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During Briefing, Carney Fails to Answer a Single Question

by Keith Koffler on December 11, 2012, 9:28 am

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney held a briefing on Air Force One Monday in which he refused to answer a single question.

Over the course of the 14 minute session, the press corps aboard President Obama’s flight to Michigan asked 15 questions and received zero answers. Even on minor matters.

While White House press secretaries routinely dodge questions from the press, I’m not sure I can remember a briefing in which there weren’t any direct answers.

Carney at briefing

Your asking ME?

The failure to provide information is starkly at odds with the White House proclamation that the president is presiding over the “openness administration.” Rather, it shows a certain contempt for the role of the Fourth Estate, which is tasked with helping preserve freedom by ferreting information out of the government and sharing it with the public.

It is particularly surprising that Carney would treat the press in this manner, given his own background as having been for years one of Washington’s top political reporters. While it’s possible he is following orders from above, Carney actually seems strongly allegiant to the White House and President Obama – a true believer who has shed the skepticism bred into most good reporters.

What follows is an abridged version of the briefing. I’ve kept only Carney’s direct responses to the questions. Note I say “responses” and not “answers” – Carney did in fact open his mouth to speak. I’ve removed the verbiage added by Carney, also known as spin, that is essentially unrelated to the questions. Some of the questions have been shortened as well. But in no way is any of this out of context.


Q    What progress can you report from yesterday’s meeting between the President and the Speaker?

MR. CARNEY:  I can confirm that there was a meeting and that lines of communication remain open, but I cannot characterize the talks or conversations beyond that.

Q    Are there any other one-on-one meetings on the schedule for this week?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, as you know, I don’t preview meetings or conversations .  .  .

Q    Jay, is the President any more or less confident of a deal being reached before the end of the year after yesterday’s meeting?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I won’t characterize yesterday’s meeting or other conversations . . .

Q    What is the harm in telling the public simply whether we’re better off today than yesterday?  That kind of generic update on whether we’re making progress.

MR. CARNEY:  Because our interest is in seeing if we can reach an agreement and not trying to negotiate an agreement through the media . . .

Q    Do you agree with the assessment that it’s up to the White House to make the next move?

MR. CARNEY:  I can simply say that the lines of communication are open . . .

Q    Are you considering making a counter offer to the Speaker’s offer?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’m not going to characterize the conversations that we’re having . . .

Q    Jay, will the President weigh in on the Michigan right-to-work case while he’s here?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not going to preview the President’s remarks . . .

Q    Yesterday, the Speaker repeated what some others have said, that the President is slow-walking this, trying to build pressure on the Republicans and wants it to get up to the last minute. How do you respond to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I would simply say that we have yet to see more than a sentence of specificity from the Republicans on the issue of revenue . . .

Q    Jay, does the President think there’s any real risk to either the economy or to consumer confidence if this debate runs right up against — right up to New Year’s Eve?

MR. CARNEY:  You’re trying to create a situation where I’m naming a deadline, and I’m not going to do that.  The tax cuts  –

Q    — as long as it gets done on time, is that sufficient?

MR. CARNEY:  That’s market analysis that I can’t do . . .

Q    New topic.  There is a very important “Friends of Syria” meeting this week, as you know, in Morocco.  The U.S. has been moving in the direction of helping to build up the Syrian opposition, and there has been a lot of talk that maybe this is the moment for the United States to formally recognize the opposition.  What’s the White House’s view on that?  And do you believe that the time has come to recognize the opposition, and would that be an important step to resolving the terrible situation in Syria?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any previews for you of the meeting that you mention, which is important, except to say that we continue to be committed to the proposition that Syria’s future needs to be decided by the Syrian people . . .

Q    Has the President talked to the family of the SEAL team member that had been killed in the raid?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have a readout of any conversations of the President . . .

Q    Quick one on the trip today.  How would you describe the connection between where we’re headed, the President’s comments today, and the need to get a deal done on the fiscal cliff?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think the President — again, without previewing his comments, remains focused on his number-one priority, which is helping this economy grow, making the kind of decisions that enable it to grow and enable it to create jobs.

And the automobile industry is an important piece of that policy approach . . .

Q    Can I ask one question about the facility we’re going to? . . .  I’m just wondering about the symbolism of going to a Daimler-owned facility given Daimler’s rather checkered history in Detroit.  It’s not a particularly happy story.

MR. CARNEY:  In terms of one company’s past, I don’t really have a comment on that . . .

Q    Is the President getting any closer to deciding who he wants at the State Department and Defense Department?

MR. CARNEY:  Thank you for the opportunity to say that I have no personnel announcements to make today.


And after this, the reporters on hand, instead of fuming with outrage, meekly expressed appreciation for their odious treatment.

Q    Thanks, Jay.

MR. CARNEY:  You bet.  Good to see all of you.

{ 4 trackbacks }


Shofar December 11, 2012 at 9:44 am

Great piece of satire.

Wait, it wasn’t, was it?

Jeff1000 December 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Yeah, you just couldn’t make this stuff up. Satire is now truth, and truth is now satire.

Chas December 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

Not trying to negotiate through the meda? WTF???

Robin H December 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

Considering that he does all of his negotiations “through the media” by going on these stupid road trips, that has to be one of the stupidest comments ever, and there is a lot of competition for stupid.

