White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest will be the new White House press secretary, President Obama said today after announcing Jay Carney is leaving his post next month.
In making the announcement, Obama joked that Earnest’s “name describes his demeanor,” describing him as a “coach’s son from Kansas City who still roots for the Royals, I guess.” His dad, Don Earnest, is athletic director at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City.
“Josh is an earnest guy, and you can’t find just a nicer individual, even outside of Washington,” Obama said, adding the two have an “incredible history” that goes “all the way back to the Iowa caucuses,” which Obama won in 2008, catapulting his historic and victorious presidential campaign.
Earnest, 39, worked as then-Senator Obama’s communications director in Iowa beginning in March of 2007. The president said today in that role he would often spend “an extra hour or two helping young staffers make phone calls or knock on doors.”
“There was no task that was too small, no detail too unimportant for Josh to attend to,” Obama said. “At the White House, he’s been a mentor to many of the young people here, who I know are thrilled for him today. He is of sound judgment and great temperament. He is honest and full of integrity.”
The president did note that the reporters in the room are likely to “get frustrated with him,” but it may be “hard because he’s a straight shooter” and a “great guy.”
He joked that the press should “be nice to Josh during his initiation.” He will travel with the president to Europe next week.
Earnest has been Carney’s top deputy and often fills in for the press secretary’s daily briefings at both the White House and aboard Air Force One when the president is traveling. He also narrates “West Wing Week,” the White House’s online video blog, which highlights presidential events and activities.
In a 2012 profile of Earnest in McClatchy newspapers, Carney called Earnest “indispensable. I depend on his judgment all the time.”
In that same profile, which stressed his love of basketball, Earnest called working at the White House “sometimes thrilling, sometimes frustrating, but most frequently, it’s humbling.”
Earnest worked previously on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first campaign, as well as working on both Capitol Hill and for the Democratic National Committee. He is from Kansas City, Missouri and attended Rice University, where he majored in political science and policy studies.