Watergate reporter (who’s more well known than Sperling) in the center of a news story. Woodward said it made him uncomfortable when a senior White House official warns a reporter that he will regret writing a story.
I’ve been yelled at by the best of them in a 34-year career and have received a nasty email or two but the email exchange between Sperling and Woodward is about as mild as they come.
The website Politico published the email from Sperling to Woodward and then Woodward’s response.
Sperling’s Feb. 22 email starts and ends with an apology for having raised his voice at Woodward. The “threat” relates to Sperling’s opinion of a specific criticism of President Barack Obama which the journalist was planning to write.
“I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim,” Sperling wrote.
Sperling went on in his conclusion to point out to Woodward that what he wrote was “Your call, obviously.”
Woodward responded in a Feb. 23 email that no apology was necessary and that he welcomed Sperling’s personal advice.
“I welcome a little heat,” Woodward wrote.
It’s not clear what made the Washington Post journalist change his tone and insert himself into a news story. One can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a history of bad blood between two Washington insiders that’s at the root of this story.