Peter Baker Answers Questions On Snow’s Health

Yesterday, the Post’s Peter Baker held an online politics chat, which focused heavily on Tony Snow and his ongoing fight with cancer. Some exceprts:

    Ann Arbor, Mich.: I am just sick about the news about Tony Snow. Best wishes and prayers to him and his family.

    Peter Baker: Tony Snow has become a popular figure among a lot of people who watch his daily briefings and a real rock star for the Bush White House at a time when they’re not doing so well on the popularity scale. Republicans were clamoring for him on the fundraising circuit during the election season last year and he’s regularly stopped by admirers seeking his autograph and so on. He’s the first press secretary I’ve seen who has that kind of public persona.

    Tough question: Peter: How will you and other White House reporters balance your need to be tough on Tony Snow in the course of doing your job with the understandable compassion you will have for him, given the recurrence of his cancer?

    Peter Baker: It’s a good question and one we’ll have to grapple with if/when he returns to the podium. He isn’t likely to be briefing for a while, so for the moment we don’t have to confront that. But I think Tony is enough of a professional that he wouldn’t want reporters to go easy on him. He’d think that was insulting. And at the end of the day, we have a job to do and he has a job to do. That said, at the moment, we all hope he concentrates first on what he needs to do for his health.

    Washington: Assuming that Snow does not return, is there any sense of who might replace him? Is Dana Perino considered ready for prime time?

    Peter Baker: No one’s willing to go there at this point, everyone’s hoping that he can beat it the way he did two years ago. Dana Perino, his deputy, will fill in for now. She’s very capable and well liked. But Tony’s got big shoes to fill if it comes to that.