Jay Carney Strikes Back at Carney Derangement Syndrome

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, not surprisingly, has few fans among the conservative media, but for most of his tenure, has managed to avoid the sort of unhinged reactions that his predecessor, Robert Gibbs, provoked. This week, though, a charming little style-section profile in Washingtonian Mom set the conservative blogs frothing over everything from Carney’s apparently overflowing pantry, to his magical book collection, to his home podium setup, but most of all, his… anti-Nazi decorations? Why do conservatives love Nazis?

When I first saw this idiotic kerfuffle, I mainly disregarded it, except to try and get Noah Rothman at Mediaite to throw in what seemed like a pertinent fact (he refused). But, since Carney brought it up at the end of Friday’s White House daily briefing, and he’s been taking extra fire from the wingnuts this week, it’s worth noting.

As he concluded Friday’s daily briefing, Carney said, with a smile, “For some reason, some of you might expect that I have bounteous brunches at my house sometimes on the weekends,” Carney said with a smile, “but I assure you if I were to invite you this weekend, you’d find some cereal boxes and maybe a couple of eggs.”

He was referring to the deranged right-wing reaction to a Washingtonian Mom spread that was actually not even about Carney, but his wife, ABC News’ Claire Shipman (War on Women!), and included some charmingly staged shots of Shipman and the kids (War on Children!), along with a few shots that Carney gamely posed for. It was cheesy/funny because it was supposed to be, but conservatives went full Zapruder on the thing.

First, there were the “Soviet propaganda posters” that appeared in the background of one shot, which blogs like Breitbart.com, Redstate, and yes, Mediaite, blew up and freaked out over, while studiously omitting the fact that Carney and Shipman met in Moscow, and each worked there for years. To his credit, TheBlaze‘s Jason Howerton later added an update with that detail.

While some conservative bloggers took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the photo, The Heritage Foundation actually released a deadly-serious statement condemning Carney. What none of these folks have explained is that the posters in question are World War II recruitment posters, recruiting soldiers to fight the Nazis, and women to work in factories while men fought the Nazis. Why all of these patriots love Nazis so much is anyone’s guess.

Then, there was the shot of Jay behind a prop podium, taking questions from his kids with Clare by his side. Who doesn’t see a picture of proud children interacting with their dad and think “HA-ha! Whattajerk!”

But the real indictment of Carney in that photo is, as conservative sleuths with sharp eyes and dull lives discovered, the fact that the photographer altered the background of the shot, obviously to “make it look like they have a lot of books,” because displaying books is how the elites rub their book-larnin’ in flyover country’s face. Or because the photo editor thought it would improve the composition of the shot. Tomato, tomahto. Somehow, that photo editor’s sloppy Photoshop skills transfer to Carney.

What’s really amusing is the sheer deranged pettiness of this, best exemplified by the conservative critique of the brunch spread that Carney referenced at today’s briefing. “And you thought Washington cared about the crisis of starvation in East Africa,” opined Mediaite‘s Noah Rothman. “Sure, they will tell you they care, but $750 in produce, mounds of breakfast meats, at least 60 pancakes, an entire loaf of bread, what appears to be a plate of just butter, and an overflowing platter of pastries say something quite different.”

Funny how the go-to here was East Africa, and not, say, the United States of America, where conservatives are relentlessly butchering SNAP benefits. Actually, it’s not funny, but it is funny that the conservative blogosphere thinks professional photographers raid their subject’s fridge for whatever props they might need. News flash to conservatives: Carney also doesn’t actually have a giant Jenga set or a home podium, although I, personally, enjoy practicing up on my own set of uncomfortable blue vinyl airline seats.

Conservatives hated Robert Gibbs with a deranged venom that had a lot to do with his status as a longtime Obama insider, but Carney now seems to have arrived, as well. Like Gibbs, Carney now also enjoys attacks from the left, and his habit of cuttingly leveraging his journalistic experience has begun to receive some notice (I love you, Greta, but Fox News does, in fact, traffic in made-up stories about the White House visitor’s log). I don’t remember anyone ever going on tilt over a photo shoot of Gibbs’ family, though. Either Carney is really getting under their skin, or they’re just getting more deranged. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

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  • aceshigh

    Rothman has singlehandedly destroyed Mediaite.

    He’s a total hack and a deranged lunatic.

    • Schneibster

      Damn, that’s a shame. They were bringing the smack on the right wingnut media.

      Just another Libertardian takeover victim.

      • aceshigh

        Tommy was doing good work at Mediaite, but Rothman and a couple other libertarian “dudebros” have ruined the site, and the comments section is a wasteland of far right hate speech.

        Simply unreadable nowadays.

        • Schneibster

          I never conceived of Mediaite as a site to read. When I hear some particularly heinous claim by a Libertardian it’s one of the places I often find a refutation. I check references, and generally they’re OK. If they’re not I don’t use it, but that’s not something that’s happened before. I’ll be checking their claims more carefully from now on, but I was never really sloppy and I’ve never seen anything questionable.

          OTOH, I turned out to be wrong (provisionally, anyway) about LGF. So I’m not dismissing claims out of hand. This seems to be a very volatile time. I suspect there are a lot of Libertardian and racist forces gathering to try to prevent Obama’s last chance at getting our agenda passed. If we can take this Congress, we have two years to do this. Please vote.

  • formerlywhatithink

    Why all of these patriots love Nazis so much is anyone’s guess.

    They recognize a kindred spirit when they see one.

  • Schneibster

    I expect better from Mediaite. Sorry to see them go downhill.

