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  • “This President’s” Spokesman


    The new White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, has been in the job for a couple weeks. How’s he doing?


    Earnest and Potus

    Not bad, so far. Of course he is enjoying the inevitable honeymoon period where most new press secretaries look good after replacing a predecessor who typically has burned a few bridges during their time behind the lectern.

    Earnest’s predecessor, Jay Carney, seemed to be having increasingly testy exchanges with the press corp and it was pretty clear that both he and they were ready for a change.

    Stylistically, Earnest is considerably smoother than Carney (so far, at least) less prone to barbed exchanges and seems to stick to carefully scripted talking points more than his old boss did.

    We have noticed one verbal tic that could get annoying. It is Earnest’s love affair with the phrase “this President.” He tosses it in with great regularity. Five and a half years into Obama’s time in office — it seems unnecessary to remind people what president you are talking about.

    In the ten formal press briefings Earnest has conducted since taking temporary ownership of the ceremonial flak jacket that goes with the spokesman job, he has used the phrase “this President” something like 35 times. In two of his briefings he trotted out the phrase 7 times each.

    In the CSPAN clip below Earnest manages to squeeze in three “this President”‘s in about thirty five seconds. In fairness to him, the reporter asking the question got one in as well.

    Every press secretary has his or her quirks. Carney had a penchant for saying “I appreciate the question” whenoften you knew for a fact he didn’t.

    The importance of Earnest’s “this President” tic is not great — but as someone regularly in the public eye — you want to avoid over reliance on any phrase and break yourself of the habit of relying on it before you find yourself featured saying it on Saturday Night Live.

  • There Oughta Be A Law

    If lawyers quit trying to act like media experts — we promise not to practice law without a license.

    No doubt SOME lawyers do a good job dealing with the press — but all too often we see examples like this one. MSNBC quotes Joe Yanny, an attorney speaking on behalf of his client Jesse James.

    James, a mini celebrity who modifies motorcycles for reality TV shows, is reported to have blown his marriage to film star Sandra Bullock because of  his dalliances with a swastika-wearing tattooed biker babe and three or four other women.

    Yanny’s spin?  He says his client is undergoing undisclosed “treatment” for personal issues. The lawyer told People Magazine that:

    “When all is said and done, he (James)  wants the same people who were living in his house before all this happened to still be living there.”  

    Hmmm.  Unclear whether Jesse is looking for tenants or a wife.  It also makes one wonder if he had any biker chicks living in the garage.

    But to make matters worse, Yanni turns to his own specialty — the law — and screws that up too.  He appears to try to make his client out to be a victim:

    “The First Amendment was not meant to cover the sexual lives of people who are not in office,” Yanny said. “This is sheer voyeurism and bullying, pure and simple. It’s disgusting.”

    Actually, although we are not lawyers — we are pretty confident that the First Amendment doesn’t say anything about whether people are in or out of office.  It simply says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.  How that helps his client — is a mystery to us.

    Some pro bono advice to Mr. Yanny: when your client, who has made a living in the media, finds himself on the receiving end of unpleasant — but apparently accurate publicity, whining about how HE was mistreated — is unlikely to be well-received in the court of public opinion.


  • Don’t Blame The Victim

    Bureaucrats regularly do dumb things. It is up to their bosses to apologize.

    Today’s example comes to us from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, where a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official reportedly made a 4-year-old developmentally disabled child remove his metal leg braces to go through an airport scanner on his way to Disney World.

    The lad’s father, a Camden, New Jersey cop, was understandably unhappy, asked to see a supervisor, but got no satisfaction. The incident happened nine months ago.

    The sorry tale was described in a Philadelphia Inquirer column just yesterday and included the fact that the top TSA official at the Philadelphia airport had called the boy’s father to apologize and to give him a special number to call if he ran into any difficulty in the future.

    A TSA spokeswoman admitted that the boy should never have been forced to remove his braces but she didn’t help her case by adding that she wished the boy’s father had complained sooner, saying:

    “If screening is not properly done, we need to go back to that officer and offer retraining so it’s corrected.”

    The boy’s father DID complain to a TSA supervisor on the spot and was apparently ignored.  So in addition to causing the family distress, the TSA is now complaining that they didn’t complain correctly?  Dumb.  The TSA spokesperson should have just taken her lumps and not try to have the family share responsibility for correcting TSA employees.