The PJ Tatler

Where in the World is the Ebola Czar? White House 'Won't Rule Out' Letting Klain Talk

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that Ebola czar Ron Klain might soon show his face and maybe even speak with the press corps.

Earnest was asked if the administration has kept Klain so low-profile that no quite understands what his role is supposed to be.

“I will not try to speculate on which aspects of the things that I try to describe here are clearly understood by you or are not understood by you,” the press secretary replied. “I — and on those occasions in which the policy that I’m trying to explain is not well understood, I would be happy to take more — a healthy shared responsibility for that.”

“What I will point out is that even before Ron started in this job, we were clear — at least I was clear — about describing his role as one that was principally behind-the-scenes, one that would be focused on coordinating the activities of the wide variety of federal government agencies that are involved in this response. And that the need for him to play that coordinating role would limit his ability to make a large number of public appearances,” Earnest said.

“That all said, I certainly wouldn’t rule out future opportunities for Mr. Klain to speak with all of you or with other journalists. Right now, the most important thing for him to be focused on is ensuring that this whole-of-government approach that the president has pursued to respond to this Ebola situation is one that meets the very high standard that the president has set for his team and for the American people.”

Earnest was asked Monday what exactly fell under Klain’s area of responsibility.

“We’ve tried a couple of times I think to describe what Mr. Klain’s role is here at the White House and in the federal government, and he is responsible for coordinating the whole-of-government approach that the president has suggested is necessary,” he replied.

Since Klain started last week, “We have seen a significant number of announcements related to the whole-of-government approach that the president has ordered to dealing with the Ebola situation,” Earnest added.

“…Obviously, some of that Mr. Klain was very closely involved with.  Some of it he wasn’t, because it reflected work that had been done before he arrived.  But I do think that what you see here is intensive coordination among a range of federal agencies to respond to this very difficult challenge.”

Klain didn’t go up to New York after a doctor tested positive for the disease, and Earnest didn’t “anticipate that he has the plans to do that any time soon.”

“I anticipate we’ll limit the amount of time that he can dedicate to making the case publicly about our response.  But if that need arises, I’m confident that he will do that if necessary.”