Bob Woodward is riding a fine distinction on the question of whether he was “threatened” by White House economic czar Gene Sperling. As the whole world now knows, Sperling sent Woodward an e-mail saying he’d “regret” staking out a certain position on the sequester deal. That message was framed and feathered in an exceedingly polite set of words. It was virtually e-kissed.

And to his credit, Woodward has said to the Erik Wemple Blog and in an appearance with Sean Hannity on Fox News last night that he hasn’t deployed the term “threatened” in reference to that e-mail—that’s just how others have interpreted things.

And yet, Woodward used the following language on his Hannity appearance to describe how he felt about the matter:

The problem I have with the Gene Sperling memo and email and this comes after a shouting match. Now, lots of people shout at me and he says, I’m going to regret, you know, that’s — that goes into the coded, you know, you better watch out.

The ever-careful Woodward, again, does not use the term “threatened.” He merely uses other words that, together, form the definition of “threatened.”