POLITICS/MEDIA: White House Press Secretary, "Washington's ultimate burnout job": "The job of presidential press secretary takes a toll" ....
* Washington Post: "The job of presidential press secretary takes a toll" - From the WP:
It may be Washington’s ultimate burnout job. Presidential press secretaries get to consult regularly with the most powerful man on the planet, travel to exotic locales on Air Force One, and become the most visible representative of the White House after the president himself. But the job takes a toll. Jay Carney, President Obama’s press secretary, seemed to acknowledge as much Friday when he announced that he would be stepping down after 40 months.
As press secretaries go, the 49-year-old Carney was practically an iron man. President George W. Bush had four press secretaries during his two terms; President Clinton had five. Obama is on his third, after Carney’s deputy, Josh Earnest, 39, was named his successor. The last person to last two full terms as press secretary was President Eisenhower’s spokesman, James Hagerty.
“The grueling part isn’t just the hours, which are bad, it’s that your mind never gets a rest,” says Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s first press secretary. “You’re always war gaming. It’s constant intellectual chess. You’re thinking of the next question that the press is going to ask, and that leads to the next question and the next question et cetera, et cetera.”
Fleischer, who served 31 months during an intense period spanning the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the start of the Iraq war, grew weary of being in the middle of the tug of war between the news media and the administration. The latter, he says, is cautious about saying too much; the former are “insatiable,” demanding more and more disclosure. “Even if you think you’re succeeding, someone will tell you it’s not enough,” he says. “It’s never enough.”
Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton’s spokesman from 1998 to 2000, says press secretaries aren’t really off even when they’re off. “You don’t have the luxury of getting behind because you’ll never catch up,” says Lockhart, who also runs a communications firm. “It’s hard to go off the grid. You don’t get pure time off.” And this was before smartphones turned everyone into a 24/7 info zombie.
Carney, who hasn’t announced his plans, received praise from his boss (“I’m going to continue to rely on him as a friend and adviser,” Obama said), but more mixed assessments from reporters..........................