Posts Tagged ‘Scott McClellan’

Robert Anthony “Tony” Snow, 1955 – 2008

July 12, 2008

The sad announcement today of Tony Snow’s death closes the book on many of the questions I had about why the former news anchor opted to become White House press secretary after having already suffered one bout of cancer. Given his illness and high profile before taking the job, I never understood why he wanted such a grueling position — especially in a White House that didn’t seem to value it.

From my vantage point, I thought Snow did that extremely difficult job as well as it can be done — even following after the buffoonish Scott McClellan. This is how Fox’s news account put it: “In his year-and-a-half at the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president’s policies. During daily briefings, he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.”

When I last blogged about Snow, I wrote “Ari Fleischer told me in September that the job was “the most rewarding, intellectually stimulating, fascinating, wonderful, most grinding, grueling, pressure filled” he could ever do in his life. Given the problems in working for such a problem-plagued administration, one in its waning days where the prospects of things getting any better are dim, Snow had a hard enough road in front of him.

For many of his predecessors, such as George Stephanopoulos, who briefly did it at the beginning of the Clinton Administration, the press secretary position is a stepping stone to a career in the big-time media. But Snow, a former Fox News personality, already had that. Granted, he won for himself, unlike Scott McClellan, the important right to participate in principals’ meetings, which made the job desirable…

All I can say is the guy must be a true believer. Like Elizabeth Edwards who has encouraged her husband to press on with his campaign, Snow is putting the greater struggle above himself. In both cases, it’s moving and heart-breaking.”

To these thoughts I’d add how disappointed I personally am that we won’t get the book that Snow was reportedly working on. I’m very curious to read what, in effect, will serve as a rebuttal to Scott McClellan’s “What Happened.” I wonder if we’ll ever get to read it.

The Law and Scott McClellan

June 25, 2008

I fall back on my law degree for a piece on whether the attorney-client privilege could apply to press secretaries. The impetus, not surprisingly, is McClellan’s tell all book. I write in Exhibit A, a new publication of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

“Amid the furor behind the specific allegations of President Bush’s ex-White House press secretary Scott McClellan, and the ensuing fallout with his former friends and with Bush, lies an important question: Should there be a legal limit on what a communications official or press secretary can say about his former boss?

With a couple of exceptions, the law currently places few limits on what an ex-employee can say about a former principal. An employee could be asked to sign a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement prior to employment. And those in the national security and intelligence realms face constraints on information that can be publicly discussed.

The McClellan episode places on the table the possibility of the imposition of an official standard on former aides.”