Veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward said he was threatened by a high ranking White House official in an attempt to stop him from writing a story charging President Barack Obama of having "moved the goal posts" in talks around the sequester deal.
Woodward's story, which was eventually published last weekend, charged President Barack Obama of having "moved the goal posts" in asking for new revenue through tax reform as a substitute to the looming automatic $85 billion sequester cuts expected to go into effect on Friday.
Woodward disclosed in an interview with Politico, an e-mail exchange between himself and top White House economic advisor Gene Sperling sparring over details on whether President Obama had indeed moved the goal posts. In the missive, also obtained by Politico, Sperling tells Woodward that he would "regret" making the claim.
"…I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post," said Sperling in the e-mail. "I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."
In an interview with CNN, Woodward, who didn't identify Sperling in that interview, said the statement was cause for concern.
"I mean, it makes me uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, 'you're going to regret doing something that you believe in,'" said Woodward. "And even though we don't look at it that way, you do look at it that way. And I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communication strategy – let's hope it's not a strategy but it's a tactic that somebody's employed, and said, 'look, we don't go around trying to say to reporters, if you, in an honest way, present something we don't like, that you know, you're going to regret this.' And just – it's Mickey Mouse."
In the meantime, as the debate rages over the pending sequester cuts, Gallup reported a poll on Wednesday showing that given a choice, a modest majority of Americans would tell their representatives in Congress to vote to pass legislation this week to prevent the sequestration.
The poll results show that 45 percent of Americans would rather their member of Congress vote against the sequestration while 37 percent would rather the automatic spending cuts take effect as planned. Along political lines, Democrats prefer avoiding sequestration, independents are more likely to support it, while Republican voters are divided on the question.
The data for the poll came from Gallup Daily tracking conducted Feb. 25-26. It noted that while Democratic leaders have a clear preference for avoiding sequestration, less than half of rank-and-file Democrats across America support the position, demonstrating that 19 percent of Democrats do not have an opinion on the sequester cuts.
Some 60 percent of Americans, however, said they were following news on the issue, very closely or somewhat closely.