New Press Secretary Josh Earnest Gets Low Marks From Pro-Obama Media

As noted by Washington Post reporter David Nakamura, newly-minted Obama White House press spokesman Josh Earnest managed to anger the White House press corps right out of the gate.
 
While it may not seem like a big deal that press can be "testy" with a White House, consider the contrast at the beginning of the Obama Presidency in 2009.  Traditionally, the White House press corps does not stand when a president enters the briefing room, a measure of respect for their colleagues operating TV cameras in the rear of the small room.  However, the White House press corps was so enamored with the former community organizer, they broke protocol and many stood as Obama entered the White House press briefing room.

After the disastrous tenure of now former Obama press secretary Jay Carney, during which White House reporters overwhelmingly said access was far inferior to the Bush White House , a new face behind the podium could have meant a new beginning and clean slate with the White House press corps.  However, Josh Earnest appears to have squandered that opportunity already. 

According to the Post, "The honeymoon ended quickly for new White House Press secretary Josh Earnest."


Apparently the new boss is the same as the old boss.  On Monday, Mr. Earnest blatantly omitted a key piece of information to the media in his hour-long briefing, namely that President Obama had phoned Russian President Vladmir Putin to talk about the Ukraine. "The hour-long daily briefing went fairly smoothly until the final question, when a Bloomberg reporter asked him to confirm a report from Moscow that President Obama had spoken with Russia's Vladimir Putin about Ukraine. Earnest confirmed it.  That's when things got testy."
 
After a bit of back and forth, Earnest tried to mollify the reporters, saying, "I can't promise to give you a readout of every call he [Obama] makes to a world leader, but I can try my best to keep you up to date."  While the Post notes that reporters may expect Earnest to try harder, it can be argued that the adoring, pro-Obama cheerleaders in the media helped create the monster that is the Obama PR machine. The problem? The media never anticipated the monster could turn against them.
 
The Washington Post In the Loop columnists Colby Itzkowitz and Al Kamen described part of Tuesday's briefing as a brief "lecture" by the Obama spokesman blaming Republicans for "playing political games" with confirmation of political nominees.  Rather than merely repeating the Obama White House talking points, the Post clarified that the Senate has confirmed nominees who are not "bundlers" of political contributions to Obama and other Democrats and that Republicans are the minority party and not control the Senate schedule.

Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus is president of Capitol Strategies PR.