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Kansas City’s Earnest ends first press briefing as spokesman on rough note

New White House press secretary Josh Earnest, right, looks back toward members of the media as he exits with staff at the conclusion of his first briefing as press secretary on Monday.
New White House press secretary Josh Earnest, right, looks back toward members of the media as he exits with staff at the conclusion of his first briefing as press secretary on Monday. AP

If there’s a place to test the resiliancy of so-called Midwestern nice, White House briefings might be the spot.

Kansas City product Josh Earnest, who has officially replaced White House spokesman Jay Carney as the president’s mouthpiece, had a testy close to his first briefing of the press corps since his promotion kicked in.

Earlier in Monday’s briefing, he’d been asked about which world leaders President Barack Obama had spoken with recently about the growing crisis in Iraq.

Then at the close of the session, Earnest confirmed for a reporter that Obama had, indeed, talked with Russian President Vladimir about Ukraine. Some of the reporters took that distinction — that the two world leaders talked about Ukraine, not Iraq — as parsing.

“You don’t have to get exercised about this,” Earnest told Alexis Simendinger of Real Clear Politics.

Let’s pick up the official White House transcript from that point:

Q That’s a reasonable question.

Q We asked you a question. You should answer the question.

MR. EARNEST: I did.

Q No, you didn’t. You said you had no calls to read out.

MR. EARNEST: Alexis, I was asked if the President had any conversations with world leaders about the situation of Iraq.

Q Oh, so maybe we should go around the map every day with you.

MR. EARNEST: Thanks, everybody.

Q Hey, Josh, did Carney leave you a note in the flak jacket?

MR. EARNEST: We’ll talk about it tomorrow.

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