The Stress of Being White House Press Secretary

Much weight falls on the shoulders of the executive branch's mouth.

What's the Latest?


As Jay Carney exits the Obama administration and the amusingly-named Josh Earnest prepares to become the 30th White House Press Secretary, the Washington Post is running a fascinating feature on the men and women who have occupied that high-stress position. Paul Farhi, who penned the article, notes that Jay Carney is something of an iron-man among his peers, having survived (there's no other verb that really works here) the job for over 3 years. The last White House Press Secretary to make it that long was Mike McCurry, who served in the Clinton administration from 1994 to 1998. Seven different people held the job between McCurry and Carney.

What's the Big Idea?

Think about all the things in life -- either in work or at home -- that bring on stress. Over-commitment is a big one. Never being able to unplug is another. Now imagine coupling all that with a vicious travel schedule and having to face the bloodhounds of American media on a daily basis. Plus, everyone seems to hate you:

“You walk into the briefing room and the reporters yell at you because you haven’t given them enough. And you walk into the next room and [White House officials] are screaming at you for telling the press too much. That’s when you know you’ve hit the sweet spot.”

That's Clinton administration spokesman Joe Lockhart, who held the post from 1998 to 2000. Still, Lockhart considers the Press Secretary gig the best he ever had. You wonder if he would feel the same about it if he had to do it in Carney's era, with the 24-hour news cycle now supplemented by social media and the Twitterati.

If Josh Earnest can learn anything from the men and women who have gone before him, it's that he should think about his future job prospects for late 2015. He should also be prepared for the imminent avalanche of articles headlined "The Importance of Being Josh Earnest." I know I am.

Read more at The Washington Post 

Photo credit: spirit of america/Shutterfly

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