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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tony Snow Dies

Tony Snow
, former White House Press Secretary and Conservative Radio and FOX News host has died at the age of 53
. NY Times via Chicago Tribune:

    Tony Snow, the conservative columnist and television commentator who relished sparring with reporters during a 17-month stint as President George W. Bush's press secretary, died on Saturday, the White House said. He was 53.

    The cause was colon cancer. A recurrence of the disease had interrupted his tenure, and he was quite public about his battle, saying he wanted to offer hope to other cancer patients. His message to them, he once said, was: "Don't think about dying. Think about living."

    Dana Perino, who succeeded Snow as press secretary, said Snow's family informed her of the death early Saturday morning. Bush received the news from his chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten.

    "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day," Bush said in a statement. "He brought wit, grace and a great love of country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor."


    Before becoming the chief spokesman for the president, Snow was a commentator for Fox News. He was also host of the network's Sunday public affairs program "Fox News Sunday." Before joining Fox, Snow was a syndicated columnist for The Detroit News and USA Today.

    At the White House, he turned the daily press briefing into something of a one-man show, challenging reporters' questions and delivering hard-hitting answers, even when he was occasionally short on the facts. More than once, Snow was forced to apologize, as he did shortly after taking the job, when he erroneously said that Bush viewed embryonic stem-cell research as murder.

    "He's velvet glove and iron fist," Jim Axelrod, the CBS White House correspondent, once said in describing Snow.

    Coming into the job, Snow had credibility with the news media because, as a commentator, he had often been critical of Bush. But the transition from pundit to mouthpiece proved a bit complicated for him, as he struggled to rein himself in.

    "Tony Snow broke the mold -- he was a completely different kind of press secretary," said Ann Compton of ABC News, who has covered six presidents. "For one thing, he would give you his own opinion and you'd have to say, 'Tony, wait, I asked what the president thought.'"

    His snappy sound bites made Snow an instant hit among Republicans -- and he was not shy about breaking barriers. "It's like Mick Jagger at a rock concert," Karl Rove, the president's former political strategist, once said in describing him.


    He had heard that Helen Thomas, the 87-year-old veteran White House correspondent with whom he had had some of his most pointed exchanges, was ill. "If in touch, would you please pass on my love," Snow wrote.


    He is survived by his wife, Jill, and their three children, Kendall, Robbie and Kristi.

His good natured trading of barbs with Helen Thomas were taken as such, with one of the more memorable ones with Snow thanking her for offering "the Hezbollah view" of American policy.

Even Liberal Lunatic Keith Olberwiener said the following about Snow:

    "Tony Snow was an optimistic, funny, and courageous man who could set aside his politics and inspire others to do the same. It might surprise many at all political points, but while we could not have disagreed more on policy, we were in frequent contact, even during his days as Press Secretary, even as I was criticizing his work and he was — in his own words — yelling at the screen as he watched. It was with great sadness that I heard of his death today, and with sincerity I extend my condolences and my staff’s to his family. In the best of us, there is a difference between the message and the messenger, and Tony Snow epitomized that."

I had a feeling his days had to be numbered when he left the White House. Snow exuded fairness and balance. He nailed Democrats and Republicans equally, treating both the same in interviews, without ever appearing mean-spirited, biased or angry. No one got a free ride being interviewed by Tony, no one.

He applied the same standard to everyone, perhaps holding Conservatives and Republicans to a higher standard than Democrats so as not to appear biased or partisan. He was an original. His kind will be missed in today's MSM. I'm guessing the late Tim Russert is with good company right now.

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