Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow Passed Away

July 12, 2008

Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush’s press secretary, died Saturday of colon cancer. He was 53.

“America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character,” President Bush said in a statement from Camp David, where he was spending the weekend. “It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work.”

Snow died at 2 a.m. at Georgetown University Hospital, according to former employer Fox News.

Snow, who served as the first host of the television news program “Fox News Sunday” from 1996 to 2003, would later say that in the Bush administration he was enjoying “the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I’m ever going to have.”

Snow was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006 during a White House shake-up. Unlike McClellan, who came to define caution and bland delivery from the White House podium, Snow was never shy about playing to the cameras.

With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster’s good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook – if not always a command of the facts – he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.

He served just 17 months as press secretary, a tenure interrupted by his second bout with cancer. In 2005 doctors had removed his colon and he began six months of chemotherapy. In March 2007 a cancerous growth was removed from his abdominal area and he spent five weeks recuperating before returning to the White House.

“All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer,” Bush said.

Snow resigned as Bush’s chief spokesman last September, citing not his health but a need to earn more than the $168,000 a year he was paid in the government post. In April, he joined CNN as a commentator.

As press secretary, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president’s policies. During daily briefings, he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.

Critics suggested that Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation. He was the first press secretary, by his own accounting, to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.

Although a star in conservative politics, as a commentator he had not always been on the president’s side. He once called Bush “something of an embarrassment” in conservative circles and criticized what he called Bush’s “lackluster” domestic policy.

Most of Snow’s career in journalism involved expressing his conservative views. After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1977 and studying economics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, he wrote editorials for The Greensboro (N.C.) Record, and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

He was the editorial page editor of The Newport News (Va.) Daily Press and deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News before moving to Washington in 1987 to become editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

Snow left journalism in 1991 to join the administration of the first President Bush as director of speechwriting and deputy assistant to the president for media affairs. He then rejoined the news media to write nationally syndicated columns for The Detroit News and USA Today during much of the Clinton administration.

Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, called Snow a “renaissance man.”

Robert Anthony Snow was born June 1, 1955, in Berea, Ky., and spent his childhood in the Cincinnati area. Survivors include his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, whom he married in 1987, and three children.

Story by Douglass K Daniel

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Former Bush Spokesman Says President Used Propaganda

May 28, 2008

The spokesman who defended President Bush’s policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war is now blasting his former employers, saying the Bush administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth.

In excerpts from a 341-page book to be released Monday, Scott McClellan writes on Iraq that Bush “and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

“[I]n this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security,” McClellan wrote.

McClellan also sharply criticizes the administration on its handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush‘s presidency,” he wrote. “Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term.”

Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House would not comment Tuesday because they haven’t seen the book.

Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to Bush, said advisers to the president should speak up when they have policy concerns.

“Scott never did that on any of these issues as best I can remember or as best as I know from any of my White House colleagues,” said Townsend, now a CNN contributor. “For him to do this now strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional.”

Fox News contributor and former White House adviser Karl Rove said on that network Tuesday that the excerpts from the book he’s read sound more like they were written by a “left-wing blogger” than his former colleague.

In a brief phone conversation with CNN Tuesday evening, McClellan made clear that he stands behind the accuracy of his book. McClellan said he cannot give on-the-record quotes yet because of an agreement with his publisher.

Early in the book, which CNN obtained late Tuesday, McClellan wrote that he believes he told untruths on Bush’s behalf in the case of CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked to the media.

Rove and fellow White House advisers Elliot Abrams and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were accused of leaking the name of Plame — whose husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, had gone public with charges the Bush administration had “twisted” facts to justify the war in Iraq.

Libby was convicted last year of lying to a grand jury and federal agents investigating the leak. Bush commuted his 30-month prison term, calling it excessive. At the time, McClellan called the three “good individuals” and said he spoke to them before telling reporters they were not involved.

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” he wrote. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively.”

McClellan wrote he didn’t realize what he said was untrue until reporters began digging up details of the case almost two years later.

A former spokesman for Bush when he was governor of Texas, McClellan was named White House press secretary in 2003, replacing Ari Fleischer. McClellan had previously been a deputy press secretary and was the traveling spokesman for the Bush campaign during the 2000 election.

He announced he was resigning in April 2006 at a news conference with Bush.

“One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas talking about the good old days of his time as the press secretary,” Bush said at that conference. “And I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, job well done.”

This story was found @ CNN.com

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