Jay Carney, Comforting the Powerful

The New York Times has a piece today (3/17/11) about new White House press secretary Jay Carney and how his background suits him for the job.

Carney was previously a reporter for Time magazine, and was apparently notmuch of a partisan–he “complained privately” that the magazine’s coverage of the 2008 campaign “was too lopsided toward Barack Obama.”

Carney’s friends say he’s good at making powerful people like him–a talent he apparently used to great effect as a journalist:

Mr. Carney, they said, always seemed comfortable around people in power and exuded a certain confidence that endeared him to some of the biggest players in politics.


“He’s able to put people at ease,” said Eli Attie, a close friend of Mr. Carney’s and a former political operative who now writes television scripts. He recalled the time he introduced his friend to Richard A. Gephardt, his former boss. Not long after, Time sent Mr. Carney on a trip with Mr. Gephardt, a former Democratic congressman from Missouri. The day of the trip, Mr. Attie’s phone rang. “The two of them called me from the tarmac. Just to say hi,” Mr. Attie said. “He already had a close enough rapport with the guy.”

When Mr. Carneyâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s editors at Time gave a party to celebrate his promotion to Washington bureau chief in 2005, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York insisted on delivering a toast. A Carney friend who is a close associate of the mayor had introduced them, and they quickly hit it off. And when Mr. Carney grew restless in his job at Time, an old friend introduced him to the newly elected vice president, who was looking for the right communications director. They, too, quickly clicked.

I have no idea whether Jay Carney has the right personality for his current job as a government spokesperson. But hedoes seemto have a knack for making powerful people feel “at ease.” And that’sapparently very helpful if you want tomake it in Beltway journalism.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.