October 26th, 2014
08:10 PM ET

Jay Carney on Obama's media habits and "governing by cable news"

President Obama maintains "a healthy distance" from cable news channels and other sources that emphasize "the political fight of the day," former White House press secretary Jay Carney told Brian Stelter.

"He doesn't watch cable news," Carney said, affirming what the president has himself said. But Obama does "voraciously" read news web sites, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN.com.

Here's a portion of the conversation:

STELTER: I wonder if there's some contempt, then, for this medium?

CARNEY: I think every president that I have known - covered as a reporter, and now worked for - has a textured, at best, relationship with the media, especially the Washington press that tends to focus and fixate on the sensational story of the day and sometimes at the expense of kind of looking more long-term.

And this president, look, he has strengthens and weaknesses like anybody else... [Obama] doesn't hyperventilate about political crises of the moment. He takes the long view. He is very cool-tempered and, you know, would often caution us not to get wrapped up in whatever the fight of the moment is.

Now, I think that's a strength, but also, it can also sometimes mean you're going to lose the fight of the moment in the media and in public opinion–

STELTER: It's arguably the reason he got elected in the first place - and then maybe hurts him now. I mean, the issue about not getting too wrapped up in the story, "the crisis of the moment," really intrigues me because...it makes it appear that the press's priorities are not his priorities, and then we have days and days of coverage basically bashing him on channels like Fox.

CARNEY: Sure. Look, I think that it's hard to find the sort of perfect balance, because you don't want, and I don't think any of us should want as citizens, a White House that governs by cable news or governs by Twitter. I think that would be very counterproductive for a long-term -

STELTER: "Governing by cable news." That's an interesting phrase.

CARNEY: In a sense that you're always reacting to the news sensation of the day is, and that's especially dangerous because the fires burn brighter than ever now because of the immediacy of social media and the immediacy cable news, but they burn out more quickly.

Filed under: Reliable Sources
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