August 15, 2022

Carney out as WH spokesman

White House press secretary Jay Carney is resigning as the White House’s principal spokesman.

President Obama announced the move in a surprise appearance during Carney’s briefing and the same day he accepted Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation.

Carney will leave his job next month, and he’ll be replaced by his deputy, longtime Obama aide Josh Earnest.

Obama hailed Carney as “one of my closest friends” and a “great press secretary.” Carney has been Obama’s press secretary for the last three years.

“He’s got good judgment; he has good temperament, and he’s got a good heart,” Obama said. “And I’m going to miss him a lot. I will continue to rely on him as a friend, an adviser after he leaves to spend as much of his summer as he can with his kids before he decides what’s next for him. Whatever it is, I know he’s going to be outstanding at it.”

The president said Carney had first approached him about leaving the White House earlier in the spring. Around that time, rumors surfaced that Carney was interested in pursuing the job as U.S. ambassador to Russia.

On Friday, Carney said flatly he was not interested in that job, which remains open.

“I can assure you that my family, having won me back, would not be happy with that outcome,” Carney said.

A veteran Time magazine reporter, Carney served as Vice President Biden’s spokesman before taking over the White House briefing room podium.

He said being the press secretary had been an amazing experience, and did not provide specifics on his future plans.

“I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’ve managed over the past months to have some conversations about what my future might look like, and I’m excited by some of the possibilities,” he said.

Obama has a long history with Earnest, who began working with Obama on the 2008 campaign.

“Josh was my Iowa communications director, and even when he was in that role, you’d find him spending an extra hour or two helping young staffers make phone calls or knock on doors,” Obama said. “There was no task that was too small, no detail too unimportant for Josh to attend to.”

Obama also praised Earnest’s “golden voice and dulcet tones” on the White House’s weekly “West Wing Week” video series.

Earnest called the opportunity to serve as press secretary a “genuine honor.”

“It has never been lost on me what a genuine honor it is to stand before you. Some of that honor is derived from the fact that it is an opportunity to represent the president of the United States — and not just any president, but this president, one that I believe so strongly in and one who is pressing an agenda for the country that I think is important and beneficial for this country,” he said.

The selection of Earnest came despite speculation that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was in line to replace Carney.

Psaki, who served as the president’s campaign spokesperson in 2012, left the administration for the private sector shortly after Carney was chosen to succeed Robert Gibbs before later returning.

Psaki tweeted her congratulations, calling Earnest a “long-time talented colleague” who would “do a great job” in his new position.

This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.

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