Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Corruption of Jay Carney

On November 28, 2012, during a press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney–in addressing the matter of the talking points the Obama administration used to characterize the attacks on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi–said this:

The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two, of these two institutions were changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility,” because “consulate” was inaccurate.

We now know that statement was false. Enormous substantive changes were made at the request of the State Department. And it’s not simply that changes were made; it’s that the changes did violence to the truth. With each new revision, the story became less and less accurate, so by the time U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talk shows, a massive fabrication was being peddled. And the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state all participated in the false narrative.

Yet on Friday, during his on-camera briefing, Mr. Carney was asked repeatedly whether he or the administration deliberately misled reporters last fall about the changes in the talking points. “Mr. Carney,” the New York Times reports, “expressed no regrets.”

“I do stand by that,” Mr. Carney said of his statement that the White House changed only a word or two to make clear the diplomatic post in Benghazi was not referred to as a consulate. “White House involvement in the talking points was very limited and nonsubstantive.”

Except that what Mr. Carney said in November is that neither the White House nor the State Department made substantive changes. In addition, as ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported, “Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote an email saying the State Department’s concerns needed to be addressed. ‘We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.  We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.’” And third, the White House hosted a Deputies Committee meeting on September 15, out of which emerged the final, false talking points.

So Mr. Carney obviously misled the public in November; the only question is whether he did so willfully. Yet rather than admit to his multiple misleading statements in the past, Carney blamed Mitt Romney and Republicans. The spin Carney used was transparently dishonest. He constructed a false reality to defend himself and the administration. In the process, he has merely further damaged his credibility. You can watch the whole painful press briefing here

Once upon a time, Jay Carney was a journalist who wanted to search for truth. Now he is an Obama White House official awkwardly attempting to hide it. He is now part of a cover-up. The questions are just how wide and deep the cover-up extends, how many more falsehoods the Obama White House will employ in its defense, and whether being played for fools by a liberal administration will bother the elite media and White House press corps.

We’re about to find out.