WH PUSHES BACK AGAINST ANONYMOUS HARWOOD PARAPHRASE…. Following up on an item from this morning, the White House is pushing back against an anonymous paraphrase reported on MSNBC over the weekend.

To briefly recap, John Harwood said the Obama White House considers at least criticism from liberals as “part of the Internet left fringe.” Harwood added that “one advisor” told him “those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.” We don’t know who said this, why, and what his/her connection is to the administration, if any, but the insulting remark is generating a fair amount of controversy.

This morning, White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told Greg Sargent, on the record:

“That sentiment does not reflect White House thinking at all, we’ve held easily a dozen calls with the progressive online community because we believe the online communities can often keep the focus on how policy will affect the American people rather than just the political back-and-forth.”

Greg added:

[P]araphrased second-hand claims from a single anonymous adviser don’t really seem like grounds for sweeping conclusions about the White House’s alleged disdain for the online community…. [I]t seems clear by White House actions — the hiring of Internet outreach staff, the frequent blogger conference calls, the elevation of Huffington Post at press conferences — that the White House sees the blogosphere as playing a valuable role of sorts.

It’s exactly why I’m not more worked up about this. The quote, as characterized by Harwood, was ridiculous. But note, if the White House didn’t give a damn about online progressives, Dan Pfeiffer wouldn’t be going on the record to distance the White House from the quote at all. If the White House simply expected bloggers to “take off the pajamas,” there’d be no need for pushback, since the president’s team would simply ignore the complaints.

I just haven’t seen the evidence that the White House considers the netroots and progressive activists in general as some kind of annoying sideshow to be ignored. On the contrary, I’ve seen the opposite. It’s why my outrage about a blind paraphrase of an anonymous “advisor” of unknown significance is tempered.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.