The White House and Senate Democrats may need a refresher course on how to leak a juicy story.
The White House today was forced to backtrack on a rumor Obama administration officials started about a Republican House leader who purportedly insulted President Obama to his face, telling the president, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Turns out, it never happened. How do we know?
The same White House that was responsible for starting the buzz now says there was a “miscommunication” and a “misunderstanding.”
Here’s how it went down:
During The Shutdown:
House Republican leaders and committee chairmen met with the president at the White House to discuss the government shutdown and debt ceiling on Oct. 10. Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors also sat in on the meeting.
Sunday, Oct. 20:
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote Sunday on Facebook that “Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Wednesday, Oct. 23:
Aides to House Republican leaders denied any lawmaker made such a statement to the president, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney even said that statement was not accurate.
“I looked into this and spoke with somebody that was in that meeting and it did not happen,” Carney said at the White House press briefing Wednesday.
“Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air. The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner.
A spokesman for Durbin later told news outlets that the Illinois senator stood by his statement.
Thursday, Oct. 24:
The Huffington Post reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Senate Democratic caucus about the alleged GOP insult last week. The report even said Reid laid the blame on Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, for the statement, which Sessions’ spokeswoman then denied.
“I don’t have anything to add beyond what I have said before – that the Congressman didn’t say that,” Torrie Miller, a spokeswoman for Sessions, told ABC News.
The White House then took the blame for the “misunderstanding.”
“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the president is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” a White House official said Thursday.
So the question now in this game of whodunit: Who in the White House was responsible for the “miscommunication” between the White House and Senate Democrats?
ABC News’ Mary Bruce, Michael Falcone, and John Parkinson contributed to this report.