Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
Every presidential press office is like a house of ill repute. Its occupants are like ladies of the evening because they are paid to shout the equivalent of “I love you!” even when they don’t mean it. They are handsomely paid to fake passion for the chief executive and his actions. If the president demands that they exclaim, “Oh! You’re the best!” they will do so.
Of course, there can be some acts a press secretary – like some hookers – just won’t perform. In this case, his only option is to resign, enabling the president to hire somebody of more flexible virtue.
I can think of just one president’s press secretary who couldn’t overcome his differences with his boss. That was Jerald terHorst, Gerald Ford’s spokesman. He quit in protest when Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.
Usually, when presidential mouthpieces – or high-level staffers in general – depart, they just slide into one cushy job or another. They are taken care of. Often, they slip into top media jobs. Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary/chief of staff, Bill Moyers, left the administration in 1967 to become publisher of Long Island Newsday. (His record shows he did an excellent job.) Pierre Salinger, who also carried the water for Johnson, got himself appointed U.S. senator from California, to fill the term of the deceased Sen. Claire Engle. He lost the general election a couple of months later and then went to work as a news correspondent in Paris. Later, he did a number of jobs for ABC.
There are other examples of White House spokesmen moving into media. George Stephanopoulos, for example, was White House communications director for Bill Clinton. He oozed into an anchorman’s job at ABC TV. (However, his performance during last fall’s presidential debates showed he’s still a mattressback for the Democratic Party.)
And this brings us to Jay Carney, who has had to fake more orgasms for Barack Obama than Ron Ziegler did for Nixon. Things have been even worse for Carney than they were for his predecessor, Robert Gibbs.
Gibbs had the burden of a surname that rhymed with “fibs.” Carney’s name has no fortuitous rhyme, but it’s a word directly associated with hucksterism, as it is a term for the carnival barkers who work so hard to lure in the suckers.
But what will Carney do when he finally has to leave Obama’s service? He had better-than-decent journalistic credentials before he began explaining, re-explaining and re-re-explaining that administration scandals weren’t actually scandals and that lies weren’t actually lies.
Still, it’s hard to picture him as a talking head on network television. He has all the on-camera sparkle of a three-day-old cadaver.
No, he’ll wind up in media management, perhaps as an executive producer for a second-tier investigative TV show, or as managing editor for one of the shrinking number of national news magazines. If worse comes to worst, he can always go to work for former Obama hatchet man David Axelrod in Chicago.
Regardless, until the day of his departure from Obama’s team, he will continue to draw his $172,000 annual salary, and he will continue to explain that the Benghazi “offensive video” story was not a lie, that Attorney General Eric Holder is not a liar (or a perjurer), that the White House was ignorant – mainly – of IRS abuses, and that his boss is on top of his job, even though Obama knows little or nothing about anything.
Carney will do this because he has hitched his wagon to Obama’s political star, and is confident that when his press secretary tenure ends, he will be taken care of. After all, he need look no further than the Oval Office for proof. He’ll find Susan Rice visiting there.