Outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last night took questions not from a bunch of overaggressive White House reporters but from a faux-aggressive comedian. And Stephen Colbert asked a quite direct one: “Where’d you really shank it?” Carney replied that he occasionally “took the bait,” by which he meant that when some reporter was pushing him on a particular topic, he could have easily moved to the next question. Instead he’d go toe-to-toe with the questioner. “You finish the exchange thinking that ‘I won that, I killed.’ And then you look at it later on TV and you realize that nobody sees the whole exchange, they just see you wagging your finger or, you know, looking like a jerk and that’s not good for the president.”

The briefings are televised, noted Carney, which creates certain incentives. “Sometimes I think that the fact that the briefing is televised in its entirety … creates a theatricality to it and some righteous indignation and people pose and they want to hear themselves talk and want to create moments,” said the press secretary. Correct that is; those moments supply critical material for cable news broadcasts, not to mention for certain media critics. Here’s to hoping there are plenty under Carney’s successor, Josh Earnest.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.