In my having covered every White House press secretary since Richard Nixon’s Ron Ziegler, I cannot recall any of them being called “a paid liar” by any member of Congress.
But the present press secretary, Jay Carney, was described as “a paid liar” on CNN by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.
That, understandably, led Carney to be questioned about it at a subsequent press briefing.
Despite this very serious charge that he is a purchased fabricator – about which he was asked at an on-the-record press briefing – the clearly maligned Carney declined comment.
Chairman Issa went on to declare:
“The president’s spokesman is saying whatever is convenient at the time.”
In other words, he is not telling the truth, but instead is saying “whatever is convenient.”
White House press secretaries almost invariably do their best to try to defend their presidents.
But I am unaware of any Barack Obama defense of Jay Carney after Carney’s being denounced as a “paid liar.”
Perhaps both the president and his press secretary thought it would be wiser to ignore such a charge. But since it came from a congressional chairman, it was serious enough to evoke questions about it at a White House news briefing.
And yet the very serious charge that the president’s spokesman is paid to lie went unchallenged by both that spokesman and, to the best of my knowledge, by the president as well.
Perhaps it is now time for the president to retire Carney and select a new press secretary.
That might be the case, but for the fact that a person of any talent and experience for this job would probably be reluctant indeed to serve a president who refuses to defend, and instead end, the service of his congressionally denounced press secretary.
On the other hand, Carney, having been so strongly denounced by Chairman Issa and not defended by the president, may well decide to wait a bit and then leave.