Politics

Analysis: Carney obfuscates, while Boehner engages media on fiscal cliff [VIDEO]

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s frequent press conferences on the Hill are punchy, quick and usually dramatic enough to provide raw material for reporters.

In contrast, the White House’s press conferences are repetitive and verbose, and are often intended to smother unwelcome drama with a pillow of vague talking points.

Carney’s near-daily press events last longer that Boehner’s events, but Carney uses up much of the time repetitively pushing the administration’s poll-tested talking points, even when a reporter’s question is on a different topic.

On Dec. 12, Carney answered 24 questions in 58 minutes, offering an average of 245 words per answer, many of which were long-winded, repetitive and unclear. (RELATED VIDEO: Carney takes the podium after White House endorses Syrian rebels; rebels endorse al-Qaida group)

On Dec. 13, Boehner answered 13 questions in his 10-minute press conference, with an average of 35 words per answer. Three answers consisted of four or five words: “There is no such list. … I do oppose the idea. … I have no idea.”

On Wednesday, Carney’s first questioner asked whether a fiscal-cliff deal is possible by Christmas. He provided a brief response — “I can’t speculate about the time-frame” — but then added 219 words, repeating the administration’s budget-focused talking points.

On Dec. 13, ABC’s White House chief, Jake Tapper, sat in the front row and tweeted a haiku mocking Carney’s repetitive answers on the pending January 2013 financial crisis.

“Parameters/of an agreement are clear”/again and again,” he wrote.

But Carney and his team are ahead on points.

Fifty-five percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama “is making a serious effort to work with Republicans,” according to an early December poll by the Pew Research Center, released Dec.  13. Only 32 percent of Americans believe the GOP is serious about working with Obama, Pew declared.

Carney counters troublesome questions with his own version of boxing’s rope-a-dope strategy, smothering dramatic news by regurgitating long statements that are vague enough to make them unusable.

On Dec. 12, Carney was asked by The Daily Caller to justify his statement to the New York Times that administration officials “firmly believe” the main Syrian rebel groups want to establish democracy once the country’s dictator is removed.

In response, Carney simply repeated the “firmly believe” statement twice more.