New White House Press Secretary Part of Makeover
Thursday 27 January 2011
by: Michael D. Shear and Jackie Calmes, The New York Times News Service | Report
Washington - Jay Carney, the spokesman for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a former Washington bureau chief for Time magazine, will become White House press secretary as part of a final flurry of personnel changes in a months-long makeover of the West Wing.
William Daley, the new White House chief of staff, announced Mr. Carney's role in a memorandum Thursday that also announced more than a dozen other appointments intended to give the administration a new look and new energy after the Democratic losses in the midterm elections and heading into President Obama's re-election campaign.
Many of the personnel changes involve familiar faces in new roles at the White House. Nancy-Ann DeParle, who served as the administration's point person on health care legislation, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, who heads the president's scheduling and advance operations, will become deputy chiefs of staff. And Rob Nabors, who has served in the Office of Management and Budget, will now head the White House legislative affairs office, succeeding Phil Schiliro.
Mr. Schiliro will stay on for several months, Mr. Daley announced, as will Stephanie Cutter, a longtime Democratic strategist who will remain a senior adviser. Both had expressed a desire to leave the White House but were asked to stay by Mr. Obama, an official said. The current press secretary, Robert Gibbs, had previously announced that he was stepping down but would play a role in the 2012 campaign.
The changes "will bring greater clarity to our structure and roles and will enhance coordination and collaboration," Mr. Daley said in his memorandum to the White House staff. The circle around the president has begun to widen some as several of his closest confidants — including David Axelrod, a senior adviser; Mr. Gibbs; and Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff — have decided to leave the White House. David Plouffe, Mr. Obama's former campaign manager, has taken over for Mr. Axelrod in the office down the hall. Like Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Axelrod will play a role in the campaign operation that Mr. Obama is setting up in Chicago.
A senior administration official said the overhaul reflected three factors: filling the departures typical at a president's midterm; adjusting to a new dynamic in Congress that has Republicans holding far more power, and responding to "some valid criticisms" that the White House was too insular and too tactical. The official said Mr. Obama's inner circle asked, "to the extent there are valid criticisms of how we do things, how do we improve upon them?"
Ms. DeParle's primary responsibility will be to oversee the development of policy in the White House. Ms. Mastromonaco's role will be to manage the operations of the White House. She had previously been in charge of scheduling and the president's travel.
In choosing Mr. Carney to succeed Mr. Gibbs, the president is tapping someone who has not been part of his inner circle. Mr. Carney's relationship with Mr. Obama is certain to be different from that of Mr. Gibbs, who has worked for the president for years and who performed many of the functions of a White House senior adviser for the last two years.
Mr. Obama met with Mr. Carney over the weekend as he continued to remake his administration at the halfway point of his current term. He was chosen over several other candidates, including Josh Earnest and Bill Burton, Mr. Obama's deputy press secretaries; the deputy communications director, Jen Psaki; and several outside advisers. Mr. Carney will start in the next three to four weeks, administration officials said.
Mr. Carney is relatively new to the role of press secretary, but is known for having longstanding relationships with many in the Washington press corps. As Mr. Biden's chief spokesman, Mr. Carney has been involved in many of the administration's public relations efforts.
Among the challenges facing Mr. Carney when he takes over the podium in the West Wing briefing room will be keeping disciplined control of the message as the 2012 presidential cycle begins in earnest. And he will have to earn the trust of a press corps that fought frequently with Mr. Gibbs but also was aware that his relationship with the president was a close one. Reporters rarely doubted that Mr. Gibbs had the ear of the president and the authority to speak for him.
A senior White House official said Mr. Carney would be "a more traditional press secretary" but insisted that he would get into any meeting he wanted to and "have all the access he needs to do his job."
"If he needs to go get a question answered, he has the capacity to go get that question answered directly by the president," the official said.
This article “New White House Press Secretary Part of Makeover” originally appeared at The New York Times.
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