How will the children react: Last evening, Bob Woodward went on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. While there, Woodward proceeded to play the fool—and to do a few things which were worse.
After a lengthy, largely pointless discussion of antique understandings about the sequester, Woodward went where the wild things are. Blitzer initiated the exchange—but Woodward was eager to follow.
Below, you see the passage in question. Woodward makes no attempt to debunk or deny Blitzer’s claim that “it's getting pretty nasty” over at the White House:
BLITZER (2/27/13): It's getting pretty nasty. Take us behind the scenes a little bit, the allegations being hurled against you right now.It’s hard to make out what Woodward is saying in that last garbled passage. This isn’t the clearest of minds. (To watch this full exchange, just click here.)
WOODWARD: Well, I mean—
BLITZER: You're used to this kind of stuff, but—
WOODWARD: I am.
BLITZER: Share with our viewers what's going on between you and the White House.
WOODWARD: Well, they're— They're not happy at all, and some people kind of, you know, said, "Look, we don't see eye to eye on this." They never really said, though, afterwards they've said that this is factually wrong, and they, and it was said to me in an e-mail by a top—
BLITZER: What was, what was said?
WOODWARD: It was, it was said very clearly, "You will regret doing this."
BLITZER: Who sent that e-mail to you?
WOODWARD: Well, I'm not going to say.
BLITZER: Was it a senior person at the White House?
WOODWARD: A very senior person. And just as a matter— I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, "You're going to regret doing something that you believe in, and even though we don't look at it that way, you do look at it that way." And it's—
I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communications strategy—let's hope it's not a strategy, that it's a tactic that somebody's employed— and said, “Look, we don't go around trying to say to reporters if you, in an honest way, present something we don't like, that, you know, you're going to regret this." And just—
It's Mickey Mouse.
But as he spoke with Blitzer, Woodward helped advance the dark suggestions first presented by Allen and Vandehei at Politico. On Tuesday, the boys interviewed Woodward for a good solid hour. (They even got to visit his house!) They came away with the idea that Woodward felt he had received “a veiled threat” from the White House.
To read their report, click here. That's where this bullshit started.
According to Politico, Woodward thought he'd received a threat! And as of this very moment, that’s the way CNN is playing Blitzer’s interview. The headline on CNN’s web site says this: “Bob Woodward says he was threatened by White House.” (As we post, we see that CNN has now walked that headline back.)
Was Woodward threatened by the White House? Did he receive a “veiled threat?” The claim is beyond absurd. In response to Woodward’s allegations, the White House released the e-mails in question—and no, they don’t include a threat, or anything mildly like that. (To read the e-mails in question, click here.)
Woodward swapped e-mails with Gene Sperling, a most mild-mannered fellow. Not only was Sperling’s e-mail to Woodward innocuous (although he apologized for raising his voice in a previous dispute). In real time, Woodward replied to Sperling’s allegedly threatening e-mail.
How badly threatened did Woodward feel? When he replied to Sperling's e-mail, this is what he said:
WOODWARD E-MAIL TO SPERLING (2/23/13):In real time, that was Woodward’s response to the allegedly threatening e-mail. But so what! Three days later, he was sitting with the Politico 2, giving them the thrilling impression that he had felt threatened. He continued this nonsense with Blitzer last night, quoting one piece of Sperling's e-mail completely out of context.
Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today.
This is very ugly stuff—ugly, stupid, inane, bizarre. Our question to you is this: How will the children react?
You know? Our mandarin climbers?
From his spot at the Washington Post, Greg Sargent has already offered a tortured attempt to say that Woodward might not have meant what they’re saying he said. But here’s the ultimate question:
Will Rachel Maddow address this topic tonight? In our view, Maddow has typically played her viewers for fools in such matters, pretending to challenge “the Beltway media” while persistently refusing to name or challenge any famous media players. In truth, Maddow has persistently feathered her nest by kissing the asses of big major players like Woodward.
What is Ezra going to say, especially if he guest-hosts? Where will Dylan Matthews come down? And what will you be hearing from Rachel? Steve Benen has already filed this lengthy post at Maddowblog. But will his boss speak up?
Intelligent liberals shouldn’t trust our mandarin climbers; we should persistently challenge them. This ridiculous incident gives us a chance to see what the children are made of.