The Obama administration is unraveling, and the president’s chief media shield, Jay Carney, is heading for greener pastures.
Can you blame him? We sure can’t.
We have no doubt Carney – who resigned Friday, the same day as disgraced Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki – was well-paid as far as White House press secretaries go. But we can’t imagine any amount of compensation worth the emotional toll of having to cover for a chief executive as opaque and scandal-ridden as President Obama.
This is not to say Carney will be deeply missed. His relationship with the press, as Obama-friendly as they are, often was off-putting and sometimes downright adversarial.
Yes, a little professional friction comes with the territory when part of your job is to deny the obvious, minimize the negative and avert the embarrassing. More highly regarded press secretaries, such as Marlin Fitzwater, Dee Dee Myers and Tony Snow, often would joust with the Washington press corps.
But Carney took it to another level. He jabbed.
He was snarky. He was dismissive. And he was not above openly mocking reporters as being partisan for asking tough – though perfectly legitimate – questions.
Should we have expected more objectivity, or at least more professional courtesy, from a former Time magazine correspondent and the first press secretary in four decades to have actual reporting experience?
Probably. But considering what he had to work with, we should be thankful he showed up for work with an occasional smile.
When it comes to this administration, it isn’t easy accentuating the positive.