Bob Woodward (of Woodward and Bernstein fame who broke Watergate) was threatened by a Senior Obama White House Official, Director of White House Economic Council Gene Sperling, over a story Woodward plans to run tagging Obama as the originator of the Sequester Cuts.
“Officials often threaten reporters that they will “regret” printing something that is untrue, but Woodward took the remark as a threat.”
Apparently they are right! Remember last year when Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatened to punch a reporter?
“After being questioned about a major wild horse buyer who is under federal investigation and with whom he has business ties, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Interior Ken Salazar threatened to punch a reporter allegedly.
KKCO aired a clip of the exchange between Salazar and reporter Dave Philipps of The Colorado Springs Gazette at an election-day rally in Fountain, Colo.
“You know what. You can never do that. This is the Obama … You know what. You do that to me again. I’m gonna punch you out.”
Or maybe it’s just the Obama administration that threatens reporters. I don’t remember any stories of the Bush 41, Clinton or GW Bush White Houses threatening reporters …..but I digress.
The State Run Media (SRM) appears to be taking several tactics to diffuse this Woodward situation – 1) say it happens all the time, 2) ignore/deny it or 3) discredit Woodward.
It’s predictable that Media Matters for America Eric Boehlert did all three on Twitter:
Woodward is no rookie reporter and he’s definitely no Right Wing blogger so there is no reason for him to make up this accusation. A man who was on the front lines of Watergate will not be intimidated nor will he neglect his journalistic integrity (and there are few out there who can match Woodward’s). If Woodward says he was threatened then the man’s reputation precedes him and we must take it at face value until further evidence contradicts his story.
I asked BuzzFeedAndrew if he was really serious that this sort of intimidation happens all the time.
There are two things that disturb me about the ‘it happens all the time’ defense.
First, I think that is a lie because if the Bush WH had said the same thing to reporters then the SRM would’ve pounced on Bush and rapidly come to the defense of the reporter. Can you imagine the reaction if a senior official from the George W. Bush White House would’ve said this same comment to Woodward 10 years ago? SRM would’ve pounced and it would be the lead story for weeks!
Second, if reporters are routinely intimidated by White House officials then this needs to be reported more often and stopped. Are there ‘journalists’ out there who have had similar treatment and remained silent? How do they live with themselves? There used to be a time when journalists would wish for an elected official’s administration to threaten them. They could break a story wide open and maybe even win awards.
If we have come to the point where the White House intimidates reporters from writing stories detrimental to the President then we are no better than Cold War Soviet Union. Without an independent 4th Estate doing their jobs then we are vulnerable to an Executive branch that can violate the Constitution and take away our Freedoms.
This is very troubling and let’s watch how other ‘journalists’ react to this obvious attempt of intimidation of Woodward.