The custom of decorous conservational exchanges between members of the media and Executive Branch officials is well-established, dating back to the earliest days of the Republic. When this is violated, it may reflect underlying legal issues of a constitutional nature including, but not limited to, potential violations of the First Amendment and the Separation of Powers. Six months ago, the House of Representatives charged this Office with investigating these possible systemic breaches in White House conduct. Our findings are as follows:
Initially at issue was an email exchange between Gene Sperling, the Director of the National Economic Council at the White House, andWashington Post reporter Bob Woodward, over an assertion by Mr. Woodward that the White House was “moving the goalposts” by seeking additional tax revenue in negotiations to avert congressionally-mandated automatic budget cuts (hereinafter, “the sequester”):
Mr. Sperling: But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.
Mr. Woodward later explained the trauma of this experience to Fox News host Sean Hannity: