Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Tony Snow dies of cancer; ex-Bush press secretary was 53

After a long, candid and public battle with colon cancer, former White House press secretary and television-radio host Tony Snow died early this morning.Former White House press secretary, speechwriter and broadcaster Tony Snow dies of cancer

Snow died about 2 a.m. EDT in Georgetown University Hospital. He was 53 and is survived by his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, and their three children: Kendall, Robbie and Kristi.

A video segment about his death is available by clicking the Read more line below.

Snow previously served as chief speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and as a frequent host on Fox News Channel's "Fox News Sunday," "Weekend Live" and "The O'Reilly Factor."

He also guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh and had his own radio talk show.

In September, after 17 months in the White House job, Snow retired as President George W. Bush's third press secretary, typically not blaming his disease but 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.

Snow said he left the press secretary job with regret, calling it "the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I'm ever going to have."

In an early morning statement issued from his weekend retreat at Camp David, Md., Bush said he and Laura were "deeply saddened."

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," the president said. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace and a great love of country to his work."

In a telephone interview this morning with the Fox News Channel, former George H.W. Bush praised his top speechwriter and said: "He wrote it the way he thought I'd want to say it. I'm not Glowing Rhetorical Guy, so he'd have to downgrade some of his own wonderful way with words." Barbara Bush then got on the phone, but choked up.

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 the media and explaining his boss' positions.

Karl Rove, Bush's counselor and chief political strategist, was traveling in the Crimea this morning when contacted by cellphone. "Oh, no!" he said. Having direct access to the president like Rove had was a key demand of Snow's before accepting the job on April 26, 2006, anTony Snow and Pres. Bush at the head table of the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington April 23, 2007d beginning work on May 6.

He succeeded Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan in that position.

Snow had gone through remission, but the cancer returned and forced another operation. Despite the pain and nausea, he remained optimistic and talked openly on several programs about the experience as an aid and encouragement to other patients.

"I'm a very lucky guy," he would say frequently.

Although he had been ill recently, friends did not know the end was near. So the news was particularly stunning to those who knew the tall fellow with the large grin.

Three months ago, CNN announced that Snow would join that network as a conservative commentator. The Kentucky native graduated from Davidson College in 1977.

Robert Anthony Snow was born June 1, 1955, in Berea. His father, Jim, was a social studies teacher and assistant principal in the Cincinnati suburbs, and Snow's mother worked as a nurse in the inner city. She too died of colon cancer, when Tony was 17.

Snow was also a newspaper veteran, having written for a variety of smaller dailies before becoming deputy editorial page editor at the Detroit News and then editorial page editor of the Washington Times.

He also wrote a column for Creators Syndicate from 1993 to 2000 that appeared in more than 200 newspapers across the country.

In April the Associated Press reported that Snow was admitted to a hospital in Spokane, Wash., with an undisclosed illness and his speaking engagements were canceled. A month later, while in Ohio, he was again admitted to a hospital and was told that he could not travel for some time. Still, he was known to call friends and inquire after their health.

"Fox News Sunday" will have a special tribute to its initial host Sunday with Snow's friend Brit Hume as substitute host for Chris Wallace.

"I'll miss it," Snow told reporters at his final White House briefing on Sept. 13. "I love these briefings." And it sounded to those professional skeptics as if he really meant it.

(UPDATE: A memorial service for Snow is scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern Thursday at Catholic University’s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credits: The White House

Comments () | Archives (162)

The comments to this entry are closed.

You picked a nice picture for your tribute.

Hopefully heaven is a better place for Mr. Snow than hell with W.

I am deeply saddened. Tony was a favorite of mine..... a truly nice guy who will be missed greatly

I hope the rest of these criminals die too. Good riddance to a person who contributed to making this world a worse place.

Its unfortunate he won't be able to see the damage he helped inflict on this country and the world. I wonder how he likes hell.

Tony Snow was an all-around class act. His intellect was obvious yet accessible to a wide audience of thinking people. He was a populist version of the great William F. Buckley. With the passing of both men, America suffers a deficit of decency which will be difficult to fill. Hopefully Tony's early passing at only 53 will spark most of his fans in the nation to seek early detection of the malady which took him. Bless him. Our hearts go out to his family. Their husband and dad raised the bar of civility without compromise, a set of qualities so needed today.

Sad news, politics aside.

Tony Snow...God take you and hold you close. To have a person of faith not ashamed to say so in the media and government was a great thing. Our prayers to his family...his wife and his children. His children certainly can be proud of the way Tony lived his life in faith and love.

