A "Threat"? Really?

Carol Platt Liebau

2/28/2013 9:14:57 AM - Carol Platt Liebau

Last night, after Bob Woodward's account of a "very senior person" at The White House who "threatened" him, I guessed that it was Valerie Jarrett, given her history of excoriating and bullying the President's critics.

Turns out I was wrong -- the person was Gene Sperling, who has, it seems, given Politico his email to Bob Woodward, upon which Woodward based his charge of being threatened.  Although I appreciate Woodward's all-too-rare willingness to state truths the Obama White House finds unpleasant, I've got to say that -- given the context -- it's hard to characterize what Sperling said to Woodward as a "threat."  Here is the comment from Sperling to Woodward, in context:

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. 

Perhaps to Woodward, that felt like a threat -- who knows? But it strikes me that there is enough true ugliness going on with this White House that no one needs to take comments out of context in order to find them.

As my post last night set out, this White House has repeatedly displayed a pattern of bullying dissenters, or deploying its surrogates to do so (as demonstrated by this snippy tweet from David Plouffe).  No doubt there are plenty of stories here for reporters to tell . . . but they're undercut when a reporter manifests oversensitivity to one particular comment and generates media attention because of it.