Snow Jobbed

by Laura Snedeker

This past week marked the exit of yet another Bush administration official as Press Secretary Tony Snow gave his last briefing.

The resignation, which took effect Sept. 14, is business as usual for the Bush White House. Snow chose not to play up his illness (cancer), instead citing the pay cut he took in the move from Fox News anchor and political analyst to presidential apologist.

But Snow lost more than money when he accepted President George Bush’s appointment. He previously hosted Fox News Sunday and Weekend Live on the Fox News Channel before starting his own show on Fox News Radio.

His loss of control over the conversation marred the natural progression from right-wing talk show host to apologist for the Bush administration. As weekend host and occasional fill-in for Bill O’Reilly (he of falafel fame from the sexual harassment suit in 2004) he could draw on any number of loyal political reporters and analysts; as host of the Tony Snow Show on Fox News Radio he controlled his guests and callers.

Unfortunately for Snow, he could only call on Fox’s Carl Cameron so many times before reluctantly answering Helen Thomas or NBC’s David Gregory. As the administration sunk deeper into a mess of its own making it became harder to brush off pointed questions about the Iraq War or the misdeeds of cabinet members without looking like a snotty frat boy.

The administration has witnessed a stampede for the exit in the last few years, but no highly visible post has been repeatedly deserted so often as that of the White House Press Secretary. Despite the excesses of the Justice Department there have been only two Attorneys General; despite the failure of the war in Iraq only the first and widely disliked Secretary of Defense resigned; despite America’s sinking world reputation only the more moderate Secretary of State called it quits.

But Tony Snow is the third press secretary to throw in the towel: Ari Fleischer left in May 2003, the same month President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Even the usually docile media jumped all over him like a dog on a smelly shoe, angry at having been duped into going along with a photo-op for Dear Leader. His successor, bumbling Scott McClellan, who refused to comment on anything “from this podium” resigned in April 2006 before the midterm elections.

Bush isn’t the only president to have problems retaining his spinmeisters. Four different people came and went during Bill Clinton’s two terms in office, and Ronald Reagan had three different press secretaries. The longer the president’s time in office, the more difficult it becomes to explain executive actions. The pressure to adequately excuse the contradictory, the criminal, and the foolish is not worth the pay.

Better to praise the president and vilify the so-called liberal media* from under the banner of Fox News than to face the television cameras from behind the podium.

* Liberal (adj.) media (pl. n.) – A mythical creature that exists in the collective mind of the Fox News Channel. Check reference sources under secular progressive media for more.

(Editorial graphic courtesy of DarkBlack and used with permission. For more material like this, please see DarkBlack's blog. To see an excerpt from Snow's last press conference where he discusses the rationale for ending the administration's troop escalation in Iraq, please check below.)

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