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Bob Woodward makes his case to FOX News
Journalist Bob Woodward has injected himself into the sequestration debate, first by penning a grossly inaccurate piece claiming that the idea of massive, automatic spending cuts was an idea generated in the White House and now, by alleging that the White House threatened him when White House Economic Council director Gene Sperling sent Woodward a polite email "as a friend" about the potential damage to Woodward's reputation if he staked out that erroneous claim.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times:

Can Robert Redford unportray him, or star in a sequel titled “All the president’s crybabies”?
For more fallout and reasons why yes, Woodward should regret making that false sequestration claim, jump below the fold.
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Christine Haughney and Brian Stelter at The New York Times:

[I]n the worlds of politics and journalism, a consensus was forming around the suggestion — supported by people close to the White House — that Mr. Woodward had overreacted.

“Arguing with press aides and senior officials” might as well be part of the job description for White House correspondents. [...] Other veteran reporters said on Thursday, in essence, “We’ve heard worse.” Major Garrett, the chief White House correspondent for CBS, said that he thought the flare-up was “a completely ridiculous story” and that conflict came with the White House beat. “Every reporter knows when a source is angry about something you’re working on, you’re on the right track,” he said. “Just get on with it.”

Jake Tapper, who recently joined CNN from ABC, where he covered the White House, recalled unpleasant conversations with both Republicans and Democrats and called it part of the job. “In my experience,” he said, “neither side has had a premium on tones that may not be soothing, or words that may not be suitable for children.”

Adam Clark Estes at The Atlantic breaks down Woodward's Hannity appearance during which Woodward didn't back off of his White House attacks:
Woodward rounded out his Hannity appearance by saying that the word "regret" was "coded" to mean "you better watch out."

This is where that shoveling coal into the stove metaphor comes in. Woodward just won't let this fire die. He was so close! The Washington establishment had audibly groaned at the Politico story that called Sperling's email a threat and challenged Woodward's interpretation of the events. He even said, "I  never characterized it as a 'threat.'"

Well, Bob, what do you think people hear when you say Sperling's wording was code for "you better watch out?" To awkwardly extend that coal stove metaphor, Woodward is really smearing soot on his face at this point. But from a conservative's point of view it might as well be war paint. Woodward secured his status as the right's new hero when he told Hannity on Thursday night, "I get calls and e-mails from people telling me I'm insane to come on your show. I say, now, wait a minute, you let me say what I want." He added. "You dig into things."

Jonathan Chait has a must-read piece:
To reconcile Woodward’s journalistic reputation with the weird pettiness of his current role, one has to grasp the distinction between his abilities as a reporter and his abilities as an analyst. Woodward was, and remains, an elite gatherer of facts. But anybody who has seen him commit acts of political commentary on television has witnessed a painful spectacle. As an analyst, Woodward is a particular kind of awful — a Georgetown Wise Man reliably and almost invariably mouthing the conventional wisdom of the Washington Establishment.
Meanwhile, lost in all the silliness is that, yes, Woodward's claim about the White House "moving the goalposts" was in fact grossly inaccurate.

Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein at The Washington Post detail five myths about sequestration. Their top one? The one perpetuated by Bob Woodward:

In our view, what happened is quite straightforward: In 2011, House Republican leaders used their new majority to force their priorities on the Democratically controlled Senate and the president by holding the debt limit hostage to demands for deep and immediate spending cuts. After negotiations between Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner failed (Eric Cantor recently took credit for scuttling a deal), the parties at the eleventh hour settled on a two-part solution: immediate discretionary spending caps that would result in cuts of almost $1 trillion over 10 years; and the creation of a “supercommittee” tasked with reducing the 2012-2021 deficit by another $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion. If the supercommittee didn’t broker a deal, automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next decade — the sequester — would go into effect. The sequester was designed to be so potentially destructive that the supercommittee would surely reach a deal to avert it.

The sequester’s origins can’t be blamed on one person — or one party. Republicans insisted on a trigger for automatic cuts; Jack Lew, then the White House budget director, suggested the specifics, modeled after a sequester-like mechanism Congress used in the 1980s, but with automatic tax increases added. Republicans rejected the latter but, at the time, took credit for the rest. Obama took the deal to get a debt-ceiling increase. But the president never accepted the prospect that the sequester would occur, nor did he ever agree to take tax increases off the table.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast:
[I am] baffled, quite frankly, about Woodward's grasp of very basic facts. [...] Obama said in November 2011 exactly what he said for the next year, and exactly what he is saying today! Those goal posts are now looking more and more stationary, aren't they?

The notion that the supercommittee was the only place where revenues could be discussed is so wrong that it really makes me wonder how intelligent Bob Woodward is.

Matthew O'Brien at The Atlantic:
It's worth remembering why President Obama and Republicans created the sequester in the first place. Back in 2011, Republicans refused to lift the debt ceiling without an equivalent amount of long-term deficit reduction. After flirting with a voluntary default on our obligations, if not our debt, the two sides reached a three-part deal. They 1) lifted the debt ceiling, 2) agreed on $900 billion of cuts over the next decade, and 3) agreed to agree to at least $1.2 trillion of further savings. They set up a bipartisan, bicameral "supercommittee" to find these savings, and set up the sequester as a fallback plan in case the supercommittee failed. The idea was the sequester cuts were so onerous and indiscriminate that both sides would have to come together. In other words, blackmail themselves into reaching a deal. It didn't work.
Anson Kaye at US News & Wold Report analyzes supposed liberal media bias:
mpugning the motives of those we've entrusted with separating fiction from fact has proven an effective strategy for the right. Don't agree with a judicial decision? Blame the "activist" judge. Think an academic paper might be damaging to your cause? No worries. Academia is "liberal" and "elitist." Worried that global warming might prove nettlesome? It's the product of scientists harboring a "hidden agenda."

And today a news media that might otherwise be making reasoned judgments about what's news and what isn't has become so cowed by conservative complaints that just about any allegation, no matter how outlandish, must receive "equal time." Donald Trump's birther claims are a terrific example. Trump has all the credibility of a squirrel monkey. And the charges he mounted in 2011 were completely bereft of anything resembling a fact. Yet when he was pressing his "questions" about the president's place of birth, the media felt compelled to put him on the air in an endless loop, and to book guests to argue "both sides" of the "controversy." Ridiculous.

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