Cheer Up, Jay Carney: WashPost Prints Big, Fluffy Story on His Fandom for a Rock Band

May 24th, 2013 8:11 AM

The Washington Post carried a huge, almost life-size picture of Jay Carney’s head in the Style section on Friday. But it was designed as a pick-me-up for the embattled Obama spinner. It was a story about...Carney and his favorite rock band.

“Benghazi and the IRS have kept Carney scrambling, and he hasn’t had much time to listen to ‘English Little League,’ the latest album from the Ohio indie-rock band [Guided by Voices] he has affectionately name-dropped in more than one news briefing.” Critics want Carney canned, but the Post wants him to feel happy about the “beer-soaked brilliance” of his favorite rockers:

Carney, who has fronted “terrible, terrible” garage bands since his adolescence, says he always has been drawn to the idea of regular dudes making extraordinary rock-and-roll. But above all, Guided by Voices songs simply make him happy.

Perhaps the Post should have just bought him tickets to the 9:30 Club or something. This is embarrassing blast of “beat sweetening,” sucking up to the press secretary, which usually happens at the start of the administration, not at its scandalous low point. Music writer Chris Richards explained how Carney has brought the band up in the White House briefing room: 

The first time was a flub, with Carney invoking Guided by Voices guitarist Mitch Mitchell when he meant to name Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Happens all the time.

The second time was a shout out, with Carney describing Dayton, Ohio, as “the home of the Wright brothers, the Dayton Peace Accords and Guided by Voices, the greatest rock-and-roll band in the modern era.”

No one in the press corps challenged him on the last part — “It’s not a particularly music-oriented crowd out there,” Carney says — and the high praise quickly made its way back to the band.

“Obviously the word ‘wow’ came to mind,” Pollard writes in an e-mail. “Of course, anyone who likes my music means a lot to me but it’s even a little more special when it’s coming from a very seriously high echelon of thinkers like those cats in the White House.”

Even his White House spokesman gig may have come from connections to his buddies who would travel from town to town following Guided by Voices shows:

Over the years, some of Carney’s superfan travel buddies have doubled as his bandmates. They gather once every year or two under names such as the Shirlington Temples and Cash Bar Wedding to record songs that Carney promises nobody will ever hear. The lineup includes Eli Attie, a television writer and former special assistant to Bill Clinton; David Segal, a New York Times reporter and former Washington Post pop music critic; Post contributor Dave McKenna; and deputy national security adviser Antony Blinken, who helped Carney land a spot in then-Sen. Joseph Biden’s media office in 2008.

It's wonderful that Carney is a well-rounded individual with non-political interests. But the Post's timing on this demonstrates nothing more than a hang-in-there-pal sympathy card that was published in a half-million papers for maximum positive punch.