Snow's first gaggle
Press Secretary Tony Snow's first off-camera briefing with reporters known as the "gaggle" did not go quite as smoothly as either he or the White House press corps might have hoped.
Snow decided to move the session to his sparsely decorated office where it had be done by previous secretaries before 9/11. Snow had indicated he wanted an informal, smaller setting to discuss the day's issues instead of the briefing room.
But first day kinks followed. The time was moved from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. No problem, except that Snow actually began with his office door closed somewhere before 9:20 with a few networks and the major wires not yet in the room.
The office was packed given this was Snow's first "gaggle." Reporters said they could not hear. Tony stood, trying better to project, but there was discomfort in the room with reporters jammed out in the hallway straining to listen.
Snow acknowledged his limitations in some areas, saying in response to a question about reports that Department of Justice lawyers did not have security clearance to review the NSA program: "You'll forgive me, but I'll do the talking points on this as the new kid on the block. I'm not fully briefed into everything." And then he said, "I hate to read from a sheet of paper." Helen Thomas followed with, "Justice Department lawyers cannot get security clearance to look into the NSA?" Snow responded, "Honestly, I cannot answer the question." Thomas asked, "Why?" "Because I don't know enough about it." Thomas followed, "Can you find out?, and Snow smiled, "Yes. I can find out."
Snow added: "For today, I am not going to handle international issues or currency issues. I do not wish to set off global tempests. I frankly just don't know enough on those. I will be happy to get back to you."
When asked what he would like to see changed, Snow said "Apparently the gaggle," which was met by a room full of laughter.
"I just want to do the job and it's really that simple," said Snow. "It's not that I want x, y or z improved. We want to get the information to you about the president's policies and what's going on in the administration and to make sure to the largest extent practicable the relations are smooth and cordial."
Snow summarized his first session with reporters by saying: "Well, we will move it back into the briefing room. I had this wonderful idea that this would be nice and collegial and relaxed, but obviously at this point it's just a mess. We go back to gaggling in the briefing room, and as numbers dwindle we may bring it back in here."
The mood on both sides remained pleasant as this new relationship gets underway.
Snow said he will do his first televised briefing Tuesday, May 16. "I haven't made any decisions," he said. "The briefings will continue as they have in the past. If there are any changes made, I will do that with full consultation with you guys (media). I am not going to wave a wand and change things. I have a feeling the televised briefings are not something that you can undo. I want to make this office as effective as possible... Rumors of the televised briefings demise are greatly exaggerated."
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Snow's Storm Washington Wire: "For his first morning briefing as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow decided to move the event back into the press secretarys cozy West Wing office. Thats where it began years ago as an informal get-together for the handful of r...
Posted on May 13, 2006 3:43:45 PM at:
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire