President Obama's toughest interview of 2012 wasn't with a nightly news anchor, a newspaper, or even one of his critics at Fox News - it was with Jon Stewart.
So said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a talk Thursday at George Washington University. It was a high compliment to the "Daily Show" host. But it was hard not to read it as a critique of the conventional news media.
"I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And the answer was yes, again, because young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch 'The Daily Show' than some other news shows," Carney began.
"But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of 'The Daily Show.'
Conservative news outlets, including The Drudge Report, jumped on the statement as evidence that the news media is in the president's pocket, unwilling to ask him difficult questions. Drudge linked to Carney's comments with the headline "Press Shame."
In the same talk, Carney defended Obama's "Between Two Ferns" interview with Zach Galifianakis to promote Obamacare to young people. Carney noted that it was never presented as "an interview with the media."
© 2016 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.