Deputy to Take Over Tony Snow's Position
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Today, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who's been undergoing treatment for cancer, announced that he's stepping down on September 14th. President Bush appeared with Snow this afternoon in the White House briefing room. The president said he has already chosen a replacement, Snow's deputy, Dana Perino, will take over next month and become Mr. Bush's first female press secretary.
Here's NPR's David Greene.
DAVID GREENE: Tony Snow came to the White House 16 months ago. His boss didn't attend Snow's daily briefings, but Mr. Bush told reporters today he's been watching.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: It's been a joy to watch him spar with you. He's smart. He's capable. He's witty.
GREENE: Mr. Bush wish Snow good health and says he knows a few things about what's ahead for him.
Pres. BUSH: One, he'll battle cancer and win. And secondly, he'll be a solid contributor to society.
GREENE: Snow said he is thinking of writing a book about how to battle disease. He also said the reason he's leaving is money. The former Fox newsman makes $168,000 in his current job, but made far more before taking it. And he said now is the time he wants to start making more money again. He insisted his health is not the reason he's leaving.
Mr. TONY SNOW (White House Press Secretary): No. Cancer has nothing to do with this decision.
GREENE: He did beat colon cancer two years ago. But this past March, doctors found the cancer returned. Snow has been undergoing chemotherapy with resulting hair and weight loss. He said doctors did fresh CAT scans and MRIs in the past week.
Mr. SNOW: And it indicates that the chemo did exactly what we hoped it would do, which is hold surf. The cancer - the tumors that we've been tracking have not grown.
GREENE: Snow did a bit of reflecting today for one thing he said some media didn't give President Bush a fair shake.
Mr. SNOW: And you find it quite often the public caricature of this man is a grotesque disservice to the man himself and to the job he does.
GREENE: He has relentlessly defended the president and his war policy often at the questioning from the woman in the front middle seat, Helen Thomas. In January, Thomas asked Snow about holding a public referendum on the Iraq war.
Mr. SNOW: Helen, Helen, Helen. No. Helen, no war is popular.
GREENE: Today, the spokesman said he has enjoyed the job.
Mr. SNOW: …and especially, I loved working with you, Helen. I have told people, when I'm your age, I want to be sitting in the front row making life a living hell for a press secretary.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GREENE: And Helen is likely not quite done. Snow will still be at work when the president's Iraq commander delivers his crucial September report to Congress. Then, Snow will be moving on.
David Greene, NPR News, the White House.