I gasped when I read this at the LA Times blog just moments ago:
After a long, candid and public battle with colon cancer, former White House press secretary and radio talk-show host Tony Snow died early this morning.
Immediate details were sketchy. But the news bulletin moved shortly after 7 a.m. Eastern time. Snow was 53.
He previously served as chief speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and as a frequent host on the Fox News Channel on Fox News Sunday, Weekend Live and The O’Reilly Factor.
He also guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh and had his own radio talk-show.
Last September after 17 months in the White House job Snow retired as President George W. Bush’s third press secretary, saying with his cancer he needed to earn more for his family than the job’s $168,000 salary. He was succeeded by Dana Perino.
Popular and inevitably cheerful, even during his draining chemotherapy treatments, Snow was well-liked among the White House press corps and with the smooth practice of a broadcaster seemed to genuinely enjoy the public sparring with media and explaining his boss’s positions.
I was on a couple of blogger conference calls with Mr. Snow when he was press secretary for President Bush, and he was so nice and kind. I was thrilled when, upon getting the chance to ask him a question, he remarked how much he liked my posts and that he wanted to email me to tell me so but didn’t know how to contact me. Naturally, I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Tony Snow knew who I was.
This is such a shame. Why does it seem like only the good guys die young and not the evil ones like Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jung Il?
Update: Of course, Fox News has a comprehensive piece on Tony Snow’s life and career in radio, television, and finally, the White House.
Update II: Shannen Coffin at The Corner writes about Tony’s days in the White House:
The day of Tony Snow’s hiring at the White House was electric. To call him a “rock star” was an understatement. He brought substance to every meeting he was in and every subject he covered. He was unwaveringly conservative at the principals table, but like all good servants of the government and the president, when a decision was made, he fell in line and became an advocate for the president, not for Tony Snow. It isn’t hard to conclude that he was one of the best presidential press secretaries of all time, if not the best.
Update III: Ed Morrissey has a personal memory on Tony:
This weekend will bring many personal tributes, but allow me just a minor example. At the 2004 Republican convention, when I had been blogging for less than a year, I was introduced to Tony almost accidentally. I was shocked when he knew my blog, and maybe even more shocked at how he treated me — as a colleague, an equal in an arena where most of us bloggers felt like Cindarella among ten thousand stepsisters.
House Republican Leader John Boehner released a touching and respectful statement:
Churchill said, ‘I like a man who grins when he fights’ and that was Tony Snow. For 35 years, as a writer, broadcaster, and spokesman, he fought fiercely for what he believed in, and he did it with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. His loss is a loss for our country. His newspaper columns and television and radio shows illuminated issues with grace and humor and solid insight. He served twice in government, distinguishing himself as a speechwriter in President George H.W. Bush’s White House and as a spokesman for the current President. Despite everything Tony did and achieved in life, he never forgot his hometown roots or those who grew up with him. He was a proud son of Cincinnati, and I will miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jill, and their three children.
Update IV: From Outside the Beltway:
His death, while hardly shocking given his health problems, is sad. Like so many media personalities, I had the sense that I “knew” Tony Snow after spending so many hours with him in my living room. He seemed like a decent guy and, certainly, 53 is far to young to die.
Update V: Fox News’ Brit Hume did a video montage of Tony’s career first in broadcasting and then to the White House:
Hat tip: Ed Morrissey