  • Tom Blue

    More deranged? Wow. Thanks for this! I would have been scratching my head about Carney’s comment, had I watched the briefing. (It isn’t posted yet.) It’s great to have an inside bird’s eye view. I definitely would have missed the Washingtonian pictures — funny as hell. And the rightwing poutrage too. Even better!

    I confess I’m a huge huge Jay Carney fan, actually probably the finest PressSec in my living memory, and I’ve been watching since the mid- late- Reagan years. And I ha-a-a-ated Gibbs — he was incompetent, petty, arrogant, sarcastic. The worst PressSec in my living memory. Yes that includes Ari Fleischer and Dana Perino and whasserface Dee something in the early Clinton years. (I actually enjoyed watching Perino work the crowd — the WHPC was like a dog in heat during her tenure.)

    Thanks for the great piece! And I love it that it drove the wingers to new waves of outrage! Ha!

    • tommychristopher

      We all loved Gibbs because he’s the only press secretary in recent memory who could actually break news if you hit just the right angle. When he said stuff off-script, it was not just as a spokesman, but as a close confidant to the President. Most press secretaries are deliberately kept at a distance.

      • Tom Blue

        He used to put his foot in his mouth a lot, is that what you’re saying?

        I hated the way he would hang on the podium like the class clown. And he was frequently defensive and sarcastic when asked a perfectly reasonable question.

        I get what you’re saying but it’s not really their job to “break news” because of intractable foot-in-mouth disease. I was so glad when he got canned.

        • tommychristopher

          No, and your criteria are obviously different from a reporter’s. The White House beat is very tough to get news out of, because, as you say, the press secretary’s job is mainly to not say anything other than what they’ve already told us. Most press secretaries don’t *know* much more than what they’ve already told us. Gibbs knew stuff.

          • Tom Blue

            I get that it’s a different game for a reporter and hard on many days to get a good story out of the White House. And the truth is, while I may constantly denounce the WHPC in strong and derisive language, I actually have respect for a lot of the print reporters and the wires — I miss Ben Feller — who are real professionals and decent journos.

            Number one, it’s those massively pompous and vacuous teevee blowhards in the front row that earn you guys the contempt of just about everybody. You know that.

            Number two, it’s the double standard — glaringly obvious to the outside — that you all hold this Administration, AND (you are probably too young for this) the Clinton Administration. The WHPC worked in willing partnership with the Bush Administration to push the White House line, and they did it and liked it. As a group, just accepted everything the bushies had to say (and Reagan before that) with never a followup or piggyback off someone else’s question.

            Perino: “We don’t torture.”

            WHPC: “Oh. Okay.” (scribble scribble enhanced scribble interrogation scribble scribble.)

            Imagine if there were actual photos and eyewitness testimony that the Obama administration was torturing their prisoners to death.

            Anyway, I greatly appreciate your work here. Glad to have you.

    • Sam Brees

      Tom I totally agree with every word you say here with regards to Gibb and Carney. Gibbs was absolutely terrible as Press Sec. But Carney is the best I’ve seen. I don’t care for Ari’s politics are him personally, but I thought he did a fair job as Press Sec. for Bush. Dana was great to look at but she was a total lightweight. I actually thought Dee Dee did a good job for Clinton. Oh and Tony Snow wasnt my favorite person (kinda arrogant) but he handled the press well.

      • Tom Blue

        Thanks, Sam. I can’t stand Ari Fleischer at all, but I think he was *very* effective at his job. He had the WHPC hiding under their desks his entire tenure. And Perino was just what they wanted (and actually just what Fox wants) — a well-dressed blonde bimbo to repeat the company line. She kept the WHPC trotting at heel like obedient little puppy dogs. You’re right, very lightweight. Still is, of course.

        Snow (may he rest in peace) was kind of a meh PressSec — he was a showboater but a company man. Funny when he and David Gregory got into it over the shooting-in-the-face incident. Ha! Good times!

        DeeDee Myers (thanks for that) was okay but I liked McCurry a lot better, and Joe Lockhart. I wasn’t knowledgeable enough at the time to make any judgments on their performance, I guess.

  • http://www.replyall.me/u/markpelta5/ Mark Pelta

    Wow, that’s bad, but honestly Tommy, no surprise for those of us who have kept up with Rothman’s writings since he came to Mediaite. I know he’s a former colleague of yours and maybe he’s a nice guy on a personal level, but WADR, the dude’s one of the biggest hacks I’ve ever encountered.

    • Jane

      You’re so right. Plus, Rothman’s headlines are National Enquirer-like and he strains to create brouhahas where none exist.

    • tommychristopher

      It has always been my experience that, when matters of factual accuracy or completeness are brought to their attention, Mediaite’s editors immediately enforce those standards, no matter who the author is. Maybe they just missed that one.

      • http://www.replyall.me/u/markpelta5/ Mark Pelta

        Well, I could get into a tit-for-tat with examples of where I think that hasn’t been the case (without even getting into the thankfully brief Delgado era of Mediaite’s history), but I don’t think this is the appropriate forum so perhaps it’s best we just agree to disagree about whether said alleged standards are so enforced.

      • http://Matthewryanoverflow.wordpress.com/ Matthew C. Ryan

        Tommy, there are issues of accuracy in MANY of Noah’s pieces that scores of commenters point out with no change. Concha has had issues, too, where he even agrees that he was wrong in a comment but no update is ever posted to the piece. With Noah, he has a tendency to portray things in a manner that contradict the source he’s pulling his quotes from, leaving out relevant information that discredits his whole post.

    • tommychristopher

      Also, I don’t know Noah all that well, but it is almost certain that I’m a bigger asshole than he is, or most people, for that matter.