Bob Woodward’s charge that he was threatened by a high-ranking Obama administration official after publishing a column critical of the White House was, it turns out, at least somewhat exaggerated. But it’s no accident that the media has chosen to focus on Woodward’s characterization of his exchange with White House economic director Gene Sperling, while all but ignoring the essence of the column that touched off the brouhaha in the first place: that Obama’s claims about Republican responsibility for the looming sequester were false, and that it was “months of White House dissembling” that had “eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans.”
Indeed, the media treatment of the episode provides an all-too-telling glimpse into the administration’s relationship with the press. It hardly bears repeating that from the start of Barack Obama’s career on the national stage, he has enjoyed an unprecedented kinship with the media—one that, as frustrated opponents rightly observe, often seems indistinguishable from outright alliance. On contentious issues like those involving the budget, especially, the administration has been hugely dependent on a compliant press—not only to shore up public support for its ongoing campaign of class warfare, but also to marginalize competing arguments.