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TODAY   |  March 01, 2013

Bob Woodward: White House using press to distract

The Washington Post reporter talks about a recent email altercation with a White House staffer, saying the administration is using it to deflect focus from sequestration, as well as his newest book, “The Price of Politics,” an inside look at the crisis that led to the sequester.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bob woodward is with us exclusively now. good morning. how are you doing?

>> good morning, matt. how are you?

>> i'm fine, thank you. these high-energy, high octane moments happen all the time between officials and the people who cover them. you felt the heat before. why did you go public with this one?

>> i didn't go public. politico came and asked me in a long hour interview about how i decided and what the interactions was to write that op-ed piece, calling the obama administration out, pointing out how the president had said congress was the one that proposed the sequestration, these automatic spending cuts. it turns out that's not true. the white house has finally acknowledged that. they made a deal in 2011 that they wouldn't have to go back and negotiate with the republicans on the borrowing limit and they moved the goalpost on this. so that's the substance.

>> and gene sperling 's take on this, and your position on it was that you're wrong in staking out that position.

>> no, he's not. he's not disputing the facts. if you read the e-mail, he said we're just not going to see eye to eye on this.

>> right. i do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying the potus, president of the united states , asking for revenues, is moving the goalpost. i know you may not believe this, but as a friend -- those are very key words -- i think you will refwret stakieregret staking out that claim.

>> i've done this for 40 years, matt, had lots of contentious moments with the white house . i never said this was a threat. people can read. it was pointed out that this is a sideshow, which it is. and this is the old trick in the book of making the press or some confrontation with the press the issue rather than what the white house has done here. and there is even the larger issue of these automatic spending cuts, which actually make no sense, as everyone has said. the president is running around the country, saying it's going to bring a human toll to all kinds of people who will lose their jobs and so forth. he is the one who started it. he is the one who proposed it. people need to know that. and that's what the white house is trying to avoid discussion about, quoit frankly.

>> in terms of the exchange then, we can agree, no real harm, no real foul. let's ask the bigger question. what does the fact that these two sides are still pointing fingers at each other even as the sequester kicks in tonight at 11:59 or so, what does it tell us about the dynamic we're going to see between this white house and republican leaders in congress over the next four years?

>> that's the question. and if you look at these automatic spending cuts, $85 billion, these are in the accounts like department of defense , some of the domestic programs. they don't even really touch the entitlement programs , medicare, medicaid, social security that everyone, including the president -- when i talked to the president over the summer for the book, he said it is that we get some control on spending over these entitlement programs , but this sequester really doesn't touch them. we have got a level of dysfunction within the dysfunction. they can't talk. now there is some -- like i can share with you some news about this. they certainly aren't going to solve it when they meet today, as i understand, but some senators like lindsey graham have proposed going back, accepting new revenue under tax reform . they're going to give the white house some things that are very dear to the president, quite likely. whether this takes hold, whether this becomes a real solution to the problem, we don't know. but at least it's a start.

>> a step in the right direction. bob, thanks for your time this morning.

>> thank you.

>> i appreciate it.