Get To Know Jay Carney

And the target on his back

If reports are true, the White House will announce tomorrow that Jay Carney, the former Time magazine Washington bureau chief and current spokesman for the vice president, will be named as the incoming press secretary, taking over for Robert Gibbs.

We won’t judge before we see the man in the job, but you can bet the choice is going to be red meat to right-wingers who rail on MSM bias. Want evidence the MSM is in the Democratic Party’s pocket? Look whom the party appoints as its highest-level spokesperson.

Carney had worked at Time since 1988, and covered Washington for the magazine from 1993, before taking the job with Biden in 2009. You can see his Time bio here. Carney was a respected, non-partisan journalist—Joe Klein told Politico upon his appointment to Biden’s office, “I didn’t even know Jay was a Democrat.”

Still, while Politico reported then that he was often criticized by bloggers on the left for favorably covering Senator John McCain, there were a few hot-rod incidents towards the end of that campaign that are likely to come up when the announcement is made. And we could guess the blogs that will bring them up.

Likely to get some air is Carney and his colleague Michael Shearer’s testy interview with Senator McCain for Time in August 2008. Here’s a taste:

There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?

Read it in my books.

I’ve read your books.

No, I’m not going to define it.

But honor in politics?

I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?

I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of …

I think we’re running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

And there was this exchange with McCain’s communications director Nicolle Wallace on Morning Joe that September. The topic of discussion: why Sarah Palin was so media-shy.

Palin’s Tweet response to the announcement should be interesting to read.

It will likely also be noted that Carney is married to ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman. In an interview with the Post from March, 2009, he addressed that concern as it pertained to his job with Biden.

We’re figuring it out as I go. She’s not a beat reporter at the White House. That’s something she did before. She does some political stories. I tell her, ‘Call Gibbs, call Rahm’ or something like that when she’s working on something. Because I can’t be a source. But she’s cool with that.

Will Carney be a little friendlier with the media than some of his immediate predecessors? Here’s a hint from that same Post interview.

Well, I have to say I’ve yelled at a few reporters. No, I’m not going to say who. But look, people get it wrong sometimes…That was a little bit of a weird experience getting on the phone and chewing out a reporter or an editor for something I thought was totally wrong.

Weird way back then. We suspect he’s over that now.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor. Tags: , ,