Carney: My Job Was to Defend Obama's Policies, Positions

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 01:47 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Outgoing presidential press secretary Jay Carney said his job was to defend President Barack Obama's "policies and positions."

Obama announced Friday that Carney will be stepping down from the position he held since predecessor Robert Gibbs left in 2011. Carney told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he "fell into a job that I loved" when he first went to work at the White House for Vice President Joe Biden. After Gibbs left, Carney said the president asked him to take his place.

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Carney said that spending five-and-a-half years working at the White House has taken a toll on his family, where he wasn't able to be "fully present" with his children. The president said Friday Carney would be spending "as much of his summer as he can with his kids before he decides what's next for him."

The atmosphere in press briefings in the last several years had become more "combative" with an "element of theater," Carney told MSNBC. While describing himself to be an "old school" journalist when he worked as the Washington bureau chief for Time magazine, he said the position of press secretary caused him to assume a different role.

"When you work for the president, you are there explaining and defending his policies and positions, which I happen to believe are the right policies and positions," Carney told "Morning Joe."

Carney said in an atmosphere where it was difficult to keep secrets, he felt it was "pretty gratifying" that the announcement of his departure was a surprise.

"Stuff leaks all the time. But I think it's fair to say that the reporters in the room were a little surprised when the president walked out and joined the briefing on Friday," he said.

Though there had been some moments of tense exchanges between Carney and members of the media while press secretary, he said he had "a tremendous amount of respect for the folks in the briefing room, the reporters who work hard every day trying to get it right."

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