Morning Joe | February 28, 2013
>> all right. good morning. it's thursday, february 28th . welcome to " morning joe ."
>> i'm mad.
>> why are you mad?
>> i'm mad.
>> oh lord.
>> are we going to do that?
>> host of " mad money ," jim cramer .
>> he's on his way.
>> what do you mean?
>> he was hosting a show. things he does.
>> who else do we have here?
>> in washington chief foreign affairs --
>> look at you. i'm too busy to be here on time. so rude.
>> i was in the back making mini doughnuts.
>> chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of " andrea mitchell reports," andrea mitchell along with willie , joe and me. that's a green shirt, willie .
>> it's my sequester shirt.
>> it's not easy being green .
>> sequester eve shirt.
>> he always wears that 17 days before. do you see what the white house is doing to bob woodward ?
>> we'll get to that.
>> let's just stop. they are threatening bob woodward .
>> i'll do the story. i know you're worried. you are scared that i won't do it so you have so steam roll in. i swear i'll do the story.
>> i find it fascinating that they will do what the nixon white house did to bob woodward wondering if it will work out for them. this is bob woodward . i think it shows how little they've been criticized. how thin skinned they are. just how they really do think they play by different rules than every other white house ever.
>> had the privilege of being within five feet of him while interviewing being shot down by "the washington post ." i wanted him to tell me i wasn't good enough. i don't think that much has changed.
>> i don't think it has either. we'll see. i didn't mean to steam roll you, mika. i was excited.
>> i thought you would think i would skip it. you don't trust me to tell the story.
>> i'm curious what the white house is thinking about it.
>> i'll tell you. also coming up, some testimony on capitol hill on gun legislation that will bring you back to the day newtown happened. it's incredible. we'll have that coming up. a father speaks and an e.r. doctor. first, joe , the back and forth between the white house and journalist bob woodward over who came up with the idea of sequestration. woodward says a top administration official warned him in an e-mail that he would "regret" writing a story that says the proposal --
>> i'm sorry. where do these people come from? is burt lance running the white house ?
>> at least they talk to the press and are not afraid.
>> is burt lance running the white house ? someone is threatening bob woodward ?
>> it's like the conclave. okay.
>> do you want me to keep going?
>> they threatened -- so the white house threatened bob woodward and said you would regret writing a story. go ahead. go ahead. that's fascinating.
>> for writing a story that talked about the proposal for the automatic spending cuts and where it originated from and that would be from within the president's inner circle .
>> it makes me very uncomfortable to have the white house telling reporters you're going to regret doing something that you believe in 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 communications strategy, let's hope it's not a strategy -- that it's a tactic that someone has employed saying, 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.
>> how do you think --
>> it's mickey mouse .
>> it is mickey mouse . it is especially doing it to bob woodward . i think this also -- if you don't mind me saying so -- i think mark, it shows that if you want access you'll regret this. we've never had that. great relationships with everybody inside the white house . i don't know if anybody knows but i criticize them quite regularly.
>> i did not know that.
>> any way, this is fascinating that somebody would threaten bob woodward inside the white house .
>> bob makes a good point. he can handle this and laugh it off and analyze it. a lot of reporters even as bob said if you covered it for ten years, can be intimidated when a white house official says that. there's a psychological component and practical component. we should say although this white house apparently has a history of doing this, the previous white house did as well. the bush white house regularly would engage in the same kind of tactics and it's part of the long-term unfortunately loss of influence and stature that news organizations and reporters have in general. it's important in a free democracy to have reporters strong enough to stand up to the white house and not be intimidated and bob is making a great point, which is in this case he's not going to be intimidated but we have to be worried they will try to intimidate other people. it's just not good for the country.
>> it's not. this happens in every white house . mika, i remember this happening. i'm not going to tell the story on air specifically but i remember a story with the bush white house calling me up and threatening me. it was really a bad, bad mistake.
>> you annoyed them.
