Tony Snow 'Chills' the Press Room

The White House press briefing used to be such a raucous affair, but former Fox News commentator Tony Snow has managed to lower the mudslinging to only a few handfuls a day.

Reports the New York Post:

President Bush and his team are looking more confident and relaxed since the former Fox News anchor stepped in to replace Scott McClellan as press secretary - the public face of the White House - two months ago.

"Tony has chilled the White House press corps - and that is some Snow job if you ask me," said Democrat Bill Clinton's star press secretary, Mike McCurry, one of the best White House spinmeisters in memory.

"They were cranky and rebellious," McCurry adds. "He's turned the thermometer down and is getting people back to the real business of reporting what matters."

It's a kind of double charm offensive - part aimed at cooling tensions with reporters who felt the White House had a bunker mentality, and part at getting Bush out in public to show him in a more personal way.

Because Tony Snow is a newsman, he knows what reporters are looking for. It especially paid off when Helen Thomas gave him an apple.

"The president is out there doing a lot more and they're taking the initiative. Tony knows what the press is looking for because he's from the press, so he brings new ideas," said Republican strategist John McLaughlin.

Snow has also tried to do more about getting substantive answers on hot issues fast.

When North Korea launched missiles July Fourth, Snow quickly put together a phone briefing with Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley - on the record. Normally on a holiday, the only spokesperson available is middle rank and says little.

But he's also emphatic about refusing to "go there" on sensitive issues like diplomatic talks. So far, he's even managed to charm Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House press corps, who claims Bush is the worst president ever. She brought him an apple.