Commentary: Obama's 'goalkeeper'

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

The world does not hang on a newly elected president's choice of a press secretary the way it hangs on, say, his choice of a secretary of state (will she or won't she? – Hillary Clinton, that is). But deciding who will be the president's main conduit of information to the news media, and through them to the American people and the world beyond, is no small matter. Much responsibility lies with the person who regularly holds forth at that White House lectern.

So Robert Gibbs can rightfully feel both proud and honored to have been tapped as press secretary by Barack Obama. And Gibbs' selection also reflects well on his alma mater, N.C. State University, where he majored in political science and was a member of the soccer team. His position, in perhaps a bit of symbolic foreshadowing – goalkeeper.

It is not a surprise pick – Gibbs, 37, has been an Obama spokesman since Obama's successful run for the U.S. Senate from Illinois four years ago. During the presidential campaign, he was communications director, and clearly he has a close relationship with the boss.

That's important. An effective press secretary must be trusted by the person in the Oval Office, trusted enough to be included in the loop as policies are being framed, decisions made, sudden crises addressed. The public cannot reasonably expect every detail of a White House's inner workings to be laid bare. However, the public does have a right to expect the president's spokesperson to be fully informed, and to be accurate and honest when information is disclosed.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.