Washington: US President Barack Obama`s top economic advisor has been accused of threatening eminent American journalist Bob Woodward, a charge denied by the White House.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Gene Sperling, Obama`s economic advisor, was "incredibly respectful" to him in an e-mail exchange.
Woodward, whose reporting on the Watergate scandal led to Richard Nixon`s resignation in 1974, said he would regret writing an article arguing that Obama had moved the goalposts in negotiations over how to reduce America`s USD 845 billion budget deficit.
Sperling "was incredibly respectful" to Woodward, referred to him as his friend, and apologised for raising his voice, Carney said referring to the e-mail exchange between the two, which was made public by Politico.
"I think you cannot read those e-mails and come away with the impression that Gene was threatening anybody, as I think others have observed. I wish that reporters would pay attention to the policy substance of that e-mail because the point that Gene was making is a point that I`ve made and others have made and the President has made," he said.
"The fact of the matter is there was an accusation that Gene had been threatening. And as I think everybody who knows Gene knows, that`s hard to believe. Gene has been working on these issues all his life. He is very passionate about them."
"..He works 20 hours a day, often, on behalf of the American people and this President to try to advance an economic agenda that helps middle-class Americans, average Americans. And he`ll continue to do that," he said.
Noting that he has `enormous respect` for the work that Bob Woodward is famous for, Carney insisted that the White House has had a factual disagreement.
"I think we stand by, which is that the President was very clear from the beginning that he would push balanced deficit reduction," he said.
According to The Hill, the fight with Woodward has become a distraction for a White House engaged in an aggressive public relations campaign to blame Republicans over the USD 85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin hitting the government today.
Woodward, who writes for The Washington Post, alleged that in multiple interviews that the Obama Administration essentially threatened him to try to get him not to write the story, according to the daily. Later in an interview, he said that he never used the word threat.
"I never characterised it as a `threat`. I think that was Politico`s word," he was quoted as saying by Politico. I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you`re going to regret doing something that you believe in," Woodward said in an interview to the CNN.
"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 communication`s strategy - let`s hope it`s not a strategy, but it`s a tactic that somebody`s employed, and said, 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. And just – it`s Mickey Mouse," he said.