Josh Earnest is about to inherit the hardest media relations job on the planet.
Earnest, a long-time aide to President Obama, will be the next White House press secretary. He’ll succeed Jay Carney, whose resignation President Obama announced Friday, and be at the podium each day for the White House press briefing.
Here’s what you need to know about Earnest:
1. He’s Worked for Obama Since His First Campaign
Earnest is a trusted aide to Obama, and has worked for the President since Obama’s campaign in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, which Earnest joined in March 2007 as Iowa communications director.
In that role, he led Obama’s messaging in the Hawkeye State as the Illinois senator took Hillary Clinton by surprise and won the caucuses, launching his improbable run to the White House.
Earnest began working on mayoral campaigns in Houston shortly after graduating college, but soon became an aide for Michael Bloomberg during his fist campaign. Later, Earnest went on to serve as communications director for Marion Berry, the representative from Arkansas’s first district.
2. His Wife’s Grandfather Invented the Plastic Bottle
Earnest married Natalie Wyeth in August 2012. The wedding took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in D.C. According to their New York Times wedding announcement, Wyeth is an Oakton, Virginia native and a graduate of the University of Southern California.
Her grandfather, Nathanial Wyeth, was an engineer who invented the plastic bottle.
The pair met at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Wyeth was the press secretary for the convention and Earnest was the press man for the Obama campaign. She told the Times about meeting Earnest:
There was an immediate interest on both our parts. I thought he was attractive, interesting and had a good sense of humor — I wanted to know more about him and be introduced to him.
Wyeth told the New York Times, that from the couple’s second date, she knew that he “was the person I would spend the rest of my life with.”
According to the Washington Post, Earnest proposed to Wyeth in Hawaii during one of Obama’s annual vacations.
3. He’s Carney’s Top Deputy
Earnest had served as principal deputy press secretary to Carney, and had filled in numerous times at press briefings. He was also the chief of staff in the White House communications office and a special assistant to the President.
The video above features Earnest giving a press briefing last August. He opened the briefing by apologizing for keeping reporters waiting, adding that he made a “rookie mistake” and almost forgot his glass of water.
4. He Was a Baseball and Basketball Star Growing up in Missouri
Earnest was born in Kansas City and played baseball and basketball at the Barstow School, according ton his Wikipedia page. He graduated from Rice University in Houston in 1997 with majors in political science and policy studies.
According to a 2012 profile of Earnest by McClatchy Newspapers, Earnest’s father, Don, is the athletic director at the Pembroke Hill School near Kansas City, and Adam Moore, a childhood friend, told McClatchy Earnest was the “quintessential coach’s son” and a sharpshooter in basketball.
He has probably the best baseline jumper you’ve ever seen from the left-hand corner baseline. He could hit that three-pointer every time.
5. He’ll be Obama’s 3rd Press Secretary
Earnest will be the 30th press secretary in history and the third to serve under Obama, joining Robert Gibbs and Carney. He’s pictured above with Carney and Obama prior to a speech Obama delivered in February 2012 after the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Gibbs, who served as communications director for Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, served as press secretary from Obama’s Inauguration Day in 2009 until February of 2011, when he was succeeded by Carney.
Past presidents have had anywhere from one to five press secretaries.
Bill Clinton had five, tied with Harry S Truman for the most. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush had only one. (Of the presidents who only had one, only Eisenhower served two full terms.)
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