Think of it as a sort of reverse birthday gift.
After a tense few days in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room as the Internal Revenue Service scandal, Benghazi emails and the Justice Department's secret seizure of journalists' phone records put White House press secretary Jay Carney on defense, he decided to strike a much lighter note and offer effusive praise for the 50 or so journalists gathered for the daily briefing on Wednesday (which happened to be Carney's birthday).
Carney defended his handling of the recent scandals, in part by suggesting that the journalists covering the White House are just too good at their jobs.
We have a team here that works really hard trying to anticipate the questions you're going to ask. The problem is, there's a lot of you and you're good at your jobs and you're smart. And we almost invariably do not anticipate every question that you ask. So sometimes we don’t have the answers, and sometimes we need to go back and get them.
The day before, he called a reporter "petulant" for asking questions about who knew what and when in regard to the IRS' improper targeting of conservatives.
Carney revealed on Monday that contrary to earlier statements, some members of the White House staff did previously know about an inspector general's report on the IRS scandal. That the story out of the White House has been evolving has been the subject of criticism.
Carney conceded on Wednesday that "there have been some legitimate criticisms about how we're handling this. And I say ‘legitimate’ because I mean it."