"My wife says she likes it," Carney said. (Carney is married to ABC News' Claire Shipman.)
He said his beard, grown during the two-week holiday break, was "actually an homage to Mark Knoller," a CBS News White House correspondent who regularly has facial hair, ABC News said.
By the end of Monday's briefing, one reporter said Carney's facial hair already was trending on social media, even having a Twitter handle.
The Twitter handle honoring Carney's scruffy face, @presssecbeard, collected more than 180 followers by Tuesday morning.