“You’re good at your jobs and you’re smart,” he said, while explaining that the White House media operation is not always able to predict all the questions he’ll face each day.

“There’s been some legitimate criticisms about how we’re handling this,” Carney said of the White House’s changing timeline of how it found out about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups. “And I say legitimate, because I mean it.”

“It’s part of our democracy, and it’s a great part of our democracy,” he added, referring to media scrutiny of big news stories.

The newfound briefing room charm offensive came after Carney had taken a beating from his former colleagues in the White House press corps, who were angered that the press secretary had changed his story. After first saying that the administration found out about the IRS targeting on May 10, Carney acknowledged this week that President Obama’s senior aides had learned of the basic findings of an inspector general’s report on April 24.