Tony Snow‘s move to the White House last week set off the predictable chuckling about Fox News Channel’s influence in the Oval Office. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann dubbed it an “interdepartmental transfer.”
But most considered it a master stroke.
“The modern White House briefing has turned into a TV show, and it’s a sparring match between the press and the government,” former press secretary Ari Fleischer told FNC’s Bill O’Reilly. “Tony Snow is going to excel at that.”
White House spinmeisters told the press the hire reflects a desire to mend ties and foster increased openness.
Granted, Snow doesn’t start until May 8, but on the day of his introduction it seemed like business as usual. The President introduced Snow and thanked Scott McClellan, but took no questions. Snow looked sheepish following his new boss out as NBC’s David Gregory blurted out his question.
Then he stuck to type by granting an exclusive interview to Fox News’ Brit Hume.
So the White House got an upgrade, but don’t expect harmony. From the White House’s perspective, the goal in the briefing room is to make the press look shrill while scoring points by looking as if they’re not really trying.
“There is an element of theater; the press has to look ornery, not you,” says CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley. “When the media looks hostile and rude, it works in their favor.”