Blizzard of Criticism

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 27, 2006; 10:42 AM

Tony Snow hadn't so much as walked into the briefing room to thank the president for appointing him when the liberal bloggers started ripping him apart.

Welcome to the White House, dude.

The libs were having the most fun rounding up past columns in which the Fox News commentator took potshots at the prez (while ignoring the 90 percent of verbiage in which Snow was supportive).

This strikes me as Beltway entertainment that no one else is going to much care about. David Gergen went through the same thing when he joined Bill Clinton's staff. If Snow had never written a negative word about George W. Bush, critics would have said he's a robot marching in lockstep with the man. Since Snow has chided Bush for spending too much and for a flaccid second-term domestic agenda, the White House spin is that the president is reaching out of his inner circle to bring in an occasional critic.

All this paper-trail scrutiny does is prove that Snow has opinions. You can be sure that from this moment on, his opinions, or, I should say, expressed opinions, will reflect those of his new boss.

More interesting to me is whether Snow will really get to be a policy player, as he's been assured, and whether he can warm up the deep-freeze relationship between the White House and the press corps.

"Even as Democratic groups sent out e-mail messages highlighting some of Mr. Snow's harsher analyses of the president, they said it should not mask his loyalty to his party and his new boss," says the New York Times.

"The groups were also quick to note Mr. Snow's connection to the Fox News Channel, which is where administration officials tend to show up for interviews in times of trouble, as Vice President Dick Cheney did after he accidentally shot a hunting partner last winter.

"Mr. Snow's career change also might not be what Fox News executives want in terms of their public relations defense against criticism that their network is philosophically sympathetic to Mr. Bush.

"As Karen Finney, the Democratic National Committee spokeswoman, put it Wednesday, 'To our mind he is just moving from one part of the conservative infrastructure to another.' Fox executives have dismissed such statements as partisan sniping at the network's conservative opinion makers, Mr. Snow among them, who operate separately from its news division."

In the blogosphere, they're off and running.

The Nation's John Nichols "Veteran Republican retainer Tony Snow will probably be a better prevaricator-in-chief than either McClellan or Fleischer. Why? Because he is a confirmed ideologue who actually believes at least some of the big lies that he will be peddling.

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