WASHINGTON - Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush’s press secretary, has died of colon cancer, Fox News reported Saturday. Snow was 53 years old.
Snow, who served as the first host of the television news program “Fox News Sunday” from 1996 to 2003, would later say that in the Bush administration he was enjoying “the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I’m ever going to have.”
Snow was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006 during a White House shake-up. Unlike McClellan, who came to define caution and bland delivery from the White House podium, Snow was never shy about playing to the cameras.
Popular figure at the podium
With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster’s good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook — if not always a command of the facts — he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.
He served just 17 months as press secretary, a tenure interrupted by his second bout with cancer. In 2005 doctors had removed his colon and he began six months of chemotherapy. In March 2007 a cancerous growth was removed from his abdominal area and he spent five weeks recuperating before returning to the White House.
He resigned as Bush’s chief spokesman six months later, in September 2007, citing not his health but a need to earn more than the $168,000 a year he was paid in the government post. In April, he joined CNN as a commentator.
In that year and a half at the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president’s policies. During daily briefings, he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.
Critics suggested that Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation. He was the first press secretary, by his own accounting, to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.
Although a star in conservative politics, as a commentator he had not always been on the president’s side. He once called Bush “something of an embarrassment” in conservative circles and criticized what he called Bush’s “lackluster” domestic policy.
From local journalism to the White House
Most of Snow’s career in journalism involved expressing his conservative views. After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1977 and studying economics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, he wrote editorials for The Greensboro (N.C.) Record, and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
He was the editorial page editor of The Newport News (Va.) Daily Press and deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News before moving to Washington in 1987 to become editorial page editor of The Washington Times.
Snow left journalism in 1991 to join the administration of President George H.W. Bush as director of speechwriting and deputy assistant to the president for media affairs. He then rejoined the news media to write nationally syndicated columns for The Detroit News and USA Today during much of the Clinton administration.
Robert Anthony Snow was born June 1, 1955, in Berea, Ky., and spent his childhood in the Cincinnati area. [B][SIZE="4"]Survivors include his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, whom he married in 1987, and three children.[/SIZE][/B]
Here's a snippet from the AP's reporting, via Douglass K. Daniel: [I]With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster’s good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook — [B]if not always a command of the facts[/B] — he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.[/I]
[QUOTE=intelligentjetsfan;2624483]just an awful story. 53 is far too young to die. Say a pray for his wife and kids. I keep telling my father to go for his colon screening test, but he is stubborn. :mad:[/QUOTE]
You gotta get him to go, and you go yourself.
I am terrified of this. Cancer runs rampant in my family, almost everyone has had some form at some point, with a few very early, untimely deaths. When I turn 30 I'm going to go for a colonoscopy every couple of years.
[QUOTE=sackdance;2624681]Here's a snippet from the AP's reporting, via Douglass K. Daniel: [I]With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster’s good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook — [B]if not always a command of the facts[/B] — he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.[/I]
All class from the AP, right? No bias there.[/QUOTE]
Bias? No... Inappropriate? Certainly... But, it's a fact that Snow stumbled many times under questioning by the WH press corps.
[QUOTE=Press_Coverage;2625085]Great. But you're still not answering my question. Why would the administration kill Tony Snow?[/QUOTE]
I have no idea. I'm not a conspiracy guy.
But the answer to my question was less than 24 hours before I heard someone raise the "Administration killed Snow to Silence Him before the Cancer could take him, as he was about to have a deathbed confession, ect, ect, ect" idea.
[QUOTE=Press_Coverage;2624758]Bias? No... Inappropriate? Certainly... But, it's a fact that Snow stumbled many times under questioning by the WH press corps.[/QUOTE]
Does this "fact" warrant mentioning in his obituary? Why don't more obituaries of public figures carry tidbits like that?
[I]"...as many Americans will miss Mr. Kronkite, whose cheesy mustache angered millions, he will be fondly remembered by..." [/I]
By Ed Henry
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A couple of months before he died so tragically, Tony Snow said on "The Colbert Report" that it was the only time he ever lost his cool at the White House podium: the day in March 2007 that he told me to, well, "Zip it!"
Snow was prodded into recalling the infamous (in a light-hearted way) moment by Stephen Colbert, who mocked the press for always hounding Tony when he was White House press secretary and asked, as only Colbert can ask, "You ever just want to jack-slap David Gregory to next week?"
Snow said, "The one guy I snapped at was Ed Henry of CNN."
"Oh I know Ed, he's a tool," Colbert cracked.
Snow laughed: "He was asking 58 questions. He didn't quite know what he wanted to get at so he was just --"
"Fishing expedition!" Colbert declared to laughter.
[B]It was classic Tony Snow. Rather than holding some silly grudge, he was ever the gentleman. Oh he would needle you and get his shot in alright, but he would do it in a humorous way that reinforced what will be his enduring legacy to me: Life is too short to get yourself all worked up about one tense exchange, one awkward moment or one misstep.
Get over it and be thankful for the time you do have.[/B]
He was probably only slightly exaggerating about how many questions I liked to ask him at briefings. I used to tease him back that I would not have had to ask 58 questions if he would just answer the first 57 questions I fired at him. Of course, he just laughed me off.
In this case, the tense exchange came on March 19, 2007, the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Snow was attacking House Democrats for a troop withdrawal plan he claimed was a "recipe for defeat" that would "provide a victory for the enemy" in Iraq. Watch White House staffers' fond send-off for Snow »
So I asked Snow to explain President Bush's "recipe for success" in Iraq.
Snow promptly reached into his toolbox for one of his favorite tactics, turning my own question around on me and demanding to know my recipe for success in Iraq. [B]I started insisting that I get to ask the questions and he has to provide the answers and we kept interrupting each other until Snow finally blurted, "Zip it!"[/B]
There was silence in the briefing room for a minute there because while we were used to his fast and furious zingers at what the press corps liked to call "The Tony Snow Show," this was a retort nobody had expected. [B]To his credit, Snow quickly apologized, telling me that it violated a rule he had about not taking the job personally.[/B] iReport.com: Share your memories of Snow
In fact, Snow showed his true colors a few months later when we had another battle in the briefing room and later in the day we ran into each other on the White House North Lawn. Snow's loyal assistant, a great young staffer named Ed Buckley, came upon the scene and jokingly suggested we were about to come to blows. "I'm going to have to buy you two boxing gloves one of these days," Buckley said.
"Nope," Snow immediately interjected, saying we both were just doing our jobs. "It's never personal."
You want to know what Tony Snow was all about? You've got your answer right there. One of the few guys in this tough town who understood how to draw that line.
[B]A point made very well by former President George Herbert Walker Bush,[/B] when I interviewed him Saturday in the hours after we all learned the awful news that Snow had passed away all too soon at the age of 53, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
[B]"He brought a certain civility to this very contentious job," the former president said.[/B]
Really sounds like a great man.
Tim Russert, Tony Snow, Bobby Murcer -- we lost three real, good human beings recently.