No decision yet on whether to drop the briefings? If he's a believer, Tony Snow should be taking Bush's case to the world, and seeking opportunities to make that case. That means more briefings. Not cutting back but building on.Rosen's suggestion sounds good in the abstract, and there's something to be said from a public relations standpoint about answering critics and bringing a policy "to life." From a practical point of view, however, message management has a way of breaking down when you add so much to the mix. Rarely is there room on the national news agenda for more than a couple large stories each day, and dispersing the administration's focus each day seems to risk dispersing the message. If, the day after President Bush delivers a national address on immigration, you have eight different briefings with eight different briefers, that is a certain recipe for confusion. Then again, in a never-ending news cycle, it does perhaps make sense to have more of an on-going conversation with the media. The question is, how best to do that?
Snow is the head of an operation. That operation includes able assistants. There are extremely competent people across the government, outside of Snow's office, who in their areas of knowledge can also brief the press, answer critics, and bring policy to life.
I'd go with two-person teams: one briefer pulled from the government itself (someone in the line of duty for the United States) and the other a deputy press secretary working for Snow. Here's a schedule I drew up:
8:00 AM… Televised briefing in Arabic (For journalists from the Muslim world and the Arabic speaking press. You make the evening news in Cairo and Baghdad that night, and the newspapers the next day.)
9:00 AM… Press Gaggle (On the record, audio-cast, not televised, transcripts by noon; this event exists now.)
10:00 AM… Bloggers Briefing. (It's like a gaggle for stand alone and citizen journalists who self-publish. Same rules.)
11:00 AM… Q and A with the International Press (With a daily briefing open to all, more foreign news providers will send a person to Washington. Televised, in English.)
12:30 PM… The White House Daily Briefing (Televised, the way it is now. Mainly the American news media, and major foreign providers.)
3:00 PM… All-faith briefing. (For the religious press worldwide, same rules as the gaggle.)
4:00 PM… Today in the Global War on Terror. (On the record, audio-cast. Talks about progress and obstacles.)
5:00 PM… The Closer. (An update to all of the above with revisions, clarifications, corrections.)
Over at PressThink, Jay Rosen gauges the reaction to White House press secretary Tony Snow's televised briefing debut this week and has some interesting suggestions of his own. Noting that Snow has not yet decided whether to keep the televised briefings, Rosen writes:
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