England’s London Telegraph report on May 5, under the headline “Jay Carney is floundering under pressure, say Washington insiders,” noted:
“There is increasing concern in Washington that Jay Carney, the new White House press secretary, isn’t up to the job. Even when faced with an innocuous question that requires only that he trot out the official line, he looks completely stunned, as if the questioner is Bob Woodward asking him about Deep Throat. He gathers himself, embarks on a stuttering reply, pauses for what seems like an eternity, then starts gabbling, tripping over his words, rephrasing what he’s just said, then looking plaintively back at the questioner as if to say, ‘How did I do? Was that OK? Or would you like me to try again?’
“‘I think he’s doing very badly,’ says a political contact based in Washington. ‘And I’ve heard others say that he’s really struggling.’”
This Telegraph report went on to note:
“The White House’s handling of the media in the aftermath of [Sunday May 1's] events has been breathtakingly amateurish, planting seeds of doubt about the legality of the operation and about Osama bin Laden’s death that would not otherwise be there. The constantly changing narrative – or ‘fact pattern,’ as one White House official described it – suggests that the president and his advisers have been caught on the hop and have no clear strategy for dealing with the fallout from bin Laden’s death. This is epitomized by the halting, timid delivery of Jay – ‘How’m I doin’?’ – Carney, who must bear some of the responsibility for this communications failure.
“The White House press operation should be a well-oiled machine – and under Carney’s predecessor, Robert Gibbs, it sometimes gave the impression of being just that. But with Carney at the helm, it is more like that of a rinky-dink City Hall somewhere in the Deep South. …
“For the public face of the White House to be someone so lacking in gravitas is a PR disaster.”
In the Washington Times, columnist Wes Pruden also commented on the White House communications of the bin Laden action:
“What a roller-coaster ride: Osama bin Laden engaged the SEALs in a fire fight. Well, no, actually, it turns out he didn’t. But he did seize a woman, probably one of his wives, to use as a human shield. Uh, well, actually he didn’t do that, either. But he was armed, we know that for sure. Ummm, no, not really. OK, but we’re positive that woman was killed. Uh, not exactly. But we definitely, positively, absolutely know that Osama is dead. We have the photographs to prove it and the public can see them. Er, no, not quite. The president has them but you can’t see them. Everybody will just have to take his word for it.
“That won’t happen, either. There was a time when everybody took a president’s word for everything. But nobody trusts the government on anything anymore. Lies have withered public patience. …
“You might think the president would have rehearsed his minions in a story, even if concocted, so everybody would tell it like it is. The White House finally shut up with the explanation that ‘the fact pattern’ is still being evaluated. …
“The real offense of the Washington wimpery is pushing a weakling’s canard against the military, asserting that the photograph can’t be shown because it would make Muslim terrorists cross at us. …
“Americans come from Mars, so the witticism goes, and Europeans are from Venus. But that doesn’t include this president and his bungling minions. They’re weepy refugees from Pluto.”
A similarly devastating critique was all over the Internet, sent by BookwormRoom.com, which concluded with the following:
“The idiot, Carney – they actually managed to find someone who makes Gibbs look good – is currently twisting himself into knots trying to explain why the photograph the whole world was expecting isn’t going to be released. (Obviously the thing to do is get Trump on the case; he’ll force Obama to release it.)
“The military did great; the administration – or whatever that bunch is, kind of like ‘The Little Rascals’ – have managed to turn it into spaghetti. The story has changed so many times in the course of a mere three days it’s a joke.”