The top 9,486 ways Jay Carney won’t answer your questions (interactive)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jay Carney doesn’t have an answer for that. He hasn’t discussed that subject with the president. He will refer you to the Department of [insert agency here]. He refuses to speculate on that. He’ll have to get back to you.

But he appreciates the question.

A Yahoo News analysis of the 444 briefings through June 18 that Carney has held since becoming White House press secretary has identified 13 distinct strains in the way he dodges reporters' question. Since Carney held his first daily briefing with reporters in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room on Feb. 16, 2011, for example, he’s used some variation of "I don’t have the answer" more than 1,900 times. In 1,383 cases he referred a question to someone else. But will he at least speculate on hypotheticals? No. In fact, he has refused to do so 525 times.

In the following interactive, you can browse all 9,486 of Carney’s most-used responses and verbal crutches.

The main function of a White House press secretary is to shape messaging for the administration, which often requires stymieing questions as a form of damage control.

Reporters got several doses of that at Friday's briefing, including a rather repetitive back-and-forth over what kind of aid (arms? weapons? U.S. troops?) America is sending to Syrian rebels. "We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you the elements of that assistance. And as the president said, I cannot and will not get into some specifics about the assistance that we provide," Carney said.

When pressed further? "We can't comment on specifics around our program."

And further? "I'm simply saying that given the nature of the assistance that we provide, the way in which we implement our assistance ... I can't give you an itemized list or be specific about every single aspect," he said. "I think I've given the answer that I can give."

Reporters also heard many "as you know's," some "I'm not going to's" and several referrals.

The referral to another agency or person is one of Carney's favorite evasive maneuvers. During the 43-minute briefing on Jan. 25 alone, for example, Carney referred reporters to the Justice Department four times, the National Labor Relations Board twice, the State Department twice, once to the historic precedent of recess appointments, once to a New York Times article, once to a speech that President Barack Obama delivered earlier in the week, and once to the Defense Department.

As should be abundantly clear, Carney doesn't have all the answers. As he recently reminded the gathered reporters at his briefing, he and his team are mere mortals battling an army of professionals bent on stumping him.

"We have a team here that works really hard trying to anticipate the questions you're going to ask. The problem is, there's a lot of you and you're good at your jobs and you're smart. And we almost invariably do not anticipate every question that you ask. So sometimes we don’t have the answers, and sometimes we need to go back and get them," Carney said during the May 22 briefing.

That was a rare moment of effusive praise for the press. It followed what had been a rough series of briefings for Carney amid controversy over the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, the Internal Revenue Service scandal and the Justice Department's secret seizure of journalists' phone records.

Those stories put Carney in a tougher-than-usual spot to speak for Obama and the White House, share information and shape the president's message, all without creating new controversy as he stood behind the podium.

More often than not, the imperative to do no harm prompts a total nonanswer from Carney. This results in the "I have no personnel announcements" for you today, referrals to other individuals and other gems that the press readily anticipates and often mocks.

Carney's recent predilection for saying "I appreciate the question," upon hearing a question he very likely did not appreciate, even prompted Politico to release a video montage May 14 of all those responses.

With good humor, Carney acknowledged it the next day.

"You know it’s a personal question, but a great question," Carney told CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, who asked whether Carney personally dreaded the briefings amid the controversies. "Do you appreciate it?" Knoller added, prompting laughter in the room.

"You beat me to my punch line," Carney said.

See more Yahoo News interactives at the new Yahoo Signal Tumblr.

Loading...
  • American missionaries infected with Ebola to be brought home
    American missionaries infected with Ebola to be brought home

    An Atlanta hospital is preparing to treat one of the two U.S. aid workers who contracted the highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. It will be the first time that a patient diagnosed with Ebola will be known to be in the United States.

  • France mulls ban on radical Jewish group
    France mulls ban on radical Jewish group

    France is considering disbanding a radical Jewish group whose members clashed with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies over Israel's offensive in Gaza, a source close to the case told AFP on Thursday. News of the mooted ban on the Jewish Defence League (LDJ) came just ahead of an evening pro-Israel demonstration outside the Jewish state's embassy, located near the French prime minister's office. Police said around 4,500 people joined the rally called by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF). They were held in response to weeks of pro-Palestinian protests that have been marred by clashes, arrests and allegations of anti-Semitism in which synagogues were targeted and Israeli flags burnt.

  • Pilot sentenced for groping teenage girl on flight
    Pilot sentenced for groping teenage girl on flight

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former Utah airline pilot was sentenced Wednesday to more than two years in prison for groping a 14-year-old girl in the seat next to him during an off-duty flight.

  • Ebola-infected doctor's extraordinary sacrifice
    Ebola-infected doctor's extraordinary sacrifice

    Even from his own sickbed, Dr. Kent Brantly continues to put the well-being of others before his own.

  • Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 70 dead in Rafah shelling
    Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 70 dead in Rafah shelling

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel declared a Gaza ceasefire over on Friday, saying Hamas militants breached the truce soon after it took effect and apparently captured an Israeli officer while killing two other soldiers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his security cabinet into special session and publicly warned Hamas and other militant groups they would "bear the consequences of their actions". The 72-hour break announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, driven by mounting international alarm over a rising Palestinian civilian death toll. U.S. President Barack Obama called for the Israeli soldier's unconditional release and said that after the day's events it would be tough to reinstate a truce.

  • Airbus adamant no room for more talks in cancelled Japan jet deal
    Airbus adamant no room for more talks in cancelled Japan jet deal

    Airbus on Thursday said its decision to cancel a $2.2 billion jet order from Skymark Airlines was final, rejecting the Japanese carrier's suggestion that talks were still ongoing. The European aircraft maker said this week it had informed Skymark that its purchase of six A380 superjumbos "has been terminated", just hours after the airline said it was still locked in tough negotiations. Skymark's Tokyo-listed shares plunged in the wake of Airbus announcement, wiping out a quarter of its market value -- amounting to about $64 million -- in just two sessions. A spokesman for the European firm's Tokyo unit told AFP Thursday: "We will not talk about the issue of the shipment anymore, as we have cancelled the order." He added that Airbus would now be working on a compensation package over the failed deal, which was signed three years ago.

  • Homeowner who fought off Trump is moving on
    Homeowner who fought off Trump is moving on

    She once called Donald Trump "a maggot, a cockroach and a crumb." This week, he remembered her as "an impossible person."

  • John Kerry's passage to India. Why is he going now?
    John Kerry's passage to India. Why is he going now?

    After a bruising week of shuttle diplomacy that failed to broker a cease-fire to the Gaza conflict, Mr. Kerry landed yesterday in India for two days of talks with the new Narendra Modi government. It’s the first visit of a high ranking US official to India since Prime Minister Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to a landslide victory in May, and is designed to pave the way for the Indian leader's visit to the United States in September.  He will need to assuage hurt feelings over revelations that the NSA spied on the BJP, and also press India over its holdup of new global trade regulations. “The catechism of an 'indispensable partnership' with India that US Secretary of State John Kerry repeated during [a speech before he arrived in New Delhi] cannot cover up the loss of faith that has crept into the relationship between the two countries,” wrote Siddharth Varadarajan, a senior fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs in New Delhi in a column in India’s NDTV.

Loading...

Follow Yahoo! News