It comes from John Cassidy, the economics and politics writer for the New Yorker, who doesn't grind axes, who -- like all writers at the New Yorker -- knows every damn thing in his column must go through a notoriously rigorous fact check.
It was Bob Woodward who verified that the sequester idea came from Jacob Lew. That's been the accepted fact at this blog for a while. As Cassidy points out, the sequester was warmly embraced by Republicans and voted for by Republicans. So Woodward was right about that, as most of us have been saying.
Cassidy then goes on to comment on the latest Woodward statements which are patently untrue, not to say nuts. In all this kerfuffle about getting threats from the White House here's what has emerged, what you can take to whatever bank or mattress you use:
... It’s equally obvious that Woodward was the one who erred. The White House was clear all along that, when it came to replacing the sequester, it would demand a balanced package of spending cuts and revenue increases. In signing the legislation that put the sequester in place, Obama said, “This compromise requires that both parties work together on a larger plan to cut the deficit, which is important for the long-term health of our economy. And since you can’t close the deficit with just spending cuts, we’ll need a balanced approach where everything is on the table.”
Woodward’s determination to accuse Obama of shifting ground prompted Sperling to remark that he would regret making such a claim. In a subsequent interview with two reporters from Politico, Woodward portrayed this statement as a threat, remarking, “You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate.” But the full text of Sperling’s e-mail, eventually revealed by Politico, hardly supports such an interpretation. ...Cassidy, New Yorker
Take a look at the "threatening" email over at Politico. It was hardly threatening. Friendly and bland, it is backed up by fact. Cassidy continues:
For all his faults, Woodward is an industrious reporter, who, at the age of sixty-nine, is still out there conducting interviews and taking notes. In any dispute between the White House and a journalist, my first instinct is to support the latter. In trying to discredit stories and books it doesn’t like, and the writers responsible for them, this Administration, like many before it, has showed itself capable of acting ruthlessly and callously. Woodward isn’t just any reporter, though, and on this occasion he opened himself up to ridicule. Going forward, perhaps he should stick to reported articles and books, which presumably get edited and fact-checked, and leave the op-eds and interviews with Politico to the subjects of his stories. ...Cassidy, New Yorker
I think Cassidy is being fairer than anyone I've read on either side of this silly issue, including myself. Given half a chance, I'd shout at Woodward over the phone. But that's because I really don't like spotlight-grabbing old farts like Woodward. There's stuff going on -- stuff issuing from Washington in the form of more economic punishment foisted on us by a Republican party that (as most Americans now realize) don't care about anyone or anything but themselves. Woodward's attention, too, is firmly directed at "moi." He's all about Bob Woodward. Otherwise he'd think twice about stirring up even more junk.