And the WH hatchet man was …

posted at 8:01 am on February 28, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

… Gene Sperling, at least according to BuzzFeed’s source with access to the e-mail conversation between Bob Woodward and whoever “threatened” him.  As hatchet men go, a director of the White House Economic Council is an odd choice.  Isn’t this the kind of thing Rahm Emanuel used to handle?

The White House official whom Bob Woodward charged had crosssed a line by saying he would “regret” printing his version of a set of Washington negotiations was Gene Sperling, the director of the White House Economic Council, a source familiar with the exchange told BuzzFeed Wednesday.

The email from Sperling to Woodward, which Woodward read to PoliticoWednesday, has transfixed Washington, with Republicans and some in the press charging that it embodies a White House lording it over a cowed press corps.

Woodward, Politico reported, called the top official — identified to BuzzFeed as Sperling — to tell him that he would question Obama’s account of negotiations leading to the “sequester” — automatic cuts set to take effect next month.

The aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward said, and then sent a follow-up email that read, in part: “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

So who exactly is Sperling, and why is he so frightening?

Sperling, a former aide to Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who held the same position in Clinton’s second term, is a veteran Democratic budget wonk and party insider. Remarked one friend Wednesday, he is “not exactly cut from the classic, no-drama Obama cloth.”

What cloth would that be?  The Rahm Emanuel-David Axelrod-Joe Biden-”War on Wimmenses” cloth?  Sounds to me like Sperling fits right in at the club.

I’m not sure I buy that conversation as a “threat,” but Woodward’s later point is well taken.  A less-heralded reporter certainly would have cause to worry, which the Obamasphere made clear when they began throwing the Hero of Watergate under the bus for daring to criticize The One.  Woodward will come out unscathed; I’m not so sure his critics will have the same outcome.


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