Movie Critique Ethics: Jay Carney’s Embarrassing Lie

There was a different arm up Ron Zeigler’s back, but the system, and the results, were the same.

Once again, allow me to express sympathy for Jay Carney who, like all official White House spokesmen (R.I.P., Ron Zeigler—who once offered me a job, by the way…but I digress) regularly lies his head off, sometimes for good reasons, usually just because his bosses want it that way. Still, the lies come out of his mouth, so he is accountable.

Yesterday, Carney came out with this jaw-dropper regarding the multiple protests being directed at U.S. embassies in the Middle East, as well as the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that left four dead, including our ambassador:

“This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to United States policy, obviously not to the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video, a film, that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting — that in no way justifies any violent reaction to it…But this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, but it is in response to video that is offensive to Muslims.”

I know that the fact that President Obama’s signature charm offensive with the Arab world has been an abject failure is a bitter pill, but it would be both admirable and encouraging to see the President accepting that he was naive and learning from the experience, rather than knowing that he is prompting his spokesman to insist, against all logic and evidence, that, no, really, they still love us—they just shot a rocket at our embassy because they didn’t like a movie trailer.

To begin with this, this further undermines Obama’s tolerance and respect approach: who in their right minds expresses their dislike of an internet movie trailer with murder and an act of war? Oh, that’s right: idiots. Primitives with the impulse control of toddlers. Is that what Obama/Carney is trying to say?

If the protests have nothing to do with the U.S., why are the protesters burning American flags, holding anti-American signs, and chanting Osama bin Laden’s name? Does Carney, or worse, President Obama, not know that perceived insults to Islam have traditionally been used by anti-American groups abroad as a pretense for arousing tactical anti-American sentiments?

Then there is this, assiduously ignored by the Obama-propping news media but reported elsewhere ( from the Christian Science Monitor):

“According to Jellyfish Operations – a private intelligence and analysis boutique that has spent much time dissecting the intervention in Libya and the conflict in Syria—the anti-Islamic movie is a red herring in all of this. Speaking to, Jellyfish President Michael Bagley said…“The key to all of this is al-Qaeda’s second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed by a US drone attack in Waziristan on 4 June…The real catalyst for the attack in Libya and the unrest that has spread to Yemen, was a lengthy video released by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, marking the anniversary of 9/11 and admitting to the death of al-Libi, who is Libyan. This was a very powerful call to avenge al-Libi’s death, and it came only 24 hours before the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.”

Does this sound more plausible as the cause for the attacks than a movie trailer alone?

Even without the al-Libi factor, Carney’s assertion is nonsense. It is not the film alone under attack, but the culture, values, and nation that allow the film to exist. Obviously the anger on the Arab street is directed at more than just the film. Carney is telling us that the Muslims are idiots, but he (and his ventriloquist) is treating us like idiots as well.

Following along with this bogus theory of “hate the movie, love the U.S.”, the Obama administration attempted to make everything sunshine and lollipops again by violating the First Amendment, and pressuring Google and YouTube to take the trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims off-line (the government “asked” them to review it). To its credit, Google and YouTube refused. Turning down a “request” by the government is like turning down a request from Don Corleone, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Obviously the movie isn’t the real problem, and neither is Jay Carney.


Graphic: Bytes Daily

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

7 thoughts on “Movie Critique Ethics: Jay Carney’s Embarrassing Lie

  1. I have NO sympathy whatsoever for Jay Carney. Hi is either a fool or a knave; if the former, he lacks the intelligence to realize the mistruths that regularly fall from his lips, and if the latter he is devoid of morals and ethics. He’s not even particularly good at carrying water for the White House in the presence of a press corps made up largely of sycophants. His one favorable attribute, as far as I can see, is that he at least manages to appear more earnest and less condescending and contemptuous than his predecessor, Robert Gibbs.

    This stuff lies within my area of professional expertise, and I know first hand that acting as a spokesperson when dealing with controversy is a hugely challenging task. Some do it with particular skill. Two recent WH press secretaries come to mind: Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow. Fleischer was brilliant – low key, smart, possessed of a bone-dry sense of humor and high levels of tolerance and, most importantly, he never let himself become the story (as Gibbs and Carney often do). Snow was successful in part because, as a former member of the White House Press Corps himself, he knew exactly how the game was played and what to expect. And in no small part, he was successful because many members of the corps had known him personally for years and just plain liked him as a human being.

    I give a hat tip to Dana Perino, who assumed responsibility for the office when Snow got sick. Although quite young, she handled the job with considerable grace and skill, despite the fact that she served in the final quarter of Bush’s presidency, when the long knives were out.

    Lest anyone think I’m pumping up Bush’s appointees and dissing Obama’s, Bush’s second press secretary – Scott McLellan – was an out and out disaster for the White House. Sort of like Gibbs, only nastier.

    • Thanks Arthur, I was also thinking of Ari Fleischer, in contrast with Carney. I know my memory is failing, when I am unable to recall who had Carney’s job in the Clinton White House.

      • Here’s a list:

        Clinton’s press secretaries included George Stephanopolous, then Dee Dee Myers (who did a pretty good job IMO, even though she was never afforded the full title and was frequently upstaged by George Stephanopolous); Mike McCurry, who held the job for four years (a feat in and of itself, especially considering that he was at the podium during the impeachment and its run-up – I’d give him high marks for skill under the circumstances) and finally Jake Siewart, who did Clinton’s final year.

    • I agree with your assessment on all concerned, Arthur. In my view Gibbs was even worse than Carney–at least Carney can deliver a coherent sentence with out dozens of ahs, and ums. Gibbs was embarrassing, utterly incompetent. Mike McCurry, given his impossible task, was outstanding, as was the late Tony Snow.

  2. I have word from reliable sources directly from Tunisia that the anti-American violence there has been led by a group of Salafists (not sure that is spelled right), who are considered outcasts and troublemakers by the majority of their own countrymen.

    While it is unethical to provoke, in a spirit of malice, persons in ways that can be reasonably calculated will incite them to violence, it is also unethical not to reject, resist – and, if necessary and feasible, overwhelm forcibly – those forces that are so beset with what I call pathological pettiness, that they are either blind to, or indifferent to, their own double standard regarding most fundamental liberties necessary to the survival, prosperity, and peaceful evolution of a pluralistic, enlightened, ethical, civil society.

  3. I heard Carney say that on TV and my head almost exploded. They can’t possibly believe that Americans are that stupid, can they? And does everything have to be about Obama and his election? I swear this man has never stopped campaigning, not since 2006.

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