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White House change of style: Jay Carney takes podium as new press secretary

Former journalist Jay Carney, Obama’s new press secretary, briefed White House reporters for the first time, hinting at a style that was less combative and more inclusive than his predecessor's.

By Dave Cookstaff writer / February 16, 2011

Jay Carney holds his first press conference of the Obama Administration

Gary Fabiano/Sipa Press/Newscom

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Washington

Former journalist Jay Carney faced a packed White House press room Wednesday to deliver his inaugural briefing as President Obama's new press secretary. The 53-minute session was both less combative and more inclusive than some of those presided over by his predecessor, Robert Gibbs, whose term ended Sunday.

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“I do work for the president but I am also here to help the press,” said Mr. Carney, a former Washington bureau chief for Time magazine who reached deeper into the briefing room than usual to field questions from reporters. His job, he added, was to “give the best information I can give.” In response to a question later in the briefing he added that he wanted “to work with you … to get the access that we can give and that you need.”

Every seat in the briefing room was filled and reporters and photographers crowded into the aisles to watch Carney’s initial briefing. “I really appreciate the turnout,” Carney said dryly as he took the podium. “I have never seen this room this crowded.”

IN PICTURES: Inside President Obama's White House

In his opening remarks Carney, who served as Vice President Joe Biden's communications director for the last two years, stressed his loyalty to the president. That was a given with Mr. Gibbs, who had been with Mr. Obama since his campaign for the US Senate.

“We obviously all here serve the president,” Carney said in response to a question from AP correspondent Ben Feller. “I work to promote the president and the message that he is trying to convey to the American people. But I also work with the press to try to help you do your job.”

Questions on budget and Middle East

He talked about the meaning behind the location of the press secretary’s office in the West Wing. “It is somewhat symbolically located about halfway between the briefing room and the Oval Office, and I think that says something about what the nature of the job is.”

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