Not news: White House threatens journalist

Marc Ambinder
The Week

Two things for you to know: I have been regularly threatened by the White House. That's one. Two: I am not Bob Woodward. 

Woodward says that a senior administration official e-mailed me to say he'd "regret" propagating the story that the sequester was President Obama's idea and that more revenues were not part of the original plan. Woodward's contention that Obama "moved the goalposts" has suddenly catalyzed Republicans to try and blame the president for this contraption. 

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The White House, in turn, has called the sequester an idea intended to avoid itself. That's a bit of a mind-bending thought.

But both Woodward and the White House are correct. The sequester idea came from the White House.

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And — everyone who worked on it knew that it was a place holder for a political decision that the American people would make in the 2012 elections. Republicans would cut more spending and Democrats would raise more taxes.

Now, to the threats.

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The White House threatens reporters. A lot. It is sort of a humblebrag to say that people with titles as lofty as "Assistant to the President" and with titles as lowly as "deputy press secretary" have used the F-word in conversations with me. Both White House officials and journalists tend to be arrogant and self-referential, and there is a lot of healthy and sometimes unhealthy tension on the job. We yell at each other, and we butt heads, and we live to work another day. 

Threats about cutting off access are fairly routine. 

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Just not if you're Bob Woodward and used to deference.

I suppose there was a time in Woodward's career when he would not have taken offense to being bluntly told that he would regret having written something. That time has passed. 

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It is rather odd that he would interpret the threat as something sinister.

But maybe, in the short time I've been away from Washington, the tone of discourse has changed. 

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