Such ominous remarks coming from the president's economic adviser are meant to intimidate. Reporters -- even one as famous as Woodward -- need access to pursue stories. And if a top White House official lets it be known that a reporter is persona non grata in the White House, the message goes out to others not to talk.
Worse, it is an example of this White House's imperious style -- one that hearkens back to another presidency with which Bob Woodward is all too familiar.
Woodward became a national figure as a young man reporting on the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. Woodward's bestselling book, "All the President's Men," is a chilling account of what happens when the people surrounding the president decide that protecting their boss is more important than upholding the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, which each of them takes.
In the case of the Nixon White House, the corruption emanated from the Oval Office. Woodward is not accusing President Obama of directing his men (and they are mostly men) to try to squelch legitimate journalistic inquiry -- but if the president is not at fault, he has an obligation to clear the record. And Obama is doing just the opposite.
In the days leading up to the automatic cuts, the president has been out campaigning against Republicans, laying on their shoulders full blame for failing to reach a deal. But it is the president who has rewritten the terms of the agreement reached in 2011.
Sperling's threat against a senior journalist was not made in a vacuum: It is an attempt to cover up the president's own dissembling. The only cure is for the president to admit his misstatements and hold accountable those who would flaunt their power to keep the truth from emerging.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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