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New spokesman stepping up to White House podium

In this 2009 video, Vice President Biden's director of communications, Jay Carney, talks to The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers about transitioning from Time Magazine to The White House.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 9:43 AM

The White House's noontime reality show opens Wednesday with a new host.

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Jay Carney, who served for two years as Vice President Biden's communications director, will formally take the podium for the first time to answer questions from reporters as the new White House press secretary .

He will likely face queries on Egypt and Iran, the president's budget proposal and his own role at the White House (reporters who cover the president have privately worried that Carney won't be as plugged in to administration matters as was former press secretary Robert Gibbs, who worked with Obama more than six years and was a close adviser).

For most Americans, the change at the podium won't be dramatic: One longtime, bespectacled Washington insider will replace another answering and sidestepping questions from the briefing room.

But the White House spent months trying to figure out who would replace Gibbs, and Carney reflects that process.

While Gibbs has a long record in partisan politics, Carney, who worked as a nonpartisan journalist and analyst before joining Biden's staff, will try to stay above each day's partisan fight.

A former Time Magazine scribe, Carney has long known many of the reporters who will attend his briefings. He is expected to treat them more politely than did the occasionally blunt Gibbs. (Full disclosure: This reporter worked at Time with Carney for several years.)

The televised briefing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and will be carried on washingtonpost.com.

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Motown tribute Feb. 24

The White House announced Wednesday that it will host an East Room concert next week that will highlight the influence of Motown Records on American music.

The Thursday night "Motown Sound" event, part of the White House's celebration of Black History Month, will include performances by Smokey Robinson, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx, Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, Seal and Jordin Sparks.

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