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.