Puh-leeze: Jay Carney Claims 'Joe Klein Said He Thought I Was a Republican' When He Joined Obama-Biden

Washington Post reporters Paul Farhi and Billy Kenber caused a morning cereal spew inside the Beltway. In a story about the revolving door between reporters and Team Obama, there was this unintentional laugh line from Jay Carney: “But I think any reading of my coverage as a reporter would show that I was not an ideologue. [Time columnist] Joe Klein said he thought I was a Republican” when Carney joined Biden’s staff.

See my dossier on how Carney found Hillary was “strangely mesmerizing" as “the polite but passionate American citizen,” or how Bill Clinton was “probably the best white politician out there speaking on race issues.” (That sounds exactly like Joe Klein.) The Posties quoted Rush Limbaugh decrying the obvious media-Obama mindmeld, then lamely tried to argue their way out of that reality:

The pattern of Obama hires has periodically aroused suspicions about the media's allegedly cozy relationship with the president. Prompted by Stengel's appointment last week, conservative radio titan Rush Limbaugh commented on his program, "There's an incestuous relationship that exists between the Washington press corps and any Democrat administration....Journalists are simply leftists disguised as reporters. They're political activists disguised as reporters. That's all they are, and this is just the latest example."

Journalists who've become former journalists say it's a lot more complicated than that.

Jill Zuckman, who was a seasoned political correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, says she joined Team Obama (as head of public affairs at the Transportation Department) in February 2009 primarily because a Republican, Rep. Ray LaHood (Ill.), had been appointed to run it. [Italics in the original.]

“I probably would not have done it without a professional relationship with Ray LaHood,” says Zuckman, who had covered LaHood when he was a congressional staff member in the early 1990s. “He was one of my favorite members of Congress. I thought he was smart, frank and plugged in. I thought I could help him” in his new job.

It's not complicated. Next the Post reported that Zuckman left that job to join a Democratic lobbying shop run by former Obama spinner Anita Dunn. So she’s refuting herself.

In 2008, “objective” reporter Zuckman also showed her love for moderate Republicans by proclaiming McCain’s victory in the 2008 South Carolina primary was “a healthy dose of poetic justice as he beat his Republican rivals and vanquished the ghosts of his 2000 defeat under a barrage of scurrilous smears.” When Obama stood next to John Edwards, Zuckman gushed, "They looked fantastic together.....They looked like a ticket."

Even then, Zuckman insisted Obama’s life story was just as impressive as McCain’s long tenure as a prisoner of war in Vietnam: “Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.”

The Post counted four Washington Post staffers who've worked for Team Obama, including former political reporter Shailagh Murray, who replaced Carney in the Biden PR shop in 2011.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis