White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that he’s enjoyed the tense week, during which he’s faced off with reporters over a trio of controversies that has the administration scrambling to battle its critics.
This week, two high-ranking IRS officials resigned amid a controversy in which the agency admitted to targeting conservative groups filing for tax-exempt status. Carney at times struggled through questions with reporters at a Tuesday press conference on the matter, and has faced criticism, including from former press secretary Robert Gibbs, over the administration’s “passive” response to the controversy.
In addition, the Department of Justice has been under fire for secretly seizing phone records belonging to the Associated Press during an investigation into a leak the White House says threatened national security. The administration has also continued to push back against Republican charges it wasn’t honest with the public about last year’s attack in Benghazi and that it didn’t do enough in the hours during the attack to protect U.S. personnel on the ground in Libya.
Carney has engaged in a number of heated exchanges with reporters during press briefings this week, but on Thursday said it was all a part of the democratic process.
“I don’t have a problem with that and it’s part of our democracy and part of what makes the process great,” he continued. “Some people have said you’ve really been on the firing line, and maybe it’s just me, but I’ve kind of enjoyed it.”
Although Obama has at times been criticized for the administration’s handling of government leaks and whistle-blowers, Carney said his experience as a journalist gave him a unique appreciation for the First Amendment. Carney spent nearly two decades as a reporter, most recently as Time magazine’s Washington bureau chief.