Morning Joe | February 28, 2013
>> we're getting interesting --
>> we're getting e-mails from the white house . what are they telling me ?n
>> they are saying no threat was intended and are pushing back hard. several people within the white house .
>> we have the executive editor of political, jim vandehei . you and mike allen go over to bob woodward 's house in georgetown yesterday.
>> was that cool? i bet that was cool.
>> it was pretty cool. nice house.
>> you have the piece up on the site right now. woodward at war. summarize what bob woodward 's take on the whole back and forth with the white house is.
>> he feels like there was a threat by the white house when he decided he was going to write a column calling into question the president's contention that sequestration was sort of the brain child of the republican party . in his book he makes pretty clear and our sources confirm that it was actually an idea that originated in the white house . when he wanted to do a column about this in the "post" the white house didn't want it out there. they called. a senior aide yelled at him for 30 minutes and shot him an e-mail. he pulled out the e-mail and read it to us. it says you're going to regret staking out this claim. what the white house says is you'll regret being wrong on this claim and not regret that we'll take retaliatory action for you writing this column. woodward saw it differently. he's been in the middle of these things for many, many years.
>> and this is what politico actually says. woodward repeated that he saw it as a threat. you'll regret. come on, he said. i think if obama saw the way they are dealing with some of this he would say you don't tell the reporter you will regret challenging us.
>> bob woodward is obviously an icon in our industry. the contention from inside the white house is that the person that he was talking to, the conversation being taken out of context and he's unjustifiable maligned.
>> i heard that from the white house as well. we're writing what bob woodward 's position was and white house went on the record saying what their position was on it. it's an interesting piece of intrigue. it's interesting more about the origin of sequestration. i think the reason woodward is under the white house 's skin is that his reporting does show that sequestration set to hit tomorrow, one of the silliest ideas that washington has come up with in a decade that it --
>> what's it being called now? what's it being called again? i said birthday cake.
>> dave rogers calls it the dooms day budget machine.
>> if you cannot use that s word and call it the dooms day budget machine. dbm.
>> david is more poetic than most congressional staffers. he's able to come up with a term that apply describes what it is. the reason they came up with it is because washington can't do its job so they came up with a mechanism that would force them to cut spending knowing they wouldn't want to cut the programs that are outlined in sequestration. they thought they would never actually go through with it. it turns out they can't get a deal. they're going to go through with it and do something that both sides for the most part think is a pretty stupid thing to do and the idea did originate from the white house in the middle of these controversial negotiations about how do we get spending cuts that happened several years ago outlined in detail in woodward 's book and was overlooked until recently when people try to point fingers at who is to blame for the mess we're in today.
>> why did bob woodward feel it was important to go public with this. you have back and forths in media. you right something. voices are raised. you scream at each other. it doesn't escalate to this level. why did he want to make this a public situation?
>> we talked to bob about that. he said one of the things that concerns him is just this era where we have so much happening on cable and on the internet that people don't seem to care about facts anymore and reporting and he feels like if you want to have a vibrant free press and you have a white house trying to sbintimidate reporters, he says i've been around forever. i won't be intimidated but imagine young reporters here only a couple years, they can be intimidated. he got it out there because it's not a tactic the president himself would appreciate and certainly he at a personal level didn't appreciate. my take on it -- i've been doing this 20 years -- press secretary's job is to get in our face and brush it aside and write what we need to write and not care if someone in the white house is huffing and puffing or if someone on capitol hill is huffing and puffing.
>> the word threat is serious.
>> we get threatened all the time. i'm sorry. maybe viewers don't know it but we are threatened all the time.
>> you hang up your phone and say i'm going to write the story now. if he's going to come forward and say he was threatened, that's taking it to a whole new level. the question is -- i'm sure bob as a journalist would appreciate being questioned on this -- was it really a threat? a serious one in the definition of the word that you feel like you have to announce to the world. that's totally different.
>> bob has been around since the early '70s doing this time of work. he understands when veil threats are made and when they're not. threats are just part of the game . the problem really comes when you're a young journalist like you when you were first covering the hill. let's say the speaker went up to you and said if you write this story, we'll cut you off. let's say you have to have access to the speaker office. suddenly you as a journalist have a lot of tough choices to make.
>> that's not what we're talking about here.
>> we're talking about threats. the threats are made all the time. they were just stupid. they threatened the wrong guy. in a veiled sort of way if you believe it was a threat. i would never use that language if i'm talking to bob woodward . veiled or not.
>> right. i think the threat is -- it's not the threat they're going to chop your legs off. threat is we won't give you access. if your bob woodward , your next book is it will have something about obama. you won't have access to people you need access to. that's what sources have to hold over you. you just brush it aside for the most part. if you're a good reporter, you get the facts like bob and people will talk to you because they know you know what you're talking about. what's different here and we saw it with this white house and with bush, they don't want anybody to know anything about what's happening internally at the white house . they don't want anyone to challenge them. i find all white houses to be exceptionally thinned skin. being challenged is not a big deal .
>> he stands by his reporter that the white house initiated and designed the sequester.
>> the budget dooms day machine.
>> jim vandehei , thank you.
>> we haven't talked about the civil rights challenge at the supreme court . we're not going to talk about that now. we'll talk about it next hour. it's fascinating.
>> supreme court going to take up contraception next? we're going back to '65.
>> what's up next?
>> interesting arguments on both sides.
>> john roberts asking the question do you think southerners are more racist than people in the north? fascinating.
>> we'll talk about that in our next hour. coming up, josh green joins us. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by