Woodward’s Sequester Spat With The White House (TIMELINE)

Veteran Washington journalist Bob Woodward ignited a firestorm last week when he published an article in the Washington Post claiming the sequester deal stipulated it could only be replaced via spending cuts. Since then, Woodward has been making the rounds on cable television, defending his reporting. Here’s how the story has played out over the past several days.

Friday, Feb. 22:

Woodward’s article went live on the Washington Post’s website. In the following hours, Republicans trumpeted Woodward’s piece as proof that the sequester must be avoided with spending cuts.

Saturday, Feb. 23:

White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to the article, calling Woodward’s assertion “willfully wrong.” 


7:05 a.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 27:

Woodward appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” calling President Obama’s decision not to send an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf because of the looming defense cuts “a kind of madness.”

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?'” Woodward said. “Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not gonna invade Iraq, because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need?’ Or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters’ — as he did when Clinton was President — because of some budget document? Under the Constitution, the President is Commander in Chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out, because of this piece of paper and this agreement, I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country. That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”


6:35 p.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 27:

Woodward stopped by CNN’s studios to reveal another detail of the dustup: a White House official sent Woodward an email claiming he would “regret” his sequester claim. 


8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 27:

Politico published a sit down interview with Woodward in his Georgetown home. During the interview, Woodward read from the email from the White House official, but didn’t mention him by name. The official began the email by apologizing for raising his voice in an earlier conversation. He then said Woodward would “regret” his sequester assertion. 

Watch the Politico interview: 

10 p.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 27:

TPM and BuzzFeed reported that the White House official in question was economic adviser Gene Sperling. A White House official told TPM that “of course no threat was intended.” 

Thursday, Feb. 28:

Politico has posted the emails between Sperling and Woodward. “I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim,” Sperling said in his email. 

Woodward responded by saying he welcomes “a little heat” from the White House. “I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening,” he added.

Read the full emails here

This post has been updated.

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