Tony Snow Negotiating for Press Secretary Gig

Hotline reports that Tony Snow is leaning toward taking the White House press secretary job but is negotiating for more power.

A week after White House press secretary Scott McClellan suddenly resigned, and — nothing. Late last week, White House chief of staff Josh Bolten directly (firmly but politely) asked senior administration officials to stop unburdening themselves to the process-hungry Washington press corps. That explains, in part, why speculative chatter has diminished.

In the meantime, Fox Newser Tony Snow is said by Republicans familiar with the negotiations to have asked for guaranteed access to the president’s ear and to an unusually large degree of latitude to reconfigure the WH press operation. That pleases the new chief of staff, who wants to relegitimize the press podium in the Brady briefing room.

But Snow, not content to be a herald, also wants near-complete control over what he says from the podium, be it bromides, platitudes or substance. That would encroach on the broad portfolio of responsibilities that Dan Bartlett claims for himself.

I like Tony Snow and think he would do an outstanding job in communicating the president’s message. Until reading this, however, it has struck me as a step backward from being the former host of a major Sunday morning talk show and a national talk show host.

Now I see that he is hoping to turn the podium into his own private microphone, essentially a television commentary show with irregular hours with himself as the call screener. Somehow, this redefinition of the job–which has generally been geared toward giving the views of the president, not the press secretary–seems like a bad idea. (For Bush at least–it would be great for Snow.)

This very much reminds me of the 1980 presidential convention, when Ronald Reagan was lobbying former President Gerald Ford to be his running mate. After a few days of Ford trying to negotiate a co-presidency, Reagan decided he might be better off with George H.W. Bush.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    I like Tony Snow, he’s one of those pundits who don’t shoout or demonize the opposition. This could be a good gig for him but I suspect there are too many controls on what he can and cannot say in this job to suit his independence. He’d certainly be a great improvement over Scott McClellan.

  2. Bhoe says:

    Somehow, this redefinition of the job�which has generally been geared toward giving the views of the president, not the press secretary�seems like a bad idea.

    I think that having the focus on Snow would actually help Bush immensely. It would take the focus off of his many failures and incompetencies.

  3. Patrick McGuire says:

    Back when I had satellite TV, there were only two sources of news that I trusted, Tony Snow and his brother Britt Hume. I hope that Tony is negotiating a deal that would ensure that his own personal credibility is not diminished in any way.

    I know that part of the negotiations is Tony’s desire to use his own words during press conferences, even if they are politically incorrect. What I wouldn’t give to have him tell Helen Thomas on national TV that she has been smoking dope.

    Tony is in a rare position. He has a gig that he greatly enjoys (and is highly successful at it too) and before he is prepared to give that up, he is going to name his own price.

    I envy him.

  4. Roger says:

    When no-credibility-remaining McClellan’s resignation was announced and Snow’s name was among those floated as a replacement, I stated on a thread here that Snow wouldn’t get the job because he’d come in with no credibility to begin with. I stated I thought Bushco would pick someone basically unknown to the public who looked professional and thus would have some appearance of credibility for at least a few weeks of spinning the Bush lies before it caught up with him/her. Looks like I may have given Bush too much credit yet again. At any rate, yes, Snow may very well be appointed. I can see that clearly now. It actually makes sense. If you appoint a Press Secretary with no credibility, then he has no credibility to lose. It’s brilliant. Whew! What a long strange trip we’re on in Bushco world.