Carney: WH reporters playing to TV cameras


President Obama hugs White House press secretary Jay Carney. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney took his first parting shot at the reporters he sparred with daily for the past three-plus years.

Carney and the White House correspondents shared a love-hate relationship, at times congenial, but more often combative. Carney, it seems, has an explanation for those more tense moments: television stardom.

Appearing Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Carney said some of the intense back and forth with reporters is “partly because they want their crack at a moment on TV.” He said Mike McCurry, who was President Bill Clinton’s mouthpiece, “has apologized to every one of his successors for being the press secretary who agreed to allow the briefing to be televised in full.”

So does that mean reporters wouldn’t ask any tough questions if the cameras weren’t rolling?

White House reporters have complained about access and transparency in the Obama administration, and as a result Carney is often on the defensive. Carney, a former Washington bureau chief at Time magazine, did acknowledge that not all his former colleagues are in it for their 15 seconds of fame.

UPDATE: This idea of White House reporters playing it up for the television is not a new one. Ron Fournier, a columnist for the National Journal, told the Washington Post in a December story about Carney, that televising the briefing “made it more of a show and less of a place to get and give information. We all know it’s being televised, and we all end up puffing out our chests and acting a bit. It’s human nature.”

(Here’s our colleagues at The Fix’s take on Carney’s greatest hits.)

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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Colby Itkowitz | May 30