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