The L.A. Times runs several pieces on Tony Snow today. I’d like to highlight two, for the juxtaposition.
One story is designed to showcase the view of many on the left that Snow, as a former Fox News journalist, is a sniveling sycophant of the Bush Administration. The story is titled Guffaws About a Fox Guarding the White House, and begins in this way:
NEW YORK — The selection of Fox News host Tony Snow on Wednesday as the next White House press secretary reignited a debate about the network’s political leanings.
The liberal blogosphere chortled about the choice. “Snow, like everybody else on the payroll at Fox, is already a White House spokesman,” the blog Reclusive Leftist read, one of many liberal sites that mocked the move. “Is there really a need to give him an office in the West Wing and pay him a government salary?”
On the same page, another story highlights numerous quotes from Snow designed to reveal the awkward truth that Snow has been very critical of the Bush White House in the past — perhaps too critical! The thrust of the story appears to be: boy, this guy has uttered quite a few things that are certain to come back to haunt him — and here are some of them! The story is titled New Bush Hire Has an Outspoken Past. The deck headline reads: “Some say Tony Snow’s bluntness in matters such as race may be a risk as press secretary.” (Good old “some“! Is there anything they don’t know?) Here is a reference to Snow’s past criticism of Bush:
As a conservative commentator, Snow’s job was to be provocative and fire up the faithful. Sometimes that led him to level blunt criticism of Bush, whose policy agenda he recently derided as “listless.” Snow also said his future boss appeared “impotent” in defending his presidential powers.
A sidebar (apparently not available online) is titled “In the words of Tony Snow” and has these quotes, among others:
“A Republican president and a Republican Congress have lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding [sic -- P.] the public fisc. George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion.” — Townhall.com, March 17, 2006
“No president has looked this impotent this long when it comes to defending presidential power and prerogatives. Nearly 57 months into his administration, President Bush has yet to veto a single bill of any type. . . .” — Townhall.com, Sept. 30, 2005
“Bush, for all his personal appeal, ultimately bolstered his detractors’ claims that he didn’t have the drive and work ethic to succeed.” — Townhall.com, Nov. 16, 2000
The editors appear resistant to the obvious conclusion: that the theme of the first story (Snow’s sycophancy to Bush) is completely undercut by the theme of the second (Snow’s bluntness, including his harsh criticism of Bush). For example, the story about Snow’s alleged sycophancy never says, “But Snow has been very critical of the President. For example . . .” And the other story, about Snow’s allegedly sharp tongue, derides as White House “spin” the argument that Snow’s criticism of the President shows his honesty:
But how will Snow adapt those sharp-tongued skills to his new role at the White House, where his predecessor, Scott McClellan, seemed to make it his goal to appear as sedate and non-provocative as possible? Bush and his aides on Wednesday tried to put a positive spin on Snow’s bluntness, offering his past words as evidence that the White House was not as averse to dissent, as critics had alleged.
Meanwhile, the editors of the Los Angeles Times tried to put a negative spin on it.
And readers of this blog saw through it.
P.S. I love the comment Bush attributed to Snow regarding his criticism of the president:
“For those of you who have read his columns and listened to his radio show, he sometimes has disagreed with me,” Bush said as he introduced Snow to a packed West Wing press room. “I asked him about those comments, and he said, ‘You should have heard what I said about the other guy.’ “
Heh. Now that’s a guy who can outthink and outperform David Gregory and Helen Thomas.