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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tony Snow Needs To Focus

Tony Snow The first news reports about the performance of the President's new Press Secretary, , indicate that he is off to a slow start. The New York Times carries a Reuters article:

Tony Snow Blinks After First Look at Press Corps
Published: May 12, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New White House spokesman Tony Snow got his first eyeball-to-eyeball look at the beast known as the White House press corps on Friday -- and it was Snow who blinked.

A herd of reporters forced Snow to abandon plans to hold his morning briefing in his West Wing office, where he had hoped for a more informal gathering, and return it to the press briefing room, where it has been held since the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. [...]

Some 16 reporters were unable to even get into the office, prompting those way in the back to shout for him to speak up.

One problem was the morning session was scheduled for 9 a.m. (1300 GMT), was switched to 9:30 a.m., then apparently started early at 9:15 a.m.

``Well, I apologize,'' a chastened Snow said. ``That's just flat my fault.'' [...]
The Washington Post has this to say:
From the New Kid, Proceedings With Caution
By Dana Milbank
Saturday, May 13, 2006; Page A02

[...] But if the new press secretary stumbled on the logistics, he offered a refreshing humility.

Has President Bush changed his mind on immigration? "You're asking me a state-of-mind question that predates me," Snow replied. "I'm not even going to try to fake it."

Asked a question by a Russian journalist, he answered: "I will apologize, as the new kid on the block. For today, I'm not going to handle international issues or currency issues. I do not wish to set off global tempests because I frankly just don't know enough on those." [...]
How is it that a former professional journalist is so unprepared? Perhaps the answer is here, in an article at Editor and Publisher:
Snow Already Sparring With News Orgs.
By E&P Staff
Published: May 11, 2006 11:00 AM ET

NEW YORK In his first week in the job, new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is already having issues with CBS News, and slamming The New York Times and USA Today.

Snow has fired off several emails to reporters. One rapped the Times for continuing to “ignore America’s economic progress,” while another hit USA Today for a “misleading Medicare story.” He also knocked CBS News on Wednesday for Jim Axelrod’s piece on seniors having problems with the Bush drug plan. Axelrod responded today.

White House sources say that Snow aims to counter criticism of the administration in an aggressive manner. [...]
Tony Snow was busy slamming the mainstream media, instead of learning how to do his job. He was not busy learning the President's position on topics of interest to the press; he was busy reading -- and responding to -- what the press has said about the President.

To be fair, I don't mean to imply that the President does not have a right to counter his critics. Of course he does. But he also has a responsibility to inform the public about what he is thinking and doing. There is no way that the same person can handle both tasks. If he wants to have someone to rebut critics, that's fine. But he needs to hire someone else to do that job. Either that, or give that job to Tony Snow, and hire someone else to be the White House Press Secretary.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |


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