>> i ran the story every night for two weeks. i did it specifically to show them you call me again -- they called in the middle of the show and demanded that my executive producer take something down. our executive producer a ways back started to take it down, i said if you take it down, i'm going fire you. we're doing this story for two weeks. they never did it again. and that happens. i think what makes this story so fascinating is that it is bob woodward that we're talking about.
>> you're going to regret doing this segment, joe .
>> for a lot of reporters, willie , your dad worked at the "times" and you have grown up around "times" reporters, that's at least to me -- that's the exact wrong tact to take. i will keep going until i am fired. i will not let go. and so many other reporters are that way as well. it's just a stupid thing to do especially when you do it to bob woodward .
>> i do agree with a young reporter with the white house . this isn't a backbencher. if they say you will regret this, there are reporters that think about their career. they think about their access to the white house and that could shut down a story and i'm sure it does in ways we don't always see. i didn't read it the way bob laid it out. i didn't read it as a threat against him. they were saying you'll regret this because you're reporting in the end will turn out to be wrong. they picked the wrong guy to do it to.
>> the bigger picture, andrea mitchell , it's a side show to the battle to what they may have been on the right side of.
>> woodward is correct in saying the real danger is that this is intimidating to reporters who are not bob woodward . no one better known in journalism for investigative work than bob woodward and the fact that he's done it for so many decades. i recall back when i was a young reporter in the reagan white house and i had good sources and good relationships, but there was a chief of staff named don regan and ever i reported something on iran-contra, he called me and threatened me and said you're going to regret this but said it in far worse terms and using profane language and as a young journalist, i feared for my career. he said he could get me. i would be fired. he would get to nbc. of course that didn't happen.
>> thank you, don regan . what a shock. i never would have imagined that coming from don regan .
>> how could that have happened? the bottom line is the white house has to be able to take criticism and not be so aggressive in pushing back because in fact frankly there isn't enough tough reporting in washington these days.
>> also to this thing that plouffe came out comparing bob woodward to an old ageing baseball star. what did he say exactly?
>> let me go through the white house response here. a white house official tells reuters that the official was not intending to threaten woodward and there's a statement that reads in part the e-mail from the aide was sent to apologize for voices being raised in their previous conversation. the note suggested that mr. woodward would regret the observation he made regarding the sequester because that observation was inaccurate, nothing more. former obama adviser david plouffe took to twitter writing watching woodward last two days is like imagining my idol mike schmidt facing live pitching again. perfection gained once is rarely repeated.
>> if bob woodward was this weak and old as he's suggesting, the white house wouldn't be threatening him and they wouldn't be howling the way they are. this is just childish. it's a sort of childish attack you don't expect coming from these people.
>> is it possible that they didn't follow watergate? they don't know all of the president's men? they don't know the history? is it possible they are ignorant of the greatness of this man that defined journalism? is it possible?
>> a guy that keeps breaking stories. broke stories first in afghanistan. breaking stories as we move forward. listen, let's get to the bottom line here. they caught the white house in the lie. at the end of the day , they are kicking back. it's stupid. i'll say it. this is stupid. they got caught in a lie and instead of saying we screwed up, they are trying to attack the guy that revealed the lie. when the president said i had nothing to do with the sequester and of course woodward specifically got them to back down.
>> great for bob to have done that absolutely. it's embarrassing that none of the rest of us were as aggressive as he was. he did a great job. ann was brilliant and when i first covered the white house she was there for the post. she taught me that you can't back down. if you're going to be a reporter for a major news organization at the white house , you can't back down and intimidate efforts like that. plouffe's tweet to intimidate bob or make fun of bob is not a winning hand for them. the underlying cause for this was bob pointing out the president trying to say he wasn't present at the start of the sequester when his administration brought it and signed it into law.
>> what would happen if someone insulted you and you didn't notice.
>> it would be stunning.
>> the opposite of love is not hate. the opposite of love as willie geist wrote is indifference.
>> indifference hurts more.
>> you fit that on a tiny, candy heart.