- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2013

White House reporters sometimes poke fun at press secretary Jay Carney’s penchant for using the phrase “I appreciate the question” during briefings — especially when it’s clear he likely does not, in fact, “appreciate” a tough or awkward query.

But a Yahoo! News analysis identifies “13 distinct strains” of how Mr. Carney evades reporter’s questions. More than 1,900 times since he held his first press briefing on Feb. 16, 2011, he gave some form of “I don’t have the answer — and there were at least 9,486 times where he’s dodged a question.

The breakdown, according to Yahoo!, includes:

I don’t have the answer (1905 times)
I would refer you to someone else (1383 times)
You already know the answer (1125 times)
I’m not going to tell you (939 times)
Not that I know of (927 times)
I don’t want to (588 times)
I’m not sure (549 times)
I won’t speculate (525 times)
No comment (429 times)
I’ll get back to you (387 times)
It’s a good question (381 times)
See yesterday’s non-response (231 times)
The president won’t tell me (117 times)

The job of a White House press secretary is certainly not to give open, unfettered access of the inner workings of the White House to the press. In large part, it’s messaging.

And, given the White House’s recent woes, sometimes it’s flattery.

“We have a team here that works really hard trying to anticipate the questions you’re going to ask. The problem is, there’s a lot of you and you’re good at your jobs and you’re smart.

And we almost invariably do not anticipate every question that you ask. So sometimes we don’t have the answers, and sometimes we need to go back and get them,” Mr. Carney said during a May 22 briefing.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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