Tony Talks, But for Big Money

Former White House press secretary's speaking fees break records.

By: Garrett M. Graff

When Tony Snow appeared on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno joked that he may be “the poorest Republican in history” for citing financial reasons as his reason for stepping down as White House press secretary.

Snow is having the last laugh.

Sources say that Snow is getting $100,000 a speech on the lecture circuit, a surprising amount for someone defending an unpopular president. It’s also a big fee for someone who used to recite the same talking points in the White House briefing room every day—for free.

Snow’s speaking fees easily break all records set by his predecessors at the podium. Speakers’ agents say Marlin Fitzwater was bringing in about $5,000 a speech when he left the George H.W. Bush administration in the early 1990s but climbed to about $15,000 a speech. Mike McCurry, spokesman in the Clinton White House, is still pulling in about $10,000 to $15,000 a speech. After their days at the current Bush White House podium, Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan are each in the $15,000-to-$25,000 range.

Snow is represented by the high-powered Washington Speakers Bureau because, unlike the others, he was a radio-and-TV star before becoming press secretary in 2006. A plus: Snow’s battle with cancer helps him connect even more with audiences.


This article originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Washingtonian magazine.