Conor Culloton, Assistant Account Executive
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has one of the wildest, most demanding jobs in communications. His job is to present on-message stories regarding President Obama to the press. Being on-message in many industries is hardly as controversial as it is for a Press Secretary in politics. To compound Carney’s troubles, higher offices get more exposure which invites more scrutiny. Obviously, Obama wants a certain story to be told. He would not have hired Carney if he weren’t confident in his ability to steer the story in a politically beneficial direction.
In a recent press conference, Fox News reporter Ed Henry felt Carney was ignoring his questions, which caused him to leave the room. The actions of both men have observers scratching their heads. Was this a “shot across the bow” by Carney? Was Henry’s leaving the room an unnecessary act of defiance? Did Obama or an aide instruct Carney to ignore Henry? The answer is most likely yes to all of the above, and it demonstrates irresponsible use of journalism by both sides.
Americans are anything but satisfied with their public servants, comparing the actions of elected officials during the recent shutdown to those of surly middle school students. Politicians cannot afford to damage their public images any more, and there is no reason why they should make such brash decisions in full view of the media that shows a blatant disregard for how the public would react.
Media is a tool that can be used in many ways to the benefit of politicians. However, blacking out certain media outlets for their ideological bent, especially in times of partisan tension, may be a step too far. Moreover, Henry is not the first member of the White House Press Corps to be ignored during a press conference but leaving the room is not common protocol.
The state of partisan politics has everyone on edge. Perhaps we can get to a point where the press and the administration can have civil discourse without elevating tensions. In the end, cooler heads will prevail in the present political turmoil as it does in countless other dilemmas in life, and the White House Press Corps is not exempt from this rule. In fact, as the people behind the dissemination of information, they should be more committed to decorum.