Newly installed White House Press Secretary Jay Carney spent his first day on the job officially staying away from the White House briefing room.
Carney, who replaces former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, decided not to speak to the nation today. The decision surprised and disappointed White House reporters, who presumably will have to wait until Tuesday to get a crack at President Obama’s new spokesman.
Carney has never briefed from the podium, and his first appearance will be a high-stakes, high-pressure affair. Not only does he have no experience under the klieg lights, but he has only been in the business of answering reporters’ questions for two years. He was a journalist himself before going to work as Vice President Biden’s spokesman at the start of the administration
Carney’s avoidance of the briefing room carries some peril for President Obama, who is releasing his budget today. Normally on “budget day,” a briefing by the OMB director and possibly other economic aides is followed by an appearance by the press secretary, who is more adept at “spinning” the all-important document and who can also clean up any mistakes made by his wonkish colleagues. Last year, Gibbs briefed soon after Obama’s economic advisers were finished.
Carney informally took one question during Obama’s trip this morning to the Baltimore area. Asked how it was going, he said, “Great. So far so good.” And he related a conversation between Obama and a woman who is a teacher at the school he is visiting.
“I love your enthusiasm,” Obama said, according to Carney. “I just love what I do,” the teacher replied
UPDATE 7:18 pm: The Obama schedule for Tuesday is out. There is no mention of a briefing by the press secretary. When there is going to be a briefing, it is usually on the schedule.