Remarks of Ann Compton
Presenting The Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award
To Tony Snow
Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet
October 16, 2007
Hey, Tony, great to see you –
Everyone in the press room this afternoon says Hi and
Congrats on this Freedom — From – Information Award they heard about.
There is a long tradition for White House press secretaries to make their briefings as Free
From Information as possible.
I should know – I’ve covered a lot of these guys. When I arrived to cover Gerald Ford
three months after he took office, he was already on his second press secretary. The first had
said: “There will be no Nixon pardon.” True story!
I don’t know where The Media Institute gets its information in bestowing the prestigious
Freedom of Speech Award, but Tony Snow was never White House press secretary. Look at the
There is a protocol for anyone who briefs from that podium.
When the press asks an impossible question, which usually runs three out of four ... the
press secretary responds: “Because of modalities, and of course national security considerations,
I am not able to help you with that.”
Tony would shrug and say: “I don’t know. Put it on my bupkis list.“
Press secretaries are political operatives, not thinkers.
They join the administration from the campaign, not from rock-stardom on television.
They read from tightly scripted talking points. Tony Snow came to each briefing a warrior,
ready to battle with an armory of words on behalf of the freedoms, principles, and beliefs of the
President he served.
It has long been thought by reporters that press secretaries don’t tell the truth.
No, there were never arms for hostages.
The president was never alone with that intern.
No, the First Lady is not running for higher office.
But at his farewell in the new White House briefing room, Tony Snow stood there and
opened his arms wide and declared: “I love these briefings.”
You got the feeling – he really meant it.