February 8th, 2011
04:56 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House aides have been quietly preparing incoming press secretary Jay Carney for his briefing debut next week.
CNN has learned that the process, led by deputy spokesman Bill Burton and Josh Earnest, who had both been in the running for the press secretary job, has been exhaustive.
All last week Carney was prepped by current staffers “simulating the daily briefings,” said Earnest.
Earnest painted a picture of the sessions:
Carney would stand behind a podium in a room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The team of staffers played the role of reporters, and would ask him questions on “current topics,” closely following the format of Robert Gibbs daily briefing.
In addition to those exercises Carney has also sat in on briefing “prep sessions” Gibbs has conducted with his staff.
Carney, who is Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director, covered the White House for Time magazine and was also its Washington Bureau Chief.
In watching Carney’s simulated briefings,” Earnest said it was clear he had “benefitted tremendously from his experience covering the White House.”
His “familiarity with the process” and understanding of the “back and forth” that takes place during the briefings, “shows in his performance,’ Earnest said.
Carney was named White House Spokesman after Gibbs announced last month he was leaving, but that he would work to promote the president’s agenda from the outside. His last day on the job is Friday.
“Jay and I have talked a lot about the importance of this job,” Gibbs told reporters. However he refused to share the advice he gave his successor. “I’m going to let that counsel remain private.”
Gibbs, who for the first time admitted he took his briefing transcripts home every night and read them, called his soon to be ex-job “one of the most challenging…in all of this government.”
Because the president’s budget will be unveiled on Monday, it’s unclear if Carney will make his debut then or wait until Tuesday.
Carney will soon be catching real hardball questions on everything from Egypt to the economy, and will be judged by an even tougher audience than White House staffers -the White House press corps.
When asked if Carney was ready to take on that job, Earnest demurred. “That’s for you guys to decide.”