White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that he doesn’t lie.
But his office did lie on Monday for national security reasons.
On Monday evening the White House’s press office distributed a fake Tuesday schedule for the president. The deceptive document went to the White House press corps, and to the many other media outlets and non-media groups that track the president’s schedule.
“In the afternoon, the President and the Vice President will meet with Secretary of Defense [Leon] Panetta in the Oval Office,” said the 6:31 p.m. email, titled “Daily Guidance and press schedule for Tuesday, May 1, 2012.”
The guidance also announced that Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, would give a press briefing at 3 p.m.
Several minutes before the scheduled briefing, the first pool report came in from reporters traveling with the president. “President Barack Obama is in Afghanistan for a whirlwind visit that will culminate in a live, televised address to the American people,” said a 2:56 p.m. pool report from Kabul.
At 3:06 p.m., Carney’s office released a new email. “Updated: There will not be a daily press briefing today,” it said.
That planned deception was intended to deny the Taliban any warning of the president’s surprise May 1 visit to Kabul.
Few Americans, and very few of his political rivals, will complain about the White House’s anti-Taliban deception, but it starkly contradicts what Carney said at a meeting with student journalists on April 27.
“When I go and stand up in front of the podium, in front of the White House press corps, I never lie. I never say something that I know is not true,” Carney said at the meeting, hosted by National Journal.
Carney made clear, however, that his commitment to not lie does not preclude evasive answers or a refusal to answer. When “I know more than I can say — I answer it in a way that is truthful without obviously betraying the things that I can’t say for national security reasons or other reasons,” Carney said.
“It’s a fundamental principle of doing the job that, for the folks who cover a president, they have to have some faith — substantial faith — that while they know I can’t say everything, and those who work for the president can’t say everything, what we are saying is true.”