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POLITICS: PennAve

Jay Carney on his lowest point as press secretary, how to change the White House briefing

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,PennAve,Media,Jay Carney

Outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney, conducting a goodbye tour, said Thursday there was a clear low point in his tenure as President Obama's top spokesman: the botched rollout of the federal Obamacare website.

“The most difficult period was dealing with healthcare.gov and its pretty awful rollout,” Carney said in a breakfast Thursday organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

“We had really not gotten it right,” Carney added, saying the technical disaster “made a lot of us worry about what would happen if we couldn’t fix it.”

The White House spent months explaining why Americans could not successfully sign up for the president’s signature domestic initiative. And Carney, whose last day is Friday, conceded, “This was on us.”

The journalist turned administration spokesman insisted Thursday that he had made no decisions about future career plans, despite rumors swirling about a possible CNN gig. The one-time Moscow correspondent emphatically denied any interest in becoming the U.S. ambassador to Russia, however.

And Carney, who held the press secretary post for more than three years, had some thoughts on how to improve the daily briefings with reporters.

The former Time magazine scribe suggested that the White House alternate between on-camera briefings and off-camera "gaggles" with reporters, saying that the more low-key approach can produce better information without the theatrics of a live-television event.

Carney also claimed that his transition from journalist to spokesman was not that difficult.

“I didn’t feel as though I had a straight jacket put on me when I took this job,” he said.

“I felt liberated,” he added.

Carney, who was the administration’s first response to a barrage of recent controversies, also made another claim Thursday likely to raise some eyebrows in Washington.

“The answer is no,” he said, when asked if he ever told a lie to reporters.

Carney explained that it wasn’t because he was a “paragon of virtue,” but that it would have been a “terrible way to do your job.”

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner

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