Teresa December 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

I wish someone would do a video montage comparing the assertive press of prior administrations with that of the meek Obama lot.

CiscoKid December 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

” The president is presiding over the openness administration “.
Well, well, well, whose the bulls*****r now?

cincycinco December 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Ministry Of Truthisms;


Langley Spook December 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm

*Like* button.

(sad, but true…)

Robin H December 11, 2012 at 10:05 am

Keith, isn’t there one reported left who will actually earn their pay? Why do they put up with this crap?

DeniseVB December 11, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’m guessing perks and access. The press corpse sure seems to have a good time on these trips. Much better than that boring Crawford TX ranch, huh?

Julie Brueckheimer December 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

They are not self-employed, and the in-Obama’s-pocket media would fire them.

Susan December 11, 2012 at 11:37 am

So true, Julie. Money talks while true journalism cowers in the corner…

Keith Koffler December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Fear of losing access and perks. If Carney doesn’t grant one organization an interview with POTUS or omits giving them a little scoop being ladled out and gives it to someone else, reporter will be sad and editor angry. And with bottom lines so tight, everybody is frightened of being left out of a story. Sadly, many – but not all – have put this ahead of the first priority of journalism, which is to report the truth and ask the tough questions, no matter the consequences. And if the White House stops giving them scoops, there are other places to get them.

And then of course there’s bias – many reporters sympathize with Obama.

Jeff1000 December 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

In other words, “corruption”.

creeper December 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

“Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

DeniseVB December 11, 2012 at 10:11 am

I didn’t see the satire tag ?

One question I’d like to see is “Jay, are we wasting your time here?” :P

ImNoDhimmi December 11, 2012 at 10:14 am

Jay is certainly wasting the reporters time.

Julie Brueckheimer December 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

If someone asked that question, it would be brilliant. Unfortunately, they are all lapdogs.

Just2old December 11, 2012 at 10:16 am

This a good indication that our federation is in big trouble.

Otis Driftwood December 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

they could borrow a Disney animatronics robot from one of their displays and get better answers to press questions.

Looks like the press pool got a free ride in AF1 and lunch. (perks??) (j/k)

Maybe today’s press briefing will be somewhat better if someone remembered to give Blarney his talking points. But then again Mr. O didn’t really do much yesterday and has a big lunch date today. “It’s good to be the King”

gracepmc December 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

Welcome to the USSA. Jay is now barely a mouthpiece and the WH press is indeed a corpse. And the taxpayers are on the hook again for Obama’s love of AirForceOne and campaigning. All the while ValJar minds the store.

Girly1 December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

Arrogance, amatuerism and dysfuntion are the hallmarks of the entire Obama administration and the moribund press corpse that enables them. The inmates are running the asylum.

Gringo December 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

Jay Carney impresses me as a snot-nose arrogant little brat that needs a good butt-whupping to get his mind right. I would love to slap that little sneer off his face.

Susan December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

“Rather, it shows a certain contempt for the role of the Fourth Estate, which is tasked with helping preserve freedom by ferreting information out of the government and sharing it with the public.”

Sadly, there is no Fourth Estate any longer. Over the past four years they have morphed into Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. How else could someone like Preezy Revenge get away with so many unconstitutional and murderous act such as nationalizing businesses, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, ad nauseam… There is one thing these meek “journalists” are too besotted by this demagogue to understand. Once a totalitarian seizes complete control of a society, the journalists and intellectuals are the first to be exterminated because of their understanding of the power of documentation and history…

Star December 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

Can we say passive aggressive, boys and girls? Sigh.

Sadie December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

Carney really needs to put on a Porky Pig mask and end it with “That’s all folks”.

Lizzy December 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

Carney is a SNL skit only not funny.

cincycinco December 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

SNL hasn’t been funny for years, so you don’t need the qualification.

Lizzy December 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

True I’m old enough to remember the good old days when it was funny.

Island Girl December 11, 2012 at 11:54 am

They could all be unemployed tomorrow and we would not notice a difference. Pathethic!

GWShrub December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

It IS indeed pathetic…..and frightening…..and infuriating. I can hardly even watch the news anymore without screaming at the TV & calling everyone a dumbass.

Quintus Arrius December 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the President — again, without previewing his comments, remains focused on his number-one priority, which is helping this economy grow, making the kind of decisions that enable it to grow and enable it to create jobs.

And the automobile industry is an important piece of that policy approach . .
And where are the voters going to drive to in their new shiny Chryslers? A new job?, reload their EBT cards? upgrade their Obamaphones?
Is he focused on job creation when he is on the golf course?

Langley Spook December 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Just ask the sycophants who make up the “WH press corps”.

MichelleIndependent December 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The WH press has let itself become irrelevant.

The Business December 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Thanks again Jay!

pianogirl88 December 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

This sounds like the “non-answer” answers you could get from your teenager any day of the week!

Martha Trowbridge December 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Were this theater, the scene would be utter farce.

Yet I read Carney’s uber-sidestepping as indicative that a very serious situation is afoot at the WH. Obama knows the walls are closing in on him. He’s warned Carney to say absolutely nothing that can later serve to incriminate him.

bob December 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm

To all the sycophantic Obama supporters who are the press: he got your campaign donations, he got your vote, he got your breathless, glowing media coverage.. Now that he’s re-elected he doesn’t need you anymore. Deal with it.

William December 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

as usual NOTHING!