New White House pressec Tony Snow is taking a more aggressive line with the press corps, sending out emails critical of the elite media's coverage. The DC Examiner's Bill Sammon reports:
New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is starting off in a combative mode against the press by issuing detailed rebuttals to what he considers unfair coverage of Bush.
“The New York Times continues to ignore America’s economic progress,” blared the headline of an e-mail sent to reporters Wednesday by the White House press office.
Minutes earlier, another e-mail blasted CBS News, which has had an unusually rocky relationship with the White House since 2004, when CBS aired what turned out to be forged documents in a failed effort to question the president’s military service.
“CBS News misleadingly reports that only 8 million seniors have signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage,” Wednesday’s missive said. “But 37 million seniors have coverage.”
The Associated Press reports that Tony Snow didn't say much on his first day at the White House.
President Bush had two press secretaries Monday — incoming Tony Snow and outgoing Scott McClellan.
The two men are sharing responsibilities in a final few days of transition.
Snow and McClellan stood behind the cameras in the Oval Office as Bush announced his nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to be the next director of the
Then, Snow made his first solo appearance on the White House podium — but only to introduce John Negroponte, the national intelligence director, for a televised briefing on Hayden's nomination. Snow's role amounted to speaking 59 words.
Today we're starting a new tradition here at NewsBusters, the weekend captionfest. Basically, we post a picture from the news and NB readers post alternative captions to it.
Our first picture is of now former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's last day on the job. The original AP caption for this photo reads as follows: "White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan waves as he leaves the podium, Friday, May 5, 2006, after finishing his last briefing at the White House."
Michael Kinsley writes in Slate that "journalists sincerely believe" they deserve "constitutional special treatment" when it comes to deciding when to publish classified material. They believe that for Bush to decide when to publish classified material is to give him dictatorial powers. But for them to decide means a victory for the First Amendment.
Many in the media believe that the Constitution contains a "reporter's privilege" to protect the identity of sources in circumstances, like a criminal trial, in which citizens ordinarily can be compelled to produce information or go to jail. The Supreme Court and lower courts have ruled and ruled again that there is no such privilege. And it certainly is not obvious that the First Amendment, which seems to be about the right to speak, actually protects a right not to speak. Yet many in the media not only believe that it does. They believe passionately that it is not merely OK but profoundly noble to follow their own interpretation and ignore the Supreme Court's.
Why must the president obey constitutional interpretations he disagrees with if journalists don't have to? Upholding the Constitution is actually part of his job description. It is not part of theirs....
Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review, believes that the blacktie White House Correspondent's Dinner, which encourages its members to snare the best celebrity guests, "underscores the notion that journalists are part of a wealthy elite, completely out of touch with ordinary Americans."
Reider of course does not believe that this is true, and only believes that this event should be scrapped because it makes the Washington press corps seem elitist.
This dinner has been an embarrassment for years. It's well past time to shut it down. It's a vivid symbol, like we need another one, of what's so very wrong with elite Washington journalism.
Years ago, the dinner was a low-key event where Washington journalists entertained their sources. The game changed in 1987 when the late Michael Kelly, then with the Baltimore Sun, snagged Iran/contra It Girl Fawn Hall as one of the Sun's guests.
The story hasn't been on the media radar much of late, but the legal
team of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former Bush admin official at the
center of the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation, came out
swinging this week, landing a number of blows against reporters and
news organizations in a court filing defending Libby's desire to compel
them to submit evidence he deems essential to his defense.
After the Libby team began poking holes in the stories of journalists
Tim Russert, Judith Miller, and Matt Cooper and others, the press
hasn't been especially interested in following the story. There are a
few blogs doing a good job of chronicling the battle between Libby and
special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. One such blog is JustOneMinute,
which has provided a PDF version (and some cogent
analysis) of Libby's most recent filing in two parts, here
The American Thinker has a great
summary of the filing by attorney Clarice Feldman:
been granted a window on the struggle between Lewis
“Scooter” Libby and
the elite media over his access to their internal documents. Libby is
charged with federal crimes because his versions of conversations with
reporters differ from the accounts of the media people. He seeks
evidence from their files about what they knew and what they privately
wrote at the time. In a “he said/she said”
confrontation, access to
supporting evidence becomes critical to the ability to mount a
If you ever wanted to know how easy it easy to distract a reporter, and how short is the attention span of the Washington press corps, watch how a whole team of journalists saved the day as a mother duck and her ducklings tried to cross the street.
