The White House strategy for trying to bottle up the Bob Woodward controversy? Pile on the charm to make people think that the legendary Washington Post reporter had an irrational overreaction.

Gene Sperling, top adviser on President Obama’s economic council, told ABC News this morning that the exchange was actually “polite.”

“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,” Sperling wrote in the email, which was later referenced by Woodward in the context of this administration trying to bully reporters.

“I’ve known Bob Woodward for 20 years. We’ve had a very friendly, and respectful relationship. I think virtually everybody who has looked at my email to him, and his reply to me, though those emails reflected that degree of respect, and — and politeness,” Sperling told George Stephanopoulos today.

“And the emails were fundamentally substantive. I was — I was arguing a case as to why I believe the president asking for balance is consistent with where things have been for the last several years. So all I can say, George is that Bob Woodward is — is a legend. I hope that him and I can put this behind us.”

Sperling did say, however, that he hadn’t talked with Woodward about the emails and fallout.

“I hope we can put it behind us. Because I think we both care about the policy issues we were debating, and I think we both think that that’s where the focus of our — our national debate should be, not on — not on our email exchange,” he said.