Former White House press secretary Jay Carney in a new interview criticized reporters for being “shallow” in their coverage of the Obama administration.
Carney told the New York Times Magazine that the White House press corps mindset of “chasing the same soccer ball down the field” results in a “shallow approach.”
Carney, who covered the White House for Time magazine, said he’s “proud of a lot” of his own work as a journalist, but “if I had known then what I know now, I would have succumbed less often to” the uniform type of coverage.
After a tenure marked by sometimes combative interactions with members of the press, Carney also hit out at “theatrical” reporters whom he said play to the TV cameras.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Carney, who has leveled similar criticisms in the past, also defended the Obama White House from the charges that it is “Orwellian” in nature.
“[T]his was said of Clinton and Bush, and it will probably be said of the next White House,” he said. “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 asked whether he would have fought with himself, he acknowledged, “Probably a little bit.”
Carney said he hasn’t made any decisions about “what combination of things” he’s going to do next, but said he won’t be out of the public eye completely.
“I’m not going to go back to being a journalist full time, but I may write a bit. I’m not going to disappear from view,” he said.