Russia will celebrate its country's journalists on Monday, but America doesn't need a national press day to honor journalists, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who once reported for Time magazine in Moscow, said Friday.
White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Questions for Carney ranged from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the president's meeting with members of Congress about a review of signals intelligence programs. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The official holiday is called “Day of the Russian Press.”
Carney took a question from Andrei K. Sitov, the Washington bureau chief for the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
“On Monday, the Russian journalists will be celebrating be celebrating their professional holiday, the national day of the press in Russia. Living here, I've often wondered that the enormous amount of different causes that I recognized here, all kinds of national days, national weeks, national months, why is there no national day for the press?”
The question prompted laughter in the White House press room. CBS's veteran radio reporter Mark Knoller joked, “every day is a national day for the press.”
Before giving an answer, Carney said, “I don't think I ever got to celebrate that, even when I was living there.”
“I think that the view that the American people have about – if not the media itself – but about the importance in our democracy that our free media play is enshrined in our Bill of Rights,” Carney said. “When you've got that, you don't need a holiday.”
Sitov followed, “So basically people here do not deserve a holiday.”
Carney answered, “Well, they avail themselves to certain holidays. There's one coming up.”
Russia's National Day of the Press is on Jan. 13 every year to commemorate the day that Russian Czar Peter the Great established the country's first newspaper in 1703, Sitov told TheBlaze after the briefing. The country began celebrating the holiday in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Sitov explained that “unlike in America,” the government of Russia gives awards to journalists for reporting. He said various other press association awards are also bestowed that day and includes celebrating with cocktails.