Joshua Ryan Henry Earnest (born January 22, 1975)[3] is an American political aide who served as White House press secretary under President Barack Obama, from 2014 to 2017. He succeeded Jay Carney as Obama's press secretary, in 2014, and was succeeded by President Donald Trump's first Presidential press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Early years

Earnest was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Donald H. Earnest, an athletic director, and Jeanne M. Earnest, a psychologist. He attended The Barstow School, a private secondary school, on a scholarship. He played baseball and basketball.[2]

He graduated from Rice University, in 1997, with a degree in political science and policy studies.[2]


Immediately following college, he worked in the Houston mayoral election, 1997 for Lee P. Brown.[6] Earnest served as a congressional aide to U.S. congressman Robert Marion Berry, from 2002–03, after working on Michael Bloomberg's first campaign for mayor of New York City.[14]

After working on Capitol Hill, Earnest worked for the Democratic National Committee, from 2003–06, under both Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean.[15] Earnest was communications director on Jim Davis' campaign for governor of Florida, in 2006. He moved to Iowa, in December 2006, to serve as national communications director for then-Iowa governor Tom Vilsack's presidential campaign.[16]

He then joined then Barack Obama's presidential campaign in March 2007 as Obama's Iowa communications director. After Obama's Iowa caucus victory, Earnest worked as a top communications aide in several primary contests including South Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania. During the 2008 general election, Earnest served as the campaign's deputy communication director.[17] After Obama was elected president, Earnest moved to Washington, D.C. and served as the communications director for the presidential inaugural committee.[18]

Earnest started at the White House on Obama's first full day in office, January 21, 2009, as deputy press secretary under Robert Gibbs. Later, Earnest was promoted and served as principal deputy White House press secretary and chief of staff to Jay Carney, occasionally filling in during press briefings. Earnest was the voice of West Wing Week, an online video series produced by the White House that chronicled President Barack Obama's activities each week.[7]

On May 30, 2014, Obama announced that Josh Earnest would succeed Carney as the White House press secretary. In an annual survey conducted by the Politico Magazine in April 2015, he was voted the most helpful press official in the Obama administration and the best White House press secretary by nearly 70 journalists.[8]

He delivered his last press briefing of the Obama administration as press secretary, on January 17, 2017.[19]

Personal life

In August 2012, Earnest married Natalie Wyeth in an interfaith Christian–Jewish ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. His wife is a great-granddaughter of illustrator N. C. Wyeth, a granddaughter of engineer Nathaniel C. Wyeth, and a former veteran Treasury Department official. They have a son.