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NBC's Gregory: Obama Doesn't Like Washington Press Corps, Feeling is 'Mutual'

Reacting to the contentious exchange between the Obama White House and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory saw the conflict as part of a "larger issue": "...the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects....there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President." [Listen to the audio]

Gregory began by explaining: "All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward....and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps..." He then sympathized with White House: "...a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans."

That attitude seemed reflected in this testy exchange during a presidential press conference on the budget sequester later in the day:

JULIE PACE [ASSOCIATED PRESS]: How much responsibility do you feel like you bear for these cuts taking effect? And is the only way to offset them at this point for Republicans to bend on revenue, or do you see any alternatives?...It sounds like you're saying that this is a Republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for.

BARACK OBAMA: Well, Julie, give me an example of what I might do.

PACE: I'm just trying to clarify your statement.

OBAMA: Well, no, but I'm trying to clarify the question. What I'm suggesting is, I've put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem. I've offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach. And so far, we've gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue, we can't do a dime's worth of revenue. So what more do you think I should do? Okay, I just wanted to clarify. [Pace doesn't respond. Laughter in room] Because if people have a suggestion, I'm happy to – this is a room full of smart folks.

On Today, Gregory outlined the President's strategy of blaming the GOP for the sequester:

The President is going to make his case that the Republicans are being unreasonable, that they ought to consider revenues as part of tax reform and actually apply those to the deficit. They're not going to do that. You know, certainly there'll be effects of this. If you work for the military, you could be furloughed. If you have a child who's in Head Start, some 70,000 get kicked out of Head Start. But the truth is that this will be a rolling set of impacts that won't really be evident until over the next 30 days and not everybody will be affected. I think there's going to be a certain amount of waiting to see how big the political outcry becomes before either side moves.

Here is a full transcript of the March 1 segment:

7:09AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: Well, David Gregory is the moderator of Meet the Press. Good morning to you, David.

DAVID GREGORY: Hey, Natalie. How are you?

MORALES: I'm great. Let's start with a little bit of your reaction to what you just heard from Bob Woodward first, not dealing with the sequester issue just yet, but rather on this issue of push-back from the White House and from other administrations. I imagine over the years in the White House press corps you've had your share of nasty emails and phone calls.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Woodward vs. White House; "Regret," Sorting Out the War of Words on Sequester]

GREGORY: Right. Yes, I've heard some nasty stuff, and Bob Woodward has heard a lot of nasty stuff that goes beyond this, for sure, over his forty years.

Look, a couple of things. Obviously, Bob, in his reporting, has staked out some very clear ground here, where he's challenging the administration. The administration doesn't like it and you've seen this push-back. All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward. So that's just a reality in Washington and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps, particularly covering the White House at any particular level.

I think there's a larger issue here, too, and that is that the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects. And so, there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President. That, too, by the way, is not unprecedented.

So I think some of these tensions play out, particularly because, I've seen this first hand, the President – a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans.

MORALES: Right. Now to the sequester issue. And it appears now it's all but inevitable, at 11:59 p.m. tonight, those cuts are going to go into effect. What happens next? Because as we heard, House Speaker John Boehner yesterday, say yesterday, you know, it's now closed. It's an issue that's now closed. It's up to the Senate. We saw the Senate absolutely did nothing yesterday with this. They managed to fail on two competing bills. So what happens now?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Time's Up; Will Washington Reach A Budget Compromise?]

GREGORY: Well, nothing immediately. And that's a key point. They're going to meet today at the White House, as you heard Matt discussing with Bob Woodward, congressional leaders and the President. Nothing is going to come of this meeting. The President is going to make his case that the Republicans are being unreasonable, that they ought to consider revenues as part of tax reform and actually apply those to the deficit. They're not going to do that. You know, certainly there'll be effects of this. If you work for the military, you could be furloughed. If you have a child who's in Head Start, some 70,000 get kicked out of Head Start.

MORALES: Right.

GREGORY: But the truth is that this will be a rolling set of impacts that won't really be evident until over the next 30 days and not everybody will be affected. I think there's going to be a certain amount of waiting to see how big the political outcry becomes before either side moves.

MORALES: Alright, David Gregory, thanks. And of course we're going to be seeing you on Sunday on Meet the Press and I know you have House Speaker John Boehner on as your guest. Thanks, David.

GREGORY: Thanks, Natalie. Now here's Matt.

MATT LAUER: And that should be a fascinating interview.