Note: This is satire.
Excerpts from the Final Report of the Special Counsel in the Matter of the Woodward-Sperling Investigation.
The custom of decorous conversational 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, and the author and Washington 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:
Mr. Woodward: These guys, they think they own the world, so when they are forced to face uncomfortable truths by a humble, shoe-leather reporter digging up facts, they cannot help themselves from showing their true colors, going all Godfather on the media, the guardians of democracy. High in their gleaming offices, with their secure government computers and their minibars, they think they are gods, showering their threatening emails on us like thunderbolts.
I was at home, and so I checked the locks. I turned on the drone jammer that one highly-placed source in the room had very kindly given me after my last book. I had my very capable assistant install a filter in my email for "regret."
Mr. Hannity: You've dealt with abuses of presidential power before. How much worse is this one?
A team of six Deputy Special Counsels spent five months gathering and vetting evidence, including Mr. Sperling's White House and personal email and social media accounts and past correspondence, and interviewing more than 500 coworkers, friends, associates, service personnel, and paramours. The evidence shows a troubling pattern of passive-aggressive behavior and a trail of bruised feelings. In one 1967 letter to "Suzie," for example, Mr. Sperling pledged eternal love, only to withdraw the promise after unnamed associates threatened to pull his underwear up violently from the rear (hereinafter, "the wedgie threat").
Our investigation suggests this early incident became a template for later, possibly extra-constitutional behavior by Mr. Sperling that spilled over to other members of the White House staff, up to and including the president himself. The Office of Special Counsel has compiled an archive of approximately 8,400 White House emails employing the word "regret" in a potentially threatening context, suggesting a web of questionable actions reaching throughout the media and executive branch. To cite an illustrative example, one message from a Deputy White House Counsel to the Secretary of Interior contained the phrase, "Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention," suggestive of a reckless disregard for traditional legal-political norms.
While the Office of Special Counsel cannot recommend impeachment at this time, It formally requests a renewable, 72-month extension of legal authority and an additional budget allocation of $500 million to pursue the issues we have raised in this initial Final Report.
Kenneth Starr, Special Counsel
Sept. 15, 2013
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