Tony Snow and the Deteriorating Media

May 2, 2006 · 12:05 AM EDT

President Bush’s new White House Press Secretary is all the rage. But unfortunately, Tony Snow’s appointment will only feed the media’s craving for personal recognition and attention.

One of the major problems with the media today is too much focus on the “personality” delivering the news, while any actual substance of the news takes second stage.

For years, the only face-time reporters might get at a press event would be at an official presidential press conference in the East Room or the Rose Garden. But Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart started televising the daily press briefing from the White House back in 1995. This gave reporters a daily opportunity to be on-camera asking their questions and proving to the American public they were holding the White House’s feet to the fire.

In reality, the White House press corps could ask any question they wanted well before the television cameras were turned on, but it was the cut-away camera that raised the stakes.

Now, with Snow behind the podium everyday, the daily White House briefing will get significantly more attention. Snow’s profile and stature should, at least temporarily, help the White House get out the president’s message. But the Snow honeymoon will be short-lived and members of the press corps will resume taking their opportunities to “get” the White House and have it all captured on-camera.

Out-going Press Secretary Scott McClellan was actually a better choice for the position. He was bland and as energetic in front of the camera as John Kerry at a Bush reelection party. McClellan’s job was to prevent any breaking news at the briefing.

He succeeded more often than not, and that’s why the press corps didn’t like him.

Even though Snow as been promised a more “inside” role in the West Wing, he will still be forced to deliver the same message and same administration policies that McClellan did, the same policies that incite an antagonistic press corps.

Both the White House and the media appear to have a false sense of hope about Snow’s upcoming tenure. Tony Snow works for President Bush, and he is now a former member of the media who is being paid to present the Bush administration’s message. He will only be as open and forthcoming as he is told to be.

And the notion that the press corps will be easier on Snow because he is a former journalist is ludicrous. Ninety-five percent of the people in the briefing room used to be his competitor. Why would they let him off the hook now that he is working for an unpopular president?

All in all, Snow’s appointment will do little to further the way news is delivered today and will only contribute to reporters’ need to put themselves first and the news second.

This column first appeared on Town Hall on April 29, 2006.