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Ex-Times journalist is Obama press chief

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jay Carney, who built a career covering politics and presidents before joining the White House himself, on Thursday became President Barack Obama's choice as his next press secretary and chief defender.

Obama chose Carney over several candidates whom he gave serious consideration, including North Buffalo's Bill Burton, a 1995 City Honors graduate who works in the White House as a deputy press secretary.

The naming of a new press secretary means Americans will be seeing a new face all over TV coverage and in newspapers on behalf of Obama: Carney, 45, who looks the part but has never done a stint behind any briefing room podium.

He spent two decades as a journalist for Time magazine, including as a White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief, before changing career paths to become Vice President Joe Biden's communications director in 2008.

Sometime in the next few weeks, Carney will replace Robert Gibbs, who served as Obama's spokesman, friend and trusted counselor in the White House.

Gibbs is quitting for a lighter schedule and a more lucrative career in the private sector after a grueling, years-long run at Obama's side, but he will remain an adviser and will serve on the president's re-election campaign.

Carney has only gotten to know Obama over the last two years and is not expected to have the influence that Gibbs did.

But White House aides assured that Carney would have all the access he needed to speak with credibility on Obama's behalf, and his fast rise to the top of Obama's press operation reflects how well he is regarded by the president.

For Obama, what seemed to push Carney to the top was his dual history of being a reporter and a spokesman; the way he handled his work for Biden; and his experience. He is roughly a decade older than some other candidates.

Named to the job but not quite in the role yet, Carney offered reporters a response that won't hold for long: No comment.

That's been his style over the last two years - keeping his name out of the news in deference to his boss, Biden - but that will change as he and Gibbs work out their transition.

Obama's new chief of staff, Bill Daley, announced Carney's appointment and a package of other personnel changes in an e-mail to staff on Thursday, saying they would provide more clarity and coordination.

Among the other White House moves announced Thursday: Alyssa Mastromonaco, Obama's director of scheduling and advance work, was promoted to White House deputy chief of staff for operations; White House health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle becomes deputy chief of staff for policy; and Obama aide Rob Nabors will be the new White House legislative director. The current legislative chief, Phil Schiliro, will stay for a while to help Daley manage all the transitions.

Carney worked for Time magazine for 20 years, most recently serving as Washington bureau chief from 2005-2008. He covered the White Houses of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and was on Air Force One on the day of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A Yale graduate, he speaks Russian and was based in Moscow for Time during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in northern Virginia, Carney is married to ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman.

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