The ‘code’ that only Woodward can break


Since I mentioned Bob Woodward’s increasingly erratic behavior yesterday, it’s only fair to close the loop and note his comments last night on Fox News. (Woodward was the opening act for Ann Coulter on Sean Hannity’s show. Insert joke about “how the mighty have fallen” here.)

For those who can’t watch clips online, there was some good news and some bad news in the interview. On the former, Woodward initially appeared to backpedal a bit on the nature of his complaint against Gene Sperling, telling Hannity, “[Y[ou know, people have said, well, this was a threat or I was saying it was a threat. I haven’t used that language.”

Woodward made clear to Politico and CNN that he saw Sperling’s email as a veiled threat, but if he’s now prepared to move away from the claim, I’m glad.

But by the end of the interview, the Washington Post reporter couldn’t leave well enough alone. He argued on Fox News:

“[Sperling] says, I’m going to ‘regret,’ you know, that’s – that goes into the coded, you know, ‘you better watch out.’”

Oh for crying out loud.

Look, this really isn’t complicated. As we’ve discussed, last week, after their phone conversation got a little heated, Sperling emailed Woodward directly and said, “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today…. But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Sperling added in his email, “I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously. My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.”

Even now, after having a week to think about this and reflect on the exchange, Woodward is still convinced Sterling was speaking in “code,” trying send a subtle “you better watch out” message.

And this is why it seems something has gone very wrong with Bob Woodward.

There is no code. There is no secret message. There was no between-the-lines threat. Woodward was advancing an argument with factual inaccuracies and Sperling told him “as a friend” that he will “regret” the embarrassment that comes with getting a big story wrong.

That Woodward feels the need to run to Fox News, of all places, to argue once again that a White House staffer sent him a “coded” threat is just sad, and unbecoming of a journalistic giant.

Woodward fell in a ditch. Why he wants to keep digging is a mystery.

Bob Woodward

The 'code' that only Woodward can break