Bush hires right-wing critic and media veteran Snow as press secretary

US President George W Bush has hired a commentator on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, who regularly criticises his policies, as his press secretary.

Tony Snow, a veteran TV and newspaper journalist as well a former speechwriter for the President's father George Bush Snr, is a popular figure among conservatives in the US and known for his tough criticism of the Bush administration, including its calling his domestic policy "timid", called his commitment to conservatism "wavering" and his energy policy "a clunker".

He also said of the President: "The President doesn't seem to give a rip about spending restraint when it comes to federal spending. George W Bush is the boy who can't say no."

Commenting on the hiring of one of his critics, Bush said: "I asked him about those comments and he said, 'you should have heard what I said about the other guy'.

"I like his perspective, I like the perspective he brings to the job and I think you're going to like it too."

Snow replaces Scott McClellan, who resigned earlier this month as part of an ongoing shake-up of White House staff that also included the departure of chief of staff Andrew H Card.

McClellan's position had become increasingly difficult following a string of gaffes, including most recently making light of a hunting accident in which Vice-President Dick Cheney shot a friend, who ended up seriously injured.

Among other names in the frame to replace McClellan were Dan Senor, a former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Snow has 27 years' experience as a journalist, including stints at the Washington Times, Detroit News and a syndicated newspaper column which ran between 1993 and 2002. He had been with Fox News since 1996.

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