Communication breakdown: Jay Carney has trouble in the press pool

Jay Carney had no idea he would actually have to field tough questions in this job. Photo: Jay Carney/ AP

WASHINGTON, November 6, 2013 — Over the last five years, President Obama has enjoyed the glow of media attention at a level and brightness far exceeding any other president in the history of our nation. The cool, confident, swaggering one term senator from the Windy City captured the American liberal media the instant he took national stage. He could do no wrong, he could take no blame, and he could tell no lie.

Until now.


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Jay Carney has enjoyed two years of smooth sailing as White House Press Secretary when it came to fielding hardball questions. He has enjoyed a White House Press Corps that his boss’s predecessor would have been overjoyed to have had during his tenure. President Obama speaks, and the WH Press Corps would fling their chairs aside, sit on the carpet legs crossed, elbows on their knees, head in hands staring starry eyed at their friendly neighborhood President. It was smooth sailing to say the least.

But as the nautical proverb goes, “Smooth seas make for poor sailors…”

Now, Jay Carney, the ringleader of the political spinster circus in the most amazing propaganda show in the world, is looking less and less like wise cracking Jack Sparrow, and more and more like the kid using buckets to get the water out of his row boat. 

For the first time as WH Press Secretary, Jay Carney is forced to field tough questions.


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At a WH press conference, ABC’s Jon Karl posed questions about the Presidents statement that you could still enroll in Obamacare through the phone lines or by snail mail. As it turns out both of those options have to go through the website in order to complete enrollment. And when Jon Karl called Carney out on the fact that both he and the President said that you would only have to be on the phone for 25 mins to enroll a single person, Carney attempted to deflect by making fun of Karl’s speech pattern.

Jay Carney, the man who is the voice of the President, could not answer a straightforward question by a member of the Press and as a result he deflected and chose to make fun of him instead. Just like a disgruntled 16 year old girl would do.

Then, Ed Henry of Fox News grilled Carney over the fact that the WH knew that millions of Americans would be dropped from coverage.

HENRY: Jay, obviously the words the President said three years ago have been picked over many times but what about what is it just over a month ago, September 26 in Maryland he had an event right before the actual rollout. One of the things he said was quote “If you already have health care you don’t have to do anything.” You can only say that was not true, right?


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CARNEY: Look, as I said last week, I accept that, you know –communications are challenging here…

“…communications are challenging here…”

Talking in front of an audience is difficult, yes. That’s why we have public relations professionals…Like Jay Carney.

The job of this man is to represent the President of the United States of America to the people of the United States of America through “communicating” to them the issues and concerns that the President wants addressed. As far as public relations jobs go, this man is at the top of his field. You cannot go much higher in his particular area of expertise than “the man who speaks for the leader of the free world.” But for some reason, this particular man finds words difficult to say, despite the fact that words and communication are his profession.

What if President Obama came out and said “being President is tough…” Would you have any sympathy for him? Jay Carney took the job as White House Press Secretary, which is a communication based occupation. He has to communicate on a daily basis. The President of the United States said “If you like your plan you can keep it. Period.” And now it turns out that is not true. Perhaps Carney should have better prepared himself for this eventuality considering that he has known about it for three years.

But what does Carney’s lack of preparation suggest here?

Maybe it is that despite lying to millions of Americans, the WH thought that the Press, which for the most part has been wagging its tail like a dog seeing his best friend every time Carney or the President walks in the room, would continue to lob softball questions at them in as they had done since 2009.

Perhaps this is Carney responding to the rude surprise that the Press is actually doing its job, and that for the first time ever he has had to field real questions from ticked off members of the Press who have been told time and time again that no one would lose their coverage. Did Carney think that they would get another pass like so many before? Perhaps, and perhaps this is the beginning of a lot of hard posed questions that will force Carney to eventually be truthful with the American people.

Ed Henry has been at Jay Carney for months if not longer over Obamacare and every other issue you can think of, but that is Fox News. Fox News will always pose the hard questions to Liberal presidents the way that Liberal news outlets will to Republican ones, and thus far have been dismissed by most outlets as crying wolf on Obamacare.

But with Jon Karl from ABC starting to make waves for Jay Carney, the smooth ride the WH Press Secretary has enjoyed so far may be getting a little bumpy. Carney will of course respond with his trademark derision, defamation, mockery, and inability or unwillingness to answer a straightforward question.

Up until now, Jay Carney has been a grown man at middle school soft ball game. He hits every pitch out of the park, and if he doesn’t like the pitcher he complains and makes fun of him until someone else comes up to throw. First it was just Ed Henry who didn’t bother him much because he was just a lone crackpot among a sea of doting fans. But then it was Jon Karl.

Now with more than one cable news reporter throwing hardball questions at him Jay Carney is throwing tantrums and demanding his juice box. It’s only a matter of time before he picks up his ball and goes home.


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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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