Times Profiles Press Secretary, Recalls his Classic Media Burn: “You are a hack!”

The New York Times recently profiled Jay Carney, Obama's new press secretary. The article covered Carney's background, and how world events have thrust him into the hot seat without much of a honeymoon period.

The job of a press secretary is a far stretch from the tech PR world that I inhabit, still I found that it was interesting to read about is background, and similarities and differences with Robert Gibbs those and others in the role previously,

Jay Carney was formerly a journalist, and covered politics before becoming the communications director for Joe Biden. The article explores how he fits into the administration, points out the benefits of having direct access to the chief executive when you are handling media relations, and of being a strategic advisor as well as a press representative.  It says:

But among the reporters who cover the White House, the question is whether Mr. Carney’s connections are the right ones. He does not report directly to the president as many other press secretaries have, but to the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer . Some are concerned that he will never have the access Mr. Gibbs enjoyed as a hybrid counselor-spokesman, a rarity among modern press secretaries.

The reporter does repeat some cliches related to media relations – e.g. it implies that you are at a disadvantage in media relations if you are not a rabid partisan, and also says press secretaries are bland obfuscators:

Mr. Carney took over from Mr. Gibbs in mid-February, and so far has avoided stepping into controversy. He has been quickly expanding his fluency in the blandspeak that all press secretaries must master.

On the other hand, it was interesting reading about Carney's burn of a Washington Post Columnist:

Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, recalled an e-mail he received from Mr. Carney while he was working for Mr. Biden. The subject line was “You are a hack.” The e-mail continued, “Fabrication is a legitimate tool — for fiction. You should try it; it suits you.”

Who out there in PR has not been sorely tempted to deliver a line like that?

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