The Meaning of Tony Snow

There is something profoundly disturbing about the appointment of Fox News's Tony Snow as spokesman for the White House. It goes well beyond merely the laugh-out-loud quality of a President of the United States turning to a Guy-Smiley-ish fringe-right-wing talk show host to fix a pathetically inept White House. It even goes beyond the ridiculousness of the President appointing as his spokesman a guy who said he was an "embarrassment." It goes to what has become the new definition of "business as usual" in America's political system.

Here you have Fox News - a network that bludgeons viewers with Orwellian pledges of being "fair and balanced." The network employed Snow for 7 years as its purportedly "objective" host of "Fox News Sunday" - it's supposedly most "objective" show. And now, with the seamless appointment of Snow as the chief spokesman for America's right-wing government, the public is just supposed to accept it as mundane. Washington reporters barely bat an eye at the elimination of the boundary between media and government - god forbid they should look skeptically on the whole affair lest they may not be invited to the next White House Christmas party. In fact, many seem downright giddy that one of their friends on the D.C. cocktail party circuit got the job.

Meanwhile, Fox News continues to pledge a devotion to objectivity. Worse, instead of raising objections to one of its leading "objective" voices now becoming the President's spokesman, Fox is trumpeting the move on its website (even more ridiculous - it was actually trumpeting the early speculation of Snow's move before he took the job). As for Democrats - you remember them, they are supposed to be the opposition party - Fox News loudly tells us that "they say that aside from Tony being a good journalist, he's also a fair guy, who they think will be a welcome face in the room with the blue curtain."

This is "business as usual" in Washington. It is a place where Democratic and Republican politicians bloviate about supposedly wanting to clean up government - all while working feverishly to kill any serious reform legislation, all while they and their staffs happily sell off their government experience to the highest corporate bidder. It is a place where the few remaining hard-working journalists focusing on real issues in the nation's capital are shoved to the side in favor of the coiffed, ill-informed political pundit corps that sees nothing even vaguely problematic about the Soviet-state-run-media quality of trading in media badges for federal ID badges. It is a place where many major media organizations' leading voices are more interested in being mouthpieces for power, rather than challenging it. It is a place where the most blatant lies, myths, half-truths and hypocrisy is buried under a sea of government and media propaganda designed to make us believe nothing is wrong.

But no matter how many Tony Snows tell us everything is A.O.K. - either from behind an anchor's desk or from behind a White House podium - the public isn't stupid. We know what's going on. And at some point - whether that's November 2006, November 2008 or some other point - we're going to take our government back.