The veteran journalist has been telling print and television media outlets that a very senior person in President Barack Obama’s administration at the White House has threatened him prior to the publication of an opinion editorial he wrote for the Washington Post. The article said that the idea for the automatic spending cuts came from the president.
David Plouffe, a former senior adviser to Obama, and Lis Smith who is a former Obama campaign spokesperson, severely criticized the op-ed on Wednesday night.
In the heavily criticized article, Woodward claims that the White House has been dishonest about its function in the sequester. He wrote that President Obama has basically “moved the goal posts” via his own insistence that Republicans agree to new tax revenue as part of any replacement for the sequester. Woodward strongly states that that was not the deal Obama made.
Woodward claims that he was bullied via a verbal scolding in which he was yelled at for approximately a half-an-hour. Furthermore, he received an email that said he would regret publishing the article.
Though Woodward has refused to say which senior Obama official has been threatening him over his published opinions on the sequester, Ben Smith of BuzzFeed has stated that the Obama official with whom Woodward had the extremely tense interaction was White House Economic Council Gene Sperling.
The White House is downplaying the bullying of the Washington Post journalist by saying that there was no intent of being threatening to him. It also says that the email which was sent to Woodward was to apologize to the journalist for the previous phone call from which the accusations of a threat originated.
The debate has been between the Democrats and the Republicans regarding a plan to replace the sequester before the deadline on March 1. The Democrats state that the automatic cuts were of a mutual agreement with the Republicans and never supposed to be enacted which would make Obama’s demand for new money a logical option. However, the Republicans say the sequester was totally Obama’s idea and the any replacement of the sequester was to be cuts only.
Woodward’s siding with the Republicans on the issue has obviously not set well with Obama’s White House.
Bob Woodward was instrumental in the Watergate case against former President Richard M. Nixon which led to Nixon's resignation during his second term in office.