Morning Joe | March 01, 2013
>> us now, mike allen is here with the morning "playbook." hi, mike.
>> happy march and happy friday.
>> it's spring break time.
>> time to clean.
>> mike, at the end of our show yesterday, the woodward e-mail surfaced between bob and the white house 's gene spurling. "politico" released the e-mail from spurling to bob.
>> i'm assuming bob's going to be on today.
>> i apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. my bad. come on, baby. i love gene.
>> he's a bully, that's why. my bad.
>> i do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall but feel, on the other hand, that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. but perhaps we will just not see eye to eye . but i do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that potus asking for revenues is moving the goalpost. i know you may not believe this, but as a friend, i think you will regret staking out that claim. my apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. feel bad about that and truly apologize. we find out at the end of the show yesterday, because we were talking at the beginning this was probably just some stupid under, you know, some lowly staff member. you know, they get in there, they get excited. we find out at the end of the show that this is gene spurling. we know gene.
>> he's a good guy.
>> bob knows gene.
>> bob knows gene.
>> and bob, at the end, after that last e-mail says, you know, you never have to apologize to me, gene.
>> gene's never threatened anybody.
>> well, you know.
>> he's sort of known as the tony soprano of democratic politics. that's how i've always thought of gene.
>> so anyway, bob woodward is backtracking last night. he's doing the backstroke.
>> first of all, around the table, you guys know how intimidating gene spurling is. we now call him gene the fierce.
>> oh, that's cute.
>> and it rhymes, too.
>> it doesn't really work. because he's so nice.
>> so whatted there? what happened there? a lot of questions around this table. why would woodward come out yesterday and say all this if he knew that there was an e-mail trail. this ain't '71. '72, '73. you don't have guys whispering to you in basements anymore. it's all on e-mail.
>> bob woodward , i think, his sense of proprity was offended. respect must be paid to woodward . i think he didn't like the tone and content of this message from the white house . his reporting from his best-selling book, "the price of politics," had convinced him that the white house has been wrong about what they've been saying, about the genesis of the sequester. he didn't like this brushback from gene spurling. i guess they had had a shouting match. he says they have not had a makeup conversation. but his bigger point is, he says he doesn't think this is the way to do business by the white house . and he says that it's a reflection of how thin skinned that they are. that this is a white house that's not used to taking criticism.
>> that's a key word because we're looking at just what happened yesterday and not looking at this completely in context. this has been going on for some time between the white house and woodward . things got ugly. woodward said the president wasn't telling the truth. jack lew wasn't telling the truth. they pushed back on that. then woodward came back. the white house lobbing bombs at woodward , him lobbing them back. i wonder, did it get personal and maybe bob got a little thin-skinned.
>> you could say that and look at this exchange of e-mails. the tone of the e-mails actually is pretty friendly, as you saw there. this is a little bit two mobsters talking to each other. these are people who expect to do business with each other again. gene sperling from the beginning was convinced that the woodward book about the grand bargain was going to more come out on the side of speaker boehner. they spent a lot of time with woodward , and that's what's fascinating about this. even though they're taking shots at each other, the president gave bob woodward a long interview for this book. almost every key player in this drama, many of them around the dining room table of bob's house in georgetown where jim and i sat down with him and talked to him on camera about these e-mails.
>> so let me ask you this because even last night -- and i can't wait to talk to bob about this because i'm really curious -- but as of last night, he was saying that it's sort of like a coded message for, you'd better watch out. and i know i was a reporter for many years. my husband is an investigative reporter in new york city . i hear the phone calls between him and representatives, what, from the mayor's office or housing or from state officials in the governor's office in new jersey and connecticut. i can hear the other side , too, screaming at him. i can hear f-bombs flying at times. the e-mails back and forth, everyone's pushing in a little bit.
>> thank god you don't hear that at work.
>> i know, exactly. la la land here. i look at this e-mail, and it sa it's at docile and polite as it gets, mike.
>> i think, first of all, bob woodward would say what you're describing there is not the way business should be done between public servants and the press. and his argument was that he, your husband, had been doing this for a long time. they can take it. they can dish it out. but he's saying for a younger reporter might take this as a little bit more of a push. and he just didn't like the tone of it. he didn't like the way he was being treated.
>> it also followed, again, a 30-minute screaming match on the telephone where he had been yelled at apparently, he claims, for 30 minutes . and i will say --
>> i don't know.
>> as a lawyer or former lawyer, i wasn't a good one.
>> clearly. why don't you go off set and clear your throat.
>> you do choose your words carefully. if i wanted to be polite but brush somebody back, a little baseball metaphor , not throw at their head but just brush them back, i would say regret. you may regret it. it's not a threat. but regret is a word -- you use words -- you understand what i'm saying? i'm not saying bob didn't overreact here.
>> i am saying, though, regret is a word i would use if i just wanted to push somebody off the flight.
>> as a friend, because they've known each other for many years.
>> come on, though. you know what? you know how many times i've gotten on the phone and said, listen, i'm your friend.
>> i'm your friend.
>> that's the best one.
>> can i just tell you this as a friend?
>> you're dead. you're a dead friend .
>> i just want to protect you because gene, i want you to know, if you write that column, i love you.
>> i so appreciate that. i'll write anything you want.
>> i'm telling you as a friend. you would never -- dot, dot, dot.
>> i'd love to have a nickel for every time i've been told a similar thing by a news source.
>> yeah. or a penny. the penny funds social services . mike.
>> the point to this, whether it's coded or whatever the message was there, what's fascinating about this, and the reason that "politico" posted them originally went and talked to bob, did this as part of the behind-the-curtain column with jim vandehei is that people read woodward 's book, and they wonder how he gets his stuff. there's an amazing fascination with what woodward has seen and learned over the decades. and here, as you point out, because of the e-mail trail, for the first time we're seeing in realtime how bob woodward does his job, which is very fascinating to people who both work in washington and want to work here. so you can think it's clubby or friendly. you can think that it's a little mobsterlike. whatever you think of it, for the first time we have a window into how gene sperling , bob woodward talk to each other. as we say good-bye here, next month, next week, wednesday at the white house , the president is welcoming the university of alabama bcs champions, roll tide, baby.
>> i love it!
>> mike, thank you so much.
>> every year, mika.
>> bob woodward is going to be joining us later. i can't wait. interesting to hear his insight.
>> seeing how gene sperling does his job, that's the real window we're getting.
>> i've talked to him on a few sunday nights as he's trying to grapple with his kids and the economy.
>>> up next --
>> and saving the economy. a and getting his kids to bed.
>> i don't know what's harder, teenagers or the economy. teenagers.
>> he's going to be on in a little bit.