White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted on Friday that, despite all appearances, he's had fun these past few days.
"For me personally, it has been a good week," Carney told the New York Times.
It may have been hard to spot Carney "enjoying the hot seat," as the Times put it, during a week in which he faced a seemingly unending stream of hostile questions about the three separate scandals the Obama administration is trying to tamp down. Far from appearing to have a spring in his step, Carney often had such a hangdog demeanor that the Washington Post put up a compilation of his saddest faces.
On Thursday, Carney also made the rounds of cable news, speaking to Chris Matthews, Piers Morgan and Lawrence O'Donnell. Just before he appeared on O'Donnell's show, the MSNBC host ran footage of the White House press corps grilling him over and over again, along with a clip of Jon Stewart saying that Carney "stood and let the wind and rain pummel him for our entertainment."
Carney faced such a battering that, during one briefing, CBS Radio reporter Mark Knoller actually asked him how he was holding up. He insisted that he was doing fine.
"It is a privilege every day to stand here, and I wear the so-called burden lightly because I believe in what we're doing and I believe in what we're doing in this room," he said.
Carney is also under particular fire because he is a former reporter representing a president whom the lawyer who defended the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case recently described as worse than Richard Nixon when it came to his attitude and policy towards the press. Speaking to Piers Morgan on Thursday, Carney cited his journalistic background in his defense of Obama's extremely aggressive policy towards leaks.
"As a reporter for 21 years, I am extremely sympathetic to concerns about the ability of reporters to pursue journalism freely, and so is the president, and that's why we have to find this balance," Carney said. "It is necessary for an administration, for a president, to ensure that the secrets that protect Americans abroad, and that protect our national security, are not leaked, because the consequences of that can be severe."
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