Take a moment to read the following quote in the Washington Post, and then try to guess who it comes from:
“I believe we have to be willing to ask tough questions but also not always be willing to accept a non-answer. When the answer is not responsive, I think we have a duty to continue to push. I don’t see it as going in there to be confrontational [but] as being pretty insistent about getting straight answers.”
That may sound like the life mission statement of a conservative journalist, vowing to be a watchdog of a liberal administration.
But it’s not — at least in the traditional sense.
It’s from Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl at ABC, which has never had to defend itself as a stalwart of conservatism. But Karl’s many run-ins with Press Secretary Jay Carney — and his defense of such actions — has him sounding more like a red-leaning writer than the liberal Boogey Man that many conservatives fear dominate the White House press room.
Professionally, Karl has been unafraid to challenge Carney. Case in point: Nov. 4. That’s when Carney got so upset with Karl’s probing on the failed Healthcare.gov rollout that he openly mocked him:
And then there was Dec. 18, where Karl mocked the recent “brosurance” ads featuring colloquial language and attempts at being hip.
“What do you make of some of these efforts by Obamacare supporters to reach out?” Karl asked, adding “I mean, some of them — the upside-down keg stands and whatnot. I mean, is anybody going to buy health care because Barack Obreezy tells them to buy it because it’s hot?”
During the president’s last press conference of the year on Friday, he asked Obama, “What has been your biggest mistake this year?”
But according to Karl in the Post, he and Carney are actually friends.
“I have enormous respect for Jay,” he said. “I think, in some ways, he’s one of the smartest people to hold that job. And I believe if he was sitting where I’m sitting, he’d be asking some of the same questions. I think he understands we have a job to do.”
He also called Carney a “pro.”
But it seems he’s not making a ton of friends in the press room by being tenacious. One colleague who would not reveal their name is questioning Karl’s, well, questions.
“How much of [this] is aimed at breaking news by getting Carney to crack under pressure, and how much of it is pure theater aimed at ratings, impressing bosses or otherwise gaining attention?” the person asked.
Karl is an established journalist, having worked for CNN and the New York Post before joining ABC.