True, the publicity-loving Woodward may have overreacted to an alleged threat from the White House over his reporting on the budget sequester that takes effect today. An administration source — now identified by the White House as Obama’s economic adviser, Gene Sperling — warned Woodward in an email that he would “regret” reporting the version of events he had pieced together.
Any decent journalist has had the same exchange with the subject of a negative story; we’ll regret if we publish, because it will prove embarrassingly false.
But whether Woodward actually believed Sperling might be hiding in the bushes outside his house is immaterial. A member of the media had difficulty swallowing what the White House was spoon-feeding him so he tracked down the full story and wrote about it. (Woodward wrote in the Washington Post that the White House, in demanding tax increases as part of any deal to avoid the sequester, had “moved the goal posts.”)
And for that he must be punished.