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Tony Snow to Replace McClellan in Press Job

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Tony Snow to Replace McClellan in Press Job

Tony Snow to Replace McClellan in Press Job

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Today, President Bush introduced his new spokesman, the man who'll often be the public face of the White House. He is Fox News commentator and conservative pundit, Tony Snow. Snow's move to the White House is something of a homecoming. He worked for Mr. Bush's father as a speechwriter. He is expected to take over in about two weeks for Scott McClellan. McClellan announced his resignation last week as part of a larger personnel shift in the administration. NPR's David Greene reports.

DAVID GREENE reporting:

If you went to the Fox News Radio web site today, Tony Snow was still offering top ten list of his favorite web links. Number one, Americanpolitics.com. It's a cheeky, left wing site that's never dull, Snow boasts, and never nice to George W. Bush. From here on out, Snow may have to watch what he says.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Good morning. I'm here in the briefing room to break some news. I've asked Tony Snow to serve as my new press secretary. Tony already knows most of you, and he's agreed to take the job anyway.

GREENE: Mr. Bush's last two press secretaries were Ari Fleischer, a veteran of Capitol Hill who worked for the Bush campaign in 2000, and Scott McClellan, a longtime Bush insider who had been Fleischer's deputy. They were safe choices, who had the faith of Mr. Bush's inner circle. But now, facing the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and looking for a spark, Mr. Bush has turned to a news personality, and occasional firebrand. Snow's been known even to attack President Bush, usually as a Republican whose lost his conservative way.

After disappointing election results last November, Snow even called the Ppresident something of an embarrassment. He said Mr. Bush has a listless domestic policy. Once he said the President lost control of the federal budget. Today, the president let it be known he'd heard these comments from Snow.

President BUSH: He's not afraid to express his own opinions. For those of you who've read his columns and listened to his radio show, he sometimes has disagreed with me. I asked him about those comments and he said, you should have heard what I said about the other guy.

GREENE: The president has always preferred that his chief spokesman stick to the day's message, and resist discussing White House decision making. Mr. Bush gave no sign this approach was about to change.

President BUSH: My job is to make decisions, and his job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people.

GREENE: In 1991, Snow was editorial page editor of the Washington Times when the elder President Bush brought him in as a speechwriter. Snow went to Fox in 1996, anchoring the television network's Sunday morning news program, then moving to radio to host The Tony Snow Show. Here he is, this morning:

Mr. TONY SNOW (Appointee, White House Spokesman): One of the things I want to do is just make it clear that I, one of the reasons I took the job is not only because I believe in the president. Because, believe it or not, I want to work with you. These are times that are going to be very challenging. We've got a lot of big issues ahead, and we've got a lot of important things that all of us are going to be covering together.

GREENE: Then the president walked out, refusing to respond to shouted questions. That led one reporter to blurt out, off to a good start. Snow then returned alone to mingle briefly with reporters. He told one gathering that he had not returned to the White House to drink the Kool-Aid, and that he could serve the President with his candor as well as his loyalty.

David Greene, NPR News, the White House.

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