Jay Carney was candid and often critical in his first interview since resigning as White House press secretary.
In a conversation with New York Times Magazine on Wednesday, he criticized the melodramatic nature of the reporters he faced off against, going so far as to wonder what value the White House Press Corps has at all.
“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,” he said. “You begin to wonder how valuable a service to the nation that is in the end.”
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“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.”
While it might not be surprising to hear a former press secretary bash journalists who sometimes antagonized him, Carney did work both sides of the podium, having covered the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as a Time correspondent.
“I’m proud of a lot of my work,” he said, referring to his days as a member of the press corps. “But if I had known then what I know now, I would have succumbed less often to chasing the same soccer ball down the field that everybody else was … I think the format reinforces a shallow approach.”
From the embassy attack in Benghazi in September 2012 to the Veterans Health Administration scandal in the spring of 2014, Carney was forced to navigate his fair share of scandals during his three-year tenure as press secretary, but he rejects the notion he prevented reporters from do their jobs.
“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.”
Since resigning as President Obama’s press pecretary and handing over the reins to Josh Earnest on June 20, the world tried hard to predict Carney’s next move. As TheWrap previously reported, many speculated he might join CNN. But the 49-year-old says he hasn’t yet made up his mind.
“I haven’t made any decisions about what combination of things I’m going to be doing,” Carney said. “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.”