The reporters were waiting for Karl Rove to come out and make an appearance, but apparently Rove had a paddling up his sleeve, and instead of waiting to pepper Karl Rove with questions about his grand jury testimony, the gaggle of reporters rushed to the aid of the gaggle of ducks.
Watch the Media Heroism Slideshow to see how an entire group of reporters risked life and limb for ducks and put a temporary pause on harassing a lameduck's henchman.
Columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts write in the Washington Post that the "the consensus is that President Bush and Bush impersonator Steve Bridges stole Saturday's show -- and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's cutting satire fell flat." The problem with Colbert, they say, was that he "ignored the cardinal rule of Washington humor: Make fun of yourself, not the other guy."
"You have to have a great deal of confidence to do self-deprecating humor, especially when you're being attacked day in and day out," said Landon Parvin, who helped Bush and Bridges write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice with his supposed inner thoughts. Parvin, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, is responsible for most of the president's intentional humor, as well as the famous parody song "Secondhand Clothes" for Nancy Reagan's 1982 Gridiron appearance, and Laura Bush's deadpan triumph at last year's correspondents' dinner.
I linked to a Wall Street Journal editorial
about the elite media's double standard on leaks, especially how leaks
to the New York Times and Washington Post that damaged the Bush admin's
anti-terrorism efforts are awarded prizes while syndicated columnist
Robert Novak is condemned for revealing the occupation of an outspoken
Bush critic. Today, the Journal prints a letter from NYT executive
editor Bill Keller which responds to some of the editorial's charges.
Unsurprisingly, Keller makes no mention of the Valerie Plame Wilson
matter, a scandal which his paper's news and editorial pages have
overhyped since its inception. Instead, he focuses exclusively on leaks
which he does find not only acceptable but praiseworthy, that is the
disclosure that the U.S. may secretly be imprisoning suspected
terrorists (leaked to the Washington Post), and that Americans said to
be communicating internationally with terrorists are being spied on by
the NSA (leaked to the New York Times).
Keller bristles at the Journal's suggestion that the Times's and Post's sources are partisans:
The Washington Postreports that new White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten is considering removing cameras for most of news conferences. The thinking is this will discourage reporters from grandstanding and being heroes for their favorite liberal causes in the press room.
Bolten tipped his hand in only one area, suggesting that the White House might stop allowing its daily news briefing to be televised in full in hopes of discouraging posturing for the cameras and toning down the confrontational atmosphere. Television cameras were permitted only for the opening minutes of the briefing until Clinton White House press secretary Michael McCurry allowed them to air the entire session beginning in 1995.
At the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, President Bush first appeared with Steve Bridges, who's made a name for himself impersonating Bush on national television. Bush would say something and the impersonator would say what he "really" thought. RightWinged has a video of the routine.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Members of the White House Correspondents' Association, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen --
BUSH IMPERSONATOR: Here I am.
Here I am at another one of these dang press dinners. Could be home asleep, little Barney curled up at my feet. But no, I've got to pretend I like being here.
The media really ticks me off. The way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say.
NBC White House correspondent David Gregory got into a sparring match with President Bush during a press conference today. Asked David Gregory:
"Mr. President, we're seeing some turnover and some change within your administration, and I wonder what it says about what you think is necessary to turn your presidency around at this point?"
The president responded with: "I think it's necessary to continue doing -- to achieving results for the American people. We've got big challenges for this country and I've got a strategy to deal with them."
Bush then cited off a laundry list of current issues to deal with, ending with, "So there's a lot to do today, but we'll continue to be results-oriented."
Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei told current press secretary Scott McClellan that "requests – this is a serious question – to turn these TVs on to a station other than Fox" have been denied. He wanted to know if there was "a White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?”
In the first interview segment of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly told former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer that it would be nice to be able to tell reporters like Helen Thomas (politely) that everyone knows they have an agenda, but they can't. (Actually, Fleischer grew confident enough to suggest that to Helen, saying after the 2002 elections, that "Helen, you sound like a [campaign] commercial that didn't work.")
Ari responded by saying that questions that the public thinks are stupid is one reason the media's in decline in public esteem: “The press secretary's job is to mix it up a little bit with the press in a respectful way but also in the modern media world, where the country gets to watch the questions, that's one of the reasons I think, Bill, the press is in decline substantially because they bring a bit of it on themselves. I know one reporter who once said there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I think the reality is, the public watches some of these questions, not all, but some of them, and they think, that was really a stupid question.”
Fired CIA officer Mary O.
McCarthy went on offense Monday, denying through her lawyer that she
has done anything wrong. But the agency is standing by its claim that
she was dismissed last week because she "knowingly and willfully shared
classified intelligence." It has been reported that one of her media
contacts was Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a
Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the so-called "secret" prisons that
the CIA allegedly used to house top level al Qaeda detainees in Eastern
We're as curious as anyone to see
how Ms. McCarthy's case unfolds. But this would appear to be only the
latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press
corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in
the "intelligence community" who have been trying to undermine the Bush
During yesterday's press briefing Scott McClellan was asked about his soon-to-be replacement, Tony Snow. Perhaps the most interesting exchange was when a reporter asked McClellan what his "unique style" was. He responded, "Putting up with you."
Q Nancy Pelosi says that having Tony Snow now behind the podium there is not going to make much difference. What would you say to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Tony Snow is going to do a great job for the President. I saw him earlier today, and looked up at him and told him, "I used to be your height before I started in this position." (Laughter.)
Yesterday incoming White House press secretary Tony Snow sat down with Fox News' Brit Hume. Snow elaborated on how he wanted to approach the job of press secretary and explained earlier critical remarks he made about President Bush. About those criticisms, he said "there are probably a lot of people in the press room who from time to time say, well, I wish I had written or said that."
BRIT HUME: So how will Tony Snow approach his new job? Will he represent the president to the press corps or will he represent the press corps to the president? Well, who better to ask than Tony Snow himself? Tony, welcome.
TONY SNOW: Good to be here, thanks, Brit.
HUME: First of all, tell me about the assurance you have about your access to all that goes on in the White House and your access to the president.
SNOW: Well, the press secretaries in this White House have all had what they call walk-in access. So when you need to you walk in and talk to the president and I've talked with them and basically I've had access to every meeting and every bit of information I need to get my hands on.
HUME: And how do you -- you said in that brief encounter with the press today that you want to work with those people.
HUME: Now, you've seen how poisonous that atmosphere can be in that briefing room. What does that mean exactly?
In his Washington Post column today, David Broder takes on the government-press relationship, but predictably, only the government side is evaluated. In Broder's eyes, it's suspicious government vs. idealistic press corps:
This is a troubling case for those of us in journalism. Our view is that it's the government's responsibility to keep its secrets secret and that it's our responsibility to ferret out information so the public is aware of the actions being taken in its name...But we also know that administrations of both parties tend to restrict information -- and that the only way for the public to learn of questionable policies or actions is for conscientious individuals to break that official code of silence.
MediaBistro runs an email from NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller sent to liberal journalist Murray Waas, in which Keller claims the Bush adminstration is "declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
"I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us -- The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card.
"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
President Bush announced today that radio host Tony Snow will become his new press secretary. Here's how the blogosphere is reacting:
Dean Esmay: "He's intelligent, well-spoken, and funny. He can even take on a vicious demagogue like Bill Maher and come off looking intelligent and reasonable."
