Why Did Jay Carney Resign? The Press Secretary Had A Notoriously High-Turnover Job

Big news Friday afternoon: White House press secretary Jay Carney has resigned, as President Obama abruptly announced during a routine press conference. Former journalist Carney, 49, had served as the administration's liaison to the White House press pool since January 2011, succeeded by Robert Gibbs. Now, Carney is being replaced by his former principal deputy, Josh Earnest, and where he'll land next is uncertain. The resignation was unexpected, but given how high-turnover a position the White House press secretary can be, it's not too surprising to see a new face behind the podium.

Even having served a mere three years, Carney was front and center throughout some tumultuous and challenging times, weathering one probing question after another on issues very sensitive for the administration — the Syrian civil war, the Arab Spring, the Benghazi consulate attack, the rhetoric of the 2012 presidential race.

He was also the focus of an intense amount of ire from conservative administration critics — and liberal ones, too. It's a hard job to please people while doing Carney's job, because the nature of the role is to appear to give information while actually saying as little as possible. It tends to foster an essentially combative relationship with the press, which was often evident throughout Carney's tenure. In late 2013, he got into a simmering back-and-forth with ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

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It's not hard to imagine what a stressful job Carney's might have been. But in spite of that, Obama's press secretaries have done a decent job hanging in there, at least as compared to other recent administrations — the Bush administration had four (one of whom, the late Tony Snow, was forced to resign due to his cancer treatment), while the Clinton administration had five.

Earnest will be the third press secretary for the Obama administration, following Gibbs and Carney. Considering what a high-turnover position it can be, there's no guarantee he'll finish out President Obama's second term. But considering it's already 2014, and midterm elections are nearly upon us, it's a safe bet Obama would prefer Earnest, whom he's called "a straight-shooter," to be his last.

As for Carney, things will immediately be a whole lot less stressful. There's no confirmed reports as to what he'll do next, but there are a couple possibilities: The former TIME journo is well cut out for a job in media, and cable news is never shy about signing up ex-officials — Gibbs landed on MSNBC not long after resigning, and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino is host on Fox News' The Five.

Of course, he could also just devote himself full-time to the passion gig he tried out just a few days ago — Guided By Voices hype man. Who are, according to Carney, "the greatest rock band in the world." Apparently.