Obama addressed the recent kerfuffle between Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and his top economic adviser Gene Sperling. Last month, Woodward and Sperling clashed when the Washington Post reporter suggested that the top Obama adviser threatened him. The leaked email exchange seemed far from threatening, and many members of the media criticized Woodward for mischaracterizing the conversation.
"Some folks couldn't make it this evening," Obama said during his remarks at the dinner. "Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted. I have to admit this whole brouhaha had me a little surprised. Who knew Gene could be so intimidating? Or let me phrase it differently: Who knew anybody named Gene could be this intimidating? Now I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively. But, hey, ... can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? What's the worst that could happen?"
Woodward and Sperling eventually made amends by way of Sunday public affair shows.
Obama went on to joke about the criticism his administration has received for the access it grants to the White House press corps. Last month, Fox News' Ed Henry, who is also the president of the White House Correspondents Association, expressed his "extreme frustration" with access when the press corps were not allowed to cover the president's private golf game with Tiger Woods.
"I want to acknowledge Ed Henry, who is here -- who is the fearless leader of the Washington press corps now," Obama said. "And at Ed's request, tonight I will take one question from the press. Jay, do we have a question? Surprisingly, it's a question from Ed Henry. 'Mr. President, will you be taking any questions tonight?' I'm happy to answer that. No, Ed, I will not."
Obama went on to mention Mother Jones' David Corn and the New York Times' polling guru Nate Silver. Click over to Politico Playbook to read more of Obama's jokes from the 2013 Gridiron Club Dinner.