Outgoing White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday that he never lied to the media.
“The answer is no,” he answered when The Daily Caller asked him “did you ever lie to us?”
“Honestly, it is not because I’m a paragon of virtue, it is because that would be a terrible way to do the job,” he said at a June 18 breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
“And what you do when you can’t say is you don’t and you take the question or you explain what you can without revealing what you can’t say,” he said.
The White House sometimes can’t reveal information, he said, because of “internal deliberations and national security issues.”
In practice, since he began the job in 2011, Carney has tried to steer assertive reporters away from their difficult questions, often by describing a series of true but subsidiary and harmless information.
That tactic can be challenged by persistent questioning from front-row reporters, such as Fox News’ Ed Henry, ABC’s Jon Karl, or from Jake Tapper, who now works for CNN.
But Carney — and his successor, Josh Earnest — has a seemingly unlimited store of subsidiary facts, and can change the subject by asking another reporter to step in and offer a new (and easier) question.
When confronted with unfamiliar questions from a reporter, Carney said, “the best advice I had about the job was, ‘Never guess.’”
Because “if you didn’t know the answer, the surest way to get into trouble was to assume it and say it,” he said.
However, even good reporters know only about 15 percent of any issue, he said.