WASHINGTON: President Bush's appointment of conservative Fox commentator Tony Snow as White House press secretary is being seen by some as a step in the right direction for White House press relations.
Jake Siewert, press secretary under President Bill Clinton and now a VP at Alcoa, said Snow's experience at the White House, as a speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush, would work to his advantage.
"You need to be as much a reporter within the White House to find out what's going on [and] do that job effectively," he noted.
Snow's 25-year career in journalism includes a stint with the Washington Times. He most recently hosted the Tony Snow Show on Fox News Radio and Weekend Live with Tony Snow on the Fox News Channel.
He is the first Washington pundit to take the press secretary job and the first journalist to go directly from the media to the post since Ron Nessen during Gerald Ford's presidency.
Much has been made of Snow's public criticism of Bush in the past, but Siewert said that could work to his advantage.
"[Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan] were seen as very loyal; loyal to a fault," he noted. "Someone who comes in with
a public record of having been willing to criticize the President's policies will instantly have more credibility with the press."
Tucker Eskew, who served as deputy assistant to the President and director of the White House office of global communications during Bush's first term, agreed that Snow's history could benefit both him and the President. He added, however, that Snow's presence won't likely change the dynamic between the White House and the press corps.
"I don't think the contentiousness will be significantly reduced," said Eskew, currently a founding partner of communications firm ViaNovo. "But hitting the refresh button can and will help."