Captain's Quarters: "From his years of radio duty, Tony knows how to talk extemporaneously
and engage in debate on a moment's notice. It would be hard to imagine
Tony being at a loss for words or failing to present the best case for
any position in which he believes.
Hotline: Bush and Snow's "mutual respect stems from several sources. One is -- both are evangelicals. That link binds together their
worldview and most especially, their view of their place in the larger
scheme of things. Another is -- Snow seems Bush as a political gambler, in a good way."
Protein Wisdom: "Glib, articulate, comfortable in front of the camera—just the kind of
smiling fascist Press Secretary you’d expect the Bushies to install as
a mouthpiece for their sinister imperialist agenda. Cue: leftwing
apoplexy and the almost ritualistic, frothing invocation of Roger Ailes."
Xrlq: "Scott McClellan was a disaster for [Bush's] agenda. He was completely
inept at explaining Bush's policies, and embarrassingly bad at
everything a press secretary has to do. Every day, he projected to the
entire world a pathetic image of sad sackery– and with the presidential
seal right there under his quacking face. To say Tony Snow would be an upgrade would be the quintessential understatment."
It's official: Tony Snow will be the next White House press secretary. Media writer Howard Kurtz writes in the Washington Post:
Fox News commentator Tony Snow agreed last night to become White House press secretary after top officials assured him that he would be not just a spokesman but an active participant in administration policy debates, people familiar with the discussions said.
A former director of speechwriting for President Bush's father, Snow views himself as well positioned to ease the tensions between this White House and the press corps because he understands both politics and journalism, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appointment had not been officially confirmed, although an announcement is expected today.
Fired CIA leaker Mary McCarthy gave money to Joe Sestak, the Democrat in the race for a Pennsylvania U.S. House seat. The Republican incumbent, Congressman Curt Weldon, says Sestak should return the money.
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon called yesterday for Democratic opponent Joe Sestak to return $350 in campaign contributions from Mary O. McCarthy, the CIA investigator fired last week for allegedly leaking classified information to the news media.
Sestak's spokeswoman noted, in reply, that the CIA employee had not been charged with any crime and said she saw no reason for the money to be returned "at this time."
McCarthy, who worked at the National Security Council when Sestak worked there in the 1990s, donated $100 to Sestak on March 1 and $250 on March 11, according to a campaign finance report the Seventh Congressional District candidate filed with the Federal Election Commission.
On Thursday's edition of CNN's The Situation Room, pundit commentator, Jack Cafferty called President Bush a hypocrite for "lecturing" Chinese President Hu about human rights. Cafferty blames President Bush for several human rights violations he has deemed, including the Patriot Act.
Anyone still intent on believing the nonsensical argument that because most media outlets are corporate-owned this makes them somehow conservative should head over to Michelle Malkin's new web video channel, Hot Air and watch her first episode which talks about the extent to which American companies are assisting the efforts of China's communist government to repress its citizens.
Time reports that Fox News commentator Tony Snow has been given the go-ahead by doctors to consider the job of White House press secretary.
Snow, a father of three and a sax player, is the bona fide outsider that Republican allies have long prescribed for Bushworld and would bring irreverence to a place that hasn't seen a lot of fun lately. "White Houses are weird places," he told a 2004 panel on White House speechwriting. Snow had his colon removed after he was found to have cancer last year, but his doctors have approved the possibility of his taking the grueling post.
BRIT HUME: That is not an exercise simply of First Amendment rights. This was a violation of her oath and her responsibility.
CHRIS WALLACE: All right. I'm going to...
JUAN WILLIAMS: Let me -- no, let me...
CHRIS WALLACE: No, no, no. No.
WILLIAMS: Let me just quickly respond.
Brit, she took a risk. She was very aware of what she had signed. She is now bearing the cost of having broken that pledge.
WALLACE: So this is an act of conscience?
WILLIAMS: And so in that sense, yes, I do believe it's an act of honor.
WALLACE: And if it's an act of conscience, then why did she do it surreptitiously?