National Journal chief: A senior WH official got so belligerent with me, I had to drop him as a source

posted at 3:21 pm on February 28, 2013 by Allahpundit

Woodward, Lanny Davis, and now Ron Fournier. How come it’s the older, more established D.C. hands who are piping up about being strongarmed by the White House and not the younger, less established ones? Is it because the young’uns have developed a thicker skin from being challenged more often? Because they’re small enough potatoes that Team Hopenchange doesn’t bother wasting much time yelling at them? Because Woodward and Fournier are better positioned career-wise to challenge the White House? Or because younger liberal journos are “team players” for The One in a way that older reporters simply aren’t?

Anyway. Another ray of sunshine:

I decided to share this encounter because it might shed light on the increasingly toxic relationship between media and government, which is why the Woodward flap matters outside the Beltway…

The official angered by my Woodward tweet sent me an indignant e-mail. “What’s next, a Nazi analogy?” the official wrote, chastising me for spreading “bull**** like that” I was not offended by the note, mild in comparison to past exchanges with this official. But it was the last straw in a relationship that had deteriorated.

As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Woodward called a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told…

Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote.

He ends, as did Woodward and as any indictment of White House boorishness evidently must as a matter of professional obligation, by noting that St. Barack would surely frown upon such treatment — even though Obama chooses to surround himself with people like Rahm Emanuel and Fournier’s source and he not-so-secretly disdains the media despite their adulation of him. Let’s pick a narrative, guys. Either (a) this sort of antagonism is wholly unremarkable for modern presidential administrations when dealing with the press behind the scenes, in which case there’s no reason to assume Obama doesn’t know or approve of it, or (b) it is remarkable in its nastiness, in which case either Obama’s a much nastier customer than thought or he’s lost control of his inner circle vis-a-vis media relations. Reason’s Mike Riggs spent some time today compiling stories from the past few years about Obama lackeys freaking out or even cutting off access over coverage that threw a little sand in the gears of their image-management machine. Is that normal for the White House in eras past, or is it so crucially important to the Celebrity Presidency that his aides are forced to get a bit rougher with reporters than usual? Only the media knows, but between the risks of losing access, harming their careers, and hurting “the cause,” they have little incentive to come clean. You need someone like Woodward or Fournier who’s well established and particularly pissed off to gain any insight. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for hints:

Woodward himself is now toning things down a bit, per Erik Wemple at WaPo:

Pressed moments ago on whether he’d ever used the term “threat” or “threatened” by the e-mail, Woodward responded, “No, I have not….I am uncomfortable because it is not the way to operate,” he said. When asked whether he felt there’d be payback on this front, Woodward declined to get into that matter.

But there already has been payback, not from the White House but more broadly from what Matt Welch labels Planet Liberalism. NBC’s now calling Woodward a “temporary spokesman” for one of the two major parties with not a hint of irony. Like Noah Rothman says, whether it’s Team O or just their fans in the media doing the dirty work, Woodward will end up regretting this.

Update: Via Josh Kraushaar, no threats, just a little reputational tear-down:

“Inside the West Wing, Woodward is viewed, one top Democrat said, as a “self-righteous kook,” while an administration official said he “has been going nuts for no good reason.”


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You need someone like Woodward or Fournier who’s well established and particularly pissed off to gain any insight.

I doubt this was the first time someone in Comrade O’s inner circle tried to bully and strong arm Woodward, or someone Woodward knows well. I doubt it was the first time someone from the admin yelled at Woodward, or someone Woodward knows well, over the phone for an extended period of time.

NBC’s now calling Woodward a “temporary spokesman” for one of the two major parties with not a hint of irony.

Woodward has always been a Republican operative. Didn’t you know that comrade? /Orwell

farsighted on February 28, 2013 at 6:34 PM

“This can’t be what Obama Uncle Joe Stalin wants.”

Fixed it for ya…

Seven Percent Solution on February 28, 2013 at 6:40 PM

“Inside the West Wing, Woodward is viewed, one top Democrat said, as a “self-righteous kook,” while an administration official said he “has been going nuts for no good reason.”

It’s called character assassination. Woodward is being personally attacked for complaining that one of Comrade O’s lackeys tried to bully him.

Note he didn’t even say Dear Leader was behind it or knew about it. On the contrary, he asserted Comrade O did not know about it. Yet for daring to publicly expose it and complain, he is now being personally attacked by the MSM propaganda machine and by WH operatives.

And we’re supposed to believe Woodward misread it all and is over reacting. Apparently not.

farsighted on February 28, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Marcus Traianus on February 28, 2013 at 4:08 PM

I liked this line from Ace.

“Apparently there was no threat, and yet the threat has been executed nevertheless.”

Spot on. Woodward claimed he was threatened. The reaction from the WH and its media mongrels was to personally attack Woodward, thereby validating Woodward’s claim that he was being threatened and would regret what he says.

farsighted on February 28, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Threats or no threats, 99% of the journalists are not doing
their job.

We (back in the day LOL) used to have at least a few investigative journalists
giving colonoscopies to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
There were always informants who led the reporters to stories.
They had to dig, but the stories were there. Especially when it
came to suspected corruption.

And then there were none.

