Raise your hand if you’re surprised about this….Posted: February 1, 2011 Filed under: Barack Obama, Team Obama, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barack in the bubble, Barack Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, David Plouffe, Jay Carney, Robert Gibbs 12 Comments
Lloyd Grove has a veeeerrrry interesting post up at The Daily Beast on Obama’s new press secretary Jay Carney. Unlike Robert Gibbs, who had easy access to the president, Carney doesn’t even report directly to Obama. According to Grove Carney
is expected to be far more responsive to the needs of his erstwhile colleagues than the sometimes flippant Gibbs. The 39-year-old Gibbs, a trusted Obama confidant since the latter’s 2004 Senate race, has experienced occasionally tense relations with press room regulars and is notorious for not returning phone calls.
Carney is a champ at returning phone calls.
But he’s not an Obama insider—hardly an advantage when toiling for an insular politician who is naturally wary of newcomers and relies on a tight circle of advisers and intimates. Some White House veterans, including at least one former presidential press secretary, worry that Carney won’t receive the necessary access to Obama, and other policymakers at key meetings, to speak from the podium with the authority that Gibbs unquestionably enjoyed.
Carney will report “to White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, who in turn reports to senior presidential adviser David Plouffe,” according to this story in the Washington Post
With Carney’s appointment comes a major structural shift: All of the operations of the press and communications shops will move under the control of communications director Dan Pfeiffer. Previously, the press shop had reported to the press secretary. Carney will technically report to Pfeiffer, something of a downgrading of that role, although they are expected to function as equals.
Grove talked to Ron Nessen, Gerald Ford’s press secretary about the Carney appointment.
“If the press secretary is not reporting directly to the president, his boss, I think it’s going to be a disaster,” Nessen told me, adding that he made sure to meet with Ford every day at 11 a.m. for half an hour before briefing the press. “How can you accurately reflect the president’s thinking if you have to go through two layers? That was one of the conditions I made with Ford when I took the job—that I would have direct access to him, and that I could attend any meeting I wanted.”
Anne Compton, WH correspondant for ABC news also expressed doubts about the access Carney will have to Obama.
“I became suspicious when the president didn’t announce [Carney’s elevation]; Bill Daley did,” Compton told me, referring to the new chief of staff. “When Tony Snow came on, Bush announced it. When Scott McClellan left, Bush announced it. I think this time, it was stunning, and it was stunningly clear when the president did not make this announcement that the new press secretary will not be duplicating what Robert Gibbs has done for the past two years.”
Just exactly whom does President Obama deal with directly? I assume Axelrod was also a confidante, along with Gibbs, but they are leaving the WH. I know Valerie Jarrett is very close to Obama.
Anne Compton told the Daily Beast’s Grove that David Plouffe is the one who will be in meetings with Obama. So he’ll be briefing Dan Pfeiffer and then Carney will get everything from him?
It looks like Obama has decided to find a new way to give the press as little real information as possible. With Gibbs, it was dismissive, snarky treatment of press questions and refusal to return phone calls; with Carney, it will be friendly, responsive behavior, but little firsthand knowledge to share with the media.