Jay Carney, Exhausted After All That Question-Dodging

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi reported on Jay Carney stepping down as White House spokesman and how exhausting the job is. It's "Washington's ultimate burnout job."

Farhi found some of that was just dodging: Yahoo News reported last June that Carney had responded to questions at the daily briefings with some variation of “I don’t know” nearly 2,000 times since his first briefing in 2011. It also reported that Carney had somehow dodged reporters’ questions approximately 9,486 times. Reporters were split in their evaluations of this former Time White House correspondent who switched sides:

He was intensely proud of having been a journalist and never forgot the days when he sat in one of the seats in the briefing room,” says National Journal’s George Condon, a longtime White House reporter. “I believe that he fought behind the scenes for more openness.”

Steve Thomma, a veteran White House reporter for McClatchy newspapers and the president of the White House Correspondents Association, had a more impassioned assessment.

“This White House has not only failed to become more transparent, it has in many ways become less transparent,” Thomma says. “Notably, it’s kept journalists out of events that later are publicized by White House photos or videos. That trend started before Carney. We have made some small progress with him, but not enough.”

During a January TV interview with Al Jazeera America, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, without singling out Carney, called the White House “the most secretive” she had ever dealt with. Abramson, a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, was critical of the administration’s pursuit of classified leaks to the news media through such extraordinary tactics as secretly seizing reporters’ phone and e-mail records.

...Peter Baker, a New York Times White House correspondent, says Carney was “a zealous advocate for his boss, and he didn’t hesitate to push back against his former colleagues just because he once sat where we sit.”

Earlier: In rocky month of May 2013, WashPost prints big, fluffy story on Carney's adoration of the rock band Guided by Voices

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