Not yet a celebrity, new White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest learned the hard way today, you have to earn the media's compliance. Despite an endorsement from President Barack Obama, a veritable get-out-of-scrutiny free card from the mainstream, Mr. Earnest was blindsided by a press pool that was not entirely obsequious.
ABC's Jonathan Karl and pretty much everyone from FOX did their best to keep former secretary Jay Carney honest. Though the task was tantamount to drawing blood from a bloodless stone. Having earned the job, Josh Earnest was no doubt prepared to weather the occasional inquiry from this spattering of adversaries. Pressed hard today by presumed White House surrogates from the Huffington Post, Bloomberg and CBS may have Mr. Earnest questioning his recent career choices.
In appearances leading up to his official assumption of power, Josh Earnest has demonstrated an aptitude, even affinity for dismissing questions from unkind corners of the briefing room. Having watched hours of Jay-Carney tapings , Earnest was jumping at the chance to belittle the petty concerns of ignorant Americans when voiced by the likes of Karl and Ed Henry. In his debut last week, Earnest unleashed the phrase "Republican conspiracy theory" with the glee of a preteen female introducing Justin Bieber. He came out today, prepared to sacrifice some conservative lambs, only to find the room full of unfamiliar wolves.
It took months before Jay Carney became frustrated to the point of storming prematurely from the room. Earnest did it on his first official day. Caught in a contradiction by Real Clear Politics reporter, Alexis Simendinger, Earnest sought to shame and silence him. When the dismissal backfired he turned to scorn, telling Simendinger, "You don't have to get all exercised about this."
When other reporters pitched in support for Alexis, rather than rotten tomatoes and their own shoes, the new press secretary's inexperience came shinning through, along with a potential personality disorder. The man has thin skin. This is not going to serve him well, especially if the presumed loyalists in the press corps don't automatically shield him from adversity.