WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s choice as his new spokesman is a son of the Midwest who will soon be one of the most visible faces of the U.S. government here and around the world.
“Today the flak jacket is officially passed to a new generation, Mr. Josh Earnest,” Obama said half-jokingly Friday in introducing his choice to be the new White House press secretary.
The president named Earnest to replace Jay Carney, who announced Friday he was stepping down after 3 1/2 years of presiding over daily briefings, press conferences, thousands of miles of travel and the unpredictable whirlwind of the 24-hour news cycle.
“I am grateful and excited and relish the opportunity to spend the next couple of years working with you as you work to do that very important work,” Earnest told reporters. “And that job in this aggregated media world has never been more difficult, but I would argue that it has never been more important.”
Already the top deputy to Carney, Earnest is the son of a psychologist mother and a private school athletic director father from the suburbs of Kansas City.
He moves now into the center of the media storm in one of the most demanding jobs in Washington in terms of hours and portfolio. He’ll have to be on top of worldwide current events, almost instinctively know what questions reporters might ask, and serve as a traffic cop of sorts between a voracious adversarial media and a White House that relishes keeping its cards close to the vest.