“You will regret staking out that claim”

Ron Fournier has a similar story to Bob Woodward’s:

Carney isn’t the first press secretary to criticize a reporter. Presidential aides do it all the time to set the record straight or — often, more cynically — to dodge accountability. I was struck by the fact that Carney’s target has a particular history with White House attacks. I tweeted: “Obama White House: Woodward is ‘willfully wrong.’ Huh-what did Nixon White House have to say about Woodward?” Reporting by Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered Watergate misdeeds and led to the resignation of President Nixon. My tweet was not intended to compare Nixon to Obama (there is no reason to doubt Obama’s integrity — period) but rather to compare the attack to the press strategies of all the presidents’ men.

I had angered the White House, particularly a senior White House official who I am unable to identify because I promised the person anonymity. Going back to my first political beat, covering Bill Clinton’s administration in Arkansas and later in Washington, I’ve had a practice that is fairly common in journalism: A handful of sources I deal with regularly are granted blanket anonymity. Any time we communicate, they know I am prepared to report the information at will (matters of fact, not spin or opinion) and that I will not attribute it to them. This is an important way to build a transparent and productive relationship between reporters and the people they cover. Nothing chills a conversation faster than saying, “I’m quoting you on this.”

The official angered by my Woodward tweet sent me an indignant e-mail. “What’s next, a Nazi analogy?” the official wrote, chastising me for spreading “bull**** like that” I was not offended by the note, mild in comparison to past exchanges with this official. But it was the last straw in a relationship that had deteriorated. As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Woodward called a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told.

Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote. I wrote back: “I asked you to stop e-mailing me. All future e-mails from you will be on the record — publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you. My cell-phone number is … . If you should decide you have anything constructive to share, you can try to reach me by phone. All of our conversations will also be on the record, publishable at my discretion and directly attributed to you.” I haven’t heard back from the official.

How many stories like this are there among senior political reporters? Probably a lot. To be fair, the administration has had to date every reasonable expectation that they could control the media, since they’ve been so successful at it for so long. But the details are unpleasant and revealing: vulgar bullies, craven reporters. (Note Fournier’s backhanded denial that the fish rots from the head.) HT: Breitbart

One Response to ““You will regret staking out that claim””

  1. Neil Says:

    If it means anything at all, it means that the media won’t be dragging the Democrats across the finish line with such gusto in 2014.

    But I’m not sure how much real political influence the media has anymore, so it may not mean anything at all.

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