Snow Faces First Test as Press Secretary: Bloggers

While President Bush touted his new press secretary's band and work with Kenyan children, bloggers are more interested in other aspects of his resume.

At 9:10 this morning, President Bush officially named radio and television commentator Tony Snow the new White House Press Secretary, noting, among other things, that Snow has “taught children in Kenya” and that he “belongs to a rock band called Beats Working.” It is other aspects of Snow’s resume, however, on which many bloggers are focused.

Aspects, for example, like Snow’s employment at Fox News. Anglofille (The Diary of an American “Fille” in London) offers her expert expat opinion that “at long last, the blurry line between Fox News and the Bush administration has been completely erased” and wonders, “What’s next, Bill O’Reilly replacing Rumsfeld? He couldn’t possibly do a worse job.”

Elsewhere, one would be forgiven for thinking, after reading Hugh Hewitt’s post on Snow’s appointment, that it was Hewitt himself who had received the job offer. Indeed Hewitt seems to take Snow’s selection as a sort of personal affirmation, using it to praise the hard work of radio hosts like himself: “One of the joys of doing what we do is that it allows us [to] read widely and constantly, to interview experts and opposites, and, crucially, to practice the hardest words for anyone in Washington to say: ‘I don’t know.’” (Hewitt sometimes says that he “doesn’t know” something? Hey, we didn’t know.) Hewitt continues with his rumination on what he and Snow do: “We confront churlish folks and gentle but ill-informed folks, and passion and bigotry and patriotism and honor and every other sort of American virtue and emotion every day. There isn’t much the WH press can throw at Snow that he hasn’t already fielded a few hundred times.”

Over at Captain’s Quarters, Ed, too, sees Snow’s radio background as a key to his future success in the briefing room. “[T]he tenor of press briefings will change significantly from the sieges we have seen with Scott McClellan,” asserts Ed, since “[f]rom his years of radio duty, Tony knows how to talk extemporaneously and engage in debate on a moment’s notice” and “[i]t would be hard to imagine Tony being at a loss for words or failing to present the best case for any position in which he believes.”

Also not at a loss for words is Brian Maloney (aka The Radio Equalizer), who sees some “low-blow oppo tactics” being used against Snow — by “the Fox News Channel-hating ‘mainstream’ press” and “lefty critics.” Maloney’s evidence? A handful of critical blog posts about the appointment, including something he dug up in the comments section of Daily Kos in which the commenter calls Snow’s appointment a “huge gaffe,” noting that “attention will be paid to his vile lies of the last five years.” As for the Fox-hating mainstream press? Well, Maloney catches the New York Times reporting that “Dems [are] using Snow’s recent criticism of Bush against him” and he fingers some “nice BBC spin” in which “Snow is reduced to merely a ‘radio presenter.’” (Note to Maloney: this isn’t so much a “low-blow oppo tactic” as it is evidence that the Brits just talk funny. Across the pond diapers are nappies, trucks are lorries, and radio hosts are “radio presenters.”)

It’s not just the “Dems” talking about Snow’s recent criticisms of Bush — it’s also Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan points to several Snow-on-Bush comments (helpfully compiled by “progressive” blog, ThinkProgress) with which he agrees and adds: “But I’m not going to stand in front of the press and defend this record now, am I? The first question Snow may get if he takes the job is about his own splendid eviscerations of this president’s rank betrayal of fiscal conservatism and limited government in the past. Good luck, Tony. You’ll need it.”

Finally, playing the role of killjoy (or voice of reason, take your pick), Sploid is here to remind left-leaning optimists that while “Snow has been rather critical of Bush and his policies of late, making many hopeful that his candor will continue to trickle through his White House press briefings … the man’s being hired by the president to tell the press what the president wants them to hear. The idea/hope that he’ll stray is absurd.” The silver lining, says Sploid, is that “it may just be refreshing for folks to be lied to in complete and clear sentences.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.