My personal opinion is that Woodward and others should quit
whining about the White House threatening them and do their jobs.
Was Woodward worried about Nixon threatening him?

Amjean on February 28, 2013 at 7:42 PM

“Benefiting and hurting others are ways of exercising one’s power upon others; that is all one desires in such cases. One hurts those whom one wants to feel one’s power, for pain is a much more efficient means to that end than pleasure; pain always raises the question about its origin while pleasure is inclined to stop with itself without looking back. We benefit and show benevolence to those who are already dependent on us in some way (which means that they are used to thinking of us as causes); we want to increase their power because in that way we increase ours, or we want to show them how advantageous it is to be in our power; that way they will become more satisfied with their condition and more hostile to and willing to fight against the enemies of our power.”

-Nietzsche

mittens on February 28, 2013 at 8:08 PM

NBC’s now calling Woodward a “temporary spokesman” for one of the two major parties with not a hint of irony.

Woodward has always been a Republican operative. Didn’t you know that comrade? /Orwell

farsighted on February 28, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Don’t forget his book about the Evil CIA Director…can you say, “Deathbed”?

More than a few of today’s Democrat Media were inspired to get into the field by Woodward, especially after he was played by Leftist God Robert Redford in the movie.

If this were a lesser “reporter”, they wouldn’t be squealing like stuck pigs about this. But this dude has something like a dozen Pulitzer Prizes with his byline co-attached, has won every other major “journalism” award under the moon, and yet is now suddenly being castigated by his disciples when he dares to be Honest.

Del Dolemonte on February 28, 2013 at 11:46 PM

This thuggery starts at the top. Obama views everything through the lens of Alinsky. At his core, everything he does relates to gathering and exercising power. Evan as POTUS, he is looking to gather more power. And that power will be used to to address the grievances of his allies. Originally, the Alinsky method was to exercise power to equitably distribute resources. Obama has stretched that definition to include anyone friendly to Him.

How surprising is it then to see his minions acting like bullies? That’s all these people are! They acquire and use POWER in absolutely everything they do. I would not be at all surprised to hear stories of an Obamaton bullying his own family. That is how deeply the culture of power is embedded in Obama and, after years of emulating The One, his entire team. Look for more stories like this one.

Nice knee-caps you have there!

theosdad on March 1, 2013 at 6:43 AM

Bob Woodward will now get the 2013 version of the “Kenneth Starr” treatment. Woodward is finished.

olesparkie on March 1, 2013 at 7:33 AM

turfmann on February 28, 2013 at 3:48 PM
OhEssYouCowboys on February 28, 2013 at 3:55 PM
OhEssYouCowboys on February 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM
LegendHasIt on February 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Back in 2008-2009, HotAir commenter “TheBigOldDog” kept a running list and kept adding to it as new similarities came to light…

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — Santayana

* Speeches in stadiums filled with mesmerized, adoring audiences – Check
* An uninspiring background before meteoric rise – Check
* Creates his own new symbols of power – Check
* Associates with racists, hatemongers and violent radicals – Check
* A propaganda machine willing to show him only in the best possible light – Check
* Uses, “glorious leader” style Agitprop posters common in totalitarian nations – Check (see German campaign poster for example)
* Wants Secret Police force – Check
* Somebody powerful people think they can control – Check
* Often dismissed as a light-weight by his opponents – Check
* Seeks to replace God with the State – Check
* People adopting his name as their own – Check
* Inspires adoration art – Check
* Appropriates symbols of past German glory – Check
* Never plans on giving up power – Check (Obama to be president for the next “eight to 10 years”)
* A narcissistic megalomaniac – Check
* Brazenly Takes credit for other people’s accomplishments – Check
* Wants to build “youth” movement through Universal National State service – Check
* Acts as if in power before he is – Check
* Some followers believe him to be divine – Check
* Worshiped and aided greatly by the media – Check
* Has his own salute – Check
* Has thuggish supporters intimdating political opponents – Check
* Using the power of the State to silence critics – Check

TheBigOldDog on September 27, 2008 at 7:20 PM

That was all BEFORE Obama was elected.

Less than three months into Obama’s first term, the list had grown to also include:

* Songs written to glorify him performed by children – Check
* Takes control of large comapnies and the economy as a whole – Check
* Attacks the very business leaders who supported his rise once in power – Check

TheBigOldDog on April 1, 2009 at 7:43 PM

And about a year ago, on the post:

Finally: The Obama Spangled Banner
posted at 2:30 pm on March 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I added suggested that TheBigOldDog’s list should be ammended to now include:

Followers fly a flag with his image – Check

Pay attention to history, and see these flags.

If anyone thinks that couldn’t happen here… Think again.

ITguy on March 1, 2013 at 11:35 AM

He ends, as did Woodward and as any indictment of White House boorishness evidently must as a matter of professional obligation, by noting that St. Barack would surely frown upon such treatment

Just more proof that leftists are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

woodNfish on March 1, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Reporter may talk bravely about how they have been scolded and berated by the Obama administration and they just shrug it off. But if you believe that BS I have a bridge to sell you that’s very cheap. Obama stands there and lies like a rug and NOBODY asks one teensy weensy challenging question. As my grandma used to say—The proof is in the pudding.

Herb on March 1, 2013 at 4:48 PM

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