Snow’s Got ‘Street Cred’

Jim Rutenberg‘s news analysis in the New York Times on Tony Snow is worth a full read: “In formally naming the Fox News commentator Tony Snow to be his press secretary on Wednesday, President Bush completed a decade-long transformation of the role of the presidential spokesman from behind-the-scenes functionary to daily on-camera personality.”

“Mr. Snow is something the White House briefing room has not yet had at the lectern: a star of the opinionated cable news era. But he is also something Mr. Bush has never had: a free-wheeling outsider in a very public position, and one with a history of sharing critical opinions of the president.”

As Mark McKinnon, the president’s campaign media consultant, explains, “Tony has huge street cred. It gives him credibility, and that’s the most important thing for a press secretary.”

Of course, Rutenberg also looks at the angle of Snow’s now former employer: “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.”