The New York Times Shows It's Worried About Tony Snow’s Image
You can tell the New York Times is worried about Mr. Snow’s reputation. It only took 2 sentences for the reporter to inject the word conspiratorial into the article; all in jest of course. (all emphasis in all quotes mine).
Tony Snow draped his lanky frame across a wooden lectern, leaned forward and gazed out at 850 adoring Republicans who had paid $175 apiece to hear him speak. There was a conspiratorial gleam in his eye, as if he was about to reveal some deep inner secret from his new life as the White House press secretary.
No big deal of course; it’s just a simple play on words and I must be overly touchy so close to the looming Democrat takeover. But seriously, the New York Times must be fighting for filler. This is the silliest most contrived attempt at news blogging that I have seen in some time.
The premise is simple, Tony Snow is popular, he is out working the streets to invigorate Republican support, and it appears that he is in high demand; all the makings of a successful strategy to rally the party base. Thus the New York Times comes to the rescue by insinuating that Tony Snow has crossed some unwritten line. After all, the Times only has the reputation of future Press Secretaries in mind.
His booking agent is the White House political shop, run by Karl Rove, the president’s chief strategist. The White House is not keeping track of how much money Mr. Snow raises. His talks — Saturday night’s was a cross between a one-man show and a religious revival — have attracted little scrutiny so far, but they are giving a much-needed boost to a party whose midterm fortunes appear increasingly bleak.
Getting deep enough yet? Let's keep a tally. Raised eyebrows in a headline – 3 points, the innocent injection of the word conspiratorial in the first paragraph - 1 point, a side item mention of Dennis Hastert’s name about 5 paragraphs in – another point, mention of Karl Rove – 4 points, tie it in with a religious revival – 1 point each and finish it with bleak Republican prospects for another. So far so good, 12 stylistic points for reminding everyone of all the things that liberals oppose.
But wait, the Times article isn’t done yet. What would this article be without the required hand wringing from some Republican somewhere? No worries, the NY Times has that covered as well.
Yet even as the Republican establishment revels in his celebrity — “It’s like Mick Jagger at a rock concert,” Mr. Rove said — Mr. Snow’s extracurricular activities are making some veteran Washington hands, including those with strong Republican ties, deeply uneasy.
“The principal job of the press secretary is to present information to reporters, not propaganda,” said David R. Gergen, who served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and also advised President Bill Clinton. “If he is seen as wearing two hats, reporters as well as the public will inevitably wonder: is he speaking to us now as the traditional press secretary, or is he speaking to us as a political partisan?”
Indeed, Mr. Snow, whose commentary was so sharply critical of Mr. Bush that six months before he was hired, he referred to Mr. Bush as “something of an embarrassment,” got the White House job in part because his independence gave him credibility with reporters. Kenneth J. Duberstein, former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, said Mr. Snow must be careful not to damage that credibility.
“His profile should not be a political profile,” Mr. Duberstein said, “but a press profile on behalf of the president.”
Whoa, hand wringing, extracurricular activities, partisan press secretary, two hats! This is some sort of superfecta; a sure record as far as raised eyebrows go.
But let’s not forget that golden quote that criticizes President Bush at the hands of his own Press secretary. Let’s just round this up to 20 more points for the whole 4 paragraph shot across the bow of Mr. Snow. Not surprisingly the article wasn’t even close to being done.
The article finishes with more of the same sort of admonition, they even manage to work Harriet Meyers name into the mix. I lost count on the stylistic points attributable to under the cuff bashing of Republicans so I will just round it up to 100 points; a sure winner in the hackish world of contrived news story circles.
But as the keynote speaker, of course, he got to choose which facts to defend. There was no mention of Mark Foley, the Florida congressman who resigned in late September amid revelations he sent sexually explicit e-mail to teenage pages, or Jack Abramoff, the corrupt lobbyist, or anybody else who makes Republicans cringe.
That did not sit well with the local news media, which has been following accusations that Mr. Hastert’s aides knew of the Foley scandal several years ago. Just two days earlier, Mr. Bush had been in Chicago to give the speaker his support. After his talk, Mr. Snow gave a mini news conference, and was asked why he failed to raise the Foley issue, “to reassure the people who are paying 175 bucks a plate here tonight.”
“Because,” Mr. Snow shot back tartly, “last time I checked Mark Foley didn’t represent the people of this district.”