Sperling: Woodward is a ‘legend,’ hopes to put controversy 'behind us'

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A senior White House official called Bob Woodward "a legend" and said he didn't threaten the veteran journalist over a story about negotiations on $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. 

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy, was involved last week in a highly publicized verbal battle with Woodward over a phone and email exchange that led to the reporter saying he felt very uncomfortable being told he was going to "regret" the stance he was taking. 

Although Sperling hasn't talked to him since their dust up late last month, he called their relationship "very friendly and respectful" on the whole. 

"I've had 20-year relationship with Bob Woodward," Sperling said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press. 

"It's been friendly, it's been cordial. Those e-mails are very substantive." 

He suggested looking at Woodward's reply to his email where Woodward said, "Gene, you don't need to apologize" after Sperling said he was sorry for raising his voice. 

"He said he welcomed my advice. So I can't really explain it. All I can say is I hope Bob and I can put this behind us," Sperling said. 

In the email exchange, Sperling wrote: "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."

Sunday, Woodward in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” said he too hoped to put the controversy behind them and suggested that media coverage had overblown the incident.

“I never said it was threatening,” he said of the email exchange, characterizing it as a “back-and-forth.” 

"He's a peacemaker," Woodward said of Sperling.

"I am in the business of listening, and I'm going to invite him over to my house if he'll come and hopefully he'll bring others from the White House or maybe the president himself, and we can, you know, this talking really works."