[guest post by Dana]
Former White House press secretary Jay Carney reveals a few choice gems as he looks back at his time at the podium…
You came to the administration from Time magazine, where, for a while, you covered the White House. How did your view of journalists change when you switched sides? I’m proud of a lot of my work. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have succumbed less often to chasing the same soccer ball down the field that everybody else was.
Are you saying they’re shallow? I think the format reinforces a shallow approach.
Were you surprised at times how tense things could get with your former colleagues? Sure. It can be surreal at the podium when you go down that front row and you have an exchange with one of the reporters in which there’s very emotional — maybe even theatrical — presentation and back and forth, and then you go to the next reporter and you have the same thing, as if the first one didn’t happen at all. You begin to wonder how valuable a service to the nation that is in the end.
Do people in the first row like to showboat? If you look at the difference in tenor between the on-camera briefings and the on-the-record-but-off-camera gaggles, it’s night and day.
One serious accusation that has come up throughout your tenure is that this is an Orwellian administration, the most secretive ever. I know — because I covered them — that this was said of Clinton and Bush, and it will probably be said of the next White House. I think a little perspective is useful. What I really reject — and would have rejected as a reporter covering this place — is this notion that whether a reporter is successfully doing his job depends on information he is being handed through the front door from the White House.
But won’t all these leak investigations produce a chilling effect? Len Downie [the former Washington Post editor] sat in this office as he was preparing a report about how we were producing a chilling effect, and I was able to take a copy of The Post and drop it on the table and point to yet another unbelievable national security leak. Reporters are still able to get stories and information that the administration clearly does not want them to have.
More at the link, including the “asset” that is Joe Biden and his unfiltered mouth.