The media universe is in a tizzy over the revelation that a White House official told Bob Woodward he would “regret” his coverage of the White House’s attempt to spin the sequestration debate. While I commend Bob Woodward’s coverage, which rings true given what my own Republican contacts have said, now that we know that Gene Sperling was the source for the quotation, and can read the email exchange, it is clear that the statement, while certainly regrettable, was not some ham-fisted attempt to intimidate Woodward.
I have known Gene Sperling for more than a decade, and interacted with him often. During 99 percent of our policy discussions, we have had opposing views, and I can remember him making the case to me that, “Kevin, you are wrong, and when you find out you are wrong, you are going to regret saying that.” It is his style of argument. As far as I can recall, I have never felt such regret, but I can say that Gene is an old-fashioned, honorable and generous man who speaks directly and truthfully. There are plenty of thugs in this town, but he is not one.
The fact is, the media is for the most part wildly biased in favor of this White House, but that is likely because many reporters covering the White House share the White House’s views, not because of scare tactics. The story that there is blatant intimidation going on will likely be fed by this exchange, but it should not be.