Back in July of 2001, Hotline's Media Monitor featured then Time Magazine White House correspondent Jay Carney. Now that he's White House Press Secretary and we thought we'd provide a look back at his interview.
Where's your hometown? What was it like growing up there?
I'm a rare Washington, D.C. native. Born at Georgetown Hospital. Grew up in the Virginia 'burbs, though. Was an odd place in some ways, very transitory. The D.C. suburbs lack a sense of identity, though politics was a bigger deal here than in most hometowns of course. In 1974, I think it was, I remember finding a discarded strand of audio tape along the curb of my street -- probably from an 8-track -- and being convinced I had stumbled across the missing minutes of the Watergate tapes. I was 9.
What was the last book you read?
Not counting political and history books, "Death in Summer" by William Trevor. Trevor is brilliant, though very spare and bleak. John McCain recommended him to me on his trip to Vietnam a year ago. "Blindness" by Jose Saramago before that. Am now re-reading "Love in the Time of Cholera," which I came across recently. Extremely romantic, but not soft. Garcia Marquez' prose is muscular, potent stuff.
Who's your favorite musician/band?
Without question, the greatest rock and roll band in the history of the world is Guided By Voices, Dayton, Ohio's gift to American culture. The older stuff -- from the mid-90s -- is best. If you love melodic, lo-fi pop with a touch of lyrical genius, go buy "Bee Thousand," "Propeller" or "Alien Lanes."
What's your favorite color?
I'm with Tapper. Who has a favorite color at 36?
What's your favorite place to shop?
Starbucks. And Olsson's.
What's your favorite restaurant in Washington?
Zuki Moon, maybe. Or Ten Penh. Most frequented: Burrito Brothers. What's your favorite food? Used to think I could live on humus and pita. Not anymore. Now I think it's Vietnamese clay pot caramel pork.
How did you end up in journalism?
Thought I was a "writer" in high school. Got involved in college journalism, for a magazine instead of the school paper. Then fell into studying Russian and the Soviet Union in college and decided I wanted to go to Moscow as a reporter. Graduated in 1987 -- perfect timing.
Out of everything you've covered, what's been your favorite story?
The collapse of the Soviet Union. My entire three years in Moscow, from 1990-1993, bifurcated by the failed coup of August 1991. Every day was a journalist's dream.
What's the best thing about your job?/What's the worst thing about your job?
Best: getting paid to talk to people, read a lot and then write about it all. Worst: realization that your story is next week's fish wrap. (Does anyone wrap fish in newsprint anymore?)
Does Bush have a nickname for you?
Jay-boy during the campaign. More recently Carni (pronounced Car-neye).
What did you do to pass the time during Campaign 2000?
Hang out, eat and drink with the Bush Press Bubble -- a great group of folks.
What's your most embarrassing on-the-job moment? (Or as embarrassing as you'd like to reveal?)
So many to choose from. I actually was the anchor for a pilot episode of a Hotline television show about six or seven years ago. I was appalling at it. Another time, in 1990 or '91, I was having an ear piece put in when I was in Moscow and overheard Robin MacNeil or Jim Lehrer say, incredulously, "How old is this guy, 15?"
Do you have a prediction for the WH 2004 matchup?
McCain-Gore. (Despite solid approval ratings, Bush decides not to run for re-election, takes MLB commissioner job instead).
And finally, we're ending this feature with a question posed by the last interviewee. This one's from Newsweek's Howard Fineman. Is there a political TV show you would refuse to do? If so, which one?
Given some of the shows I have done already, I don't think anyone would believe me if I drew the line now.
Now you can pose your own question to the next person we interview: We'd like to give you the chance to pose a question -- any question -- to the next interviewee. Be as nice, or as mean, as you wish.
The dirty little secret about appearing on political talk shows is ....?