Former press secretary Jay Carney shared stories from his career Monday night at University Auditorium, focusing on his time at the White House.
About 500 people came to hear him speak. A line formed at the University Auditorium box office and stretched down the sidewalk to Newell Drive.
“My favorite audience is a student audience,” Carney said.
He explained how he transitioned from being a journalist at TIME Magazine for 20 years to being “behind the lectern and on the podium.”
“Working in the West Wing is like trying to stand up straight in a tornado or a hurricane,” he said.
Carney said that his background as a reporter made him an outsider in the White House.
“The media is seen as a nuisance or outright enemy in Washington D.C.,” he said. “History wasn’t exactly on my side.”
He encouraged students not to become cynical or passive in regard to politics. He repeatedly pointed out the importance of paying attention the media and making sure your voice is heard.
Mahdi Kassam, a nuclear engineering freshman, came to hear Carney speak because he plans to add political science as a second major.
“He maintained his objectivity,” the 18-year-old said of Carney as press secretary. “You could definitely see his journalism training.”
Kayla Malone, a graduate student of public affairs and policy, said she tries to attend as many of the events presented by the Accent Speakers Bureau as she can.
“The question-and-answer session is usually the most interesting and controversial part,” she said.
Public relations, telecommunication, political science, Jewish studies and journalism students lined up at two microphones to ask Carney questions.
“Audiences try to ask questions tougher than the US Press Corps,” Carney said. “See if you can get under my skin.”
He spent about 50 of his 80 minutes answering questions about disruptive technologies, confidential information leaks, reporting abroad and the United States’ involvement in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
Carney was surprised by the standing ovation at the end of his presentation.
“Wow,” he said as he backed away from the microphone.