Jay Carney completed a 20-year journey from budding reporter to the most visible spokesman in the country in January 2011, when President Barack Obama named the former Time standout his second press secretary. He followed Robert Gibbs into the role.
Carney had a prime seat for the presidency of Obama predecessor George W. Bush as Time's Washington bureau chief from 2005 to 2008, before starting work for Vice President Joe Biden in 2009. Now on the other side of the briefing room, Carney's job-jousting with reporters in daily press briefings and serving as the first line of defense against media criticism defines the PR profession.
That isn't to say Carney's job is an easy one. He's defended the Obama administration's unpopular Affordable Care Act and he famously sparred with the media in the lead-up to the president's historic gay marriage announcement. While less combative than some of his predecessors, Carney gives as well as he gets on most days. He's made up for his lack of political campaign experience by displaying his intellect and attention to detail behind the podium in the White House briefing room. His legacy will largely be defined by Obama's success or failure against Mitt Romney this November.