Was anyone more perfectly named for their job? Tony's Snow-jobs about Bushian idiocy only helped sink the nation into the hole where we are now.

He was a Good Man!

Tony SNow was a gracious and kind gentleman. He will be deeply missed....

Cheerful and upbeat - obviously not a liberal.

Good riddance , we still have a white house full of liars
and American soldiers being slaughtered. if Cheney strokes
then change will begin , as for Bush he is just to stupid
to die and when he dies bury him at home in IRAQ.

Sad News....too young, way too young to leave a family behind. My best wishes go to his family.

Great man! We'll miss you for ever !!!

This outrage indicates why new legislation should be put in place to require a regular colonoscopy for Snow's cohorts in propaganda. (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck etc) Only a careful inspection of their alimentary tracts will prevent their insolent, hatefilled cancer from developing and spreading.

Great man! We'll miss you for ever !!!

I saw him appear on the Daily Show once or twice and even outside of the political pundits, he really seemed to be a pretty nice guy. Great sympathies for his widowed family for a man who knew how to speak well.

Another good man gone to the great beyond. Heaven just got a little brighter and the world has dimmed a bit.

May God bless Tony Snow's family during this sad time.
May they also feel peace and comfort knowing their dad and husband was a great American. He exemplified wit, class and grace. This patriot will be greatly missed!

Tony Snow lived his life with integrity and passion. His battle with cancer was public but he always seemed optimistic and diginfied. Tony, you are in a much better place now.

We just lost one of the very rare and few journalists out there that spoke and reported truthfully. He as a wonderful guy that made no pretenses and seemed to speak honestly and from the heart. He loved his family, and played in a rock band after work. How cool is that?

The liberals will be pleased that there is one less voice out there calling them on their incessant line of BS.

He was a wonderful man and a joy to watch. He will be greatly missed.

Well, this is ONE opinion:

In an early morning statement issued from his weekend retreat at Camp David, President Bush said he and Laura were "deeply saddened."

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," the president said. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work."

Here is another, 26 June 2006 > Snow @ the podium:

President Bush today called the New York Times story revealing the administration’s monitoring of bank records “disgraceful,” and said the decision to publish details of the program “does great harm to the United States of America.”

Press Secretary Tony Snow followed up with another attack at today’s press briefing:

" [T]he New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live, and whether in fact the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."

Six months before the 2006 fall elections, while the violence/civil war was armaping up in Iraq and re-Thug congressmen (including Mark ['don't tell your parents'] Foley were developing issues there was Snow, cranking up the FEAR campaign to help cover the 4th amendment violations and 'scare' folks into voting for re-Thugs AGAIN to hold the Senate and House.

This Faux News imbed willingly aided and abetted the rape of the Constitution, helped obstruct justice in the Plame investigation, and now, is 'gone'.

Nice legacy...

SO not 'Russert-like'.

My wife, too, passed away with Colon cancer so I am deeply sympathetic for Tony's wife and three children. I have three children as well. I admired Tony for the way he battled cancer with faith and optimism. Today I will be praying for this good man's wife and family. I always appreciated Tony's brilliance.

Kevin Owen

Regardless of my political beliefs, it is sad to see a Father of three taken while still so young. My prayers are with his family.

This is a real shame. Mr Snow had so much articulation and grace in the way he presented himself. Our country lost a patriot.

I try very hard to get to know Obama, I cannot trust the empty words that come out of his mouth,I see him as phoney and opportunis; he is very transparent and lacks esperience in soving problems. He has so many regrets on so many issues that put me in a very questionable positions .
What kind of judgement and reasoning to use his kids to promote himself as a great father???????

That's very sad. I heard him on the radio a while ago, and he seemed like a very personable man.

Though I obviously did not like Mr. Snow's politics, I did respect him. He died way before his time. My thoughts and sympathy are with his family. May he rest in peace.

You will be missed Tony! May God bless your family.

There is special place in hell for Mr. Snow. As a co-conspirator of the Bush administration, I have no special sympathy for him. I only wish his suffering were more prolonged.

I did not agree with him most of the time but he was a very nice guy

When I heard Tony Snow had died I felt very bad. As much as he sold his soul to shill and lie for the country's worst president, I always liked Snow, his cheerful disposition and respected his bravery in his fight with cancer. My first thought was, How come it couldn't have happened to someone really evil like Dick Cheney? It's ironic that all the TV news reports about Snow's passing were immediately followed by reports of Cheney's annual physical and heart test. The media must have had the same thoughts.

One of the truly good people on this earth.

God Bless and Rest In Peace

I guess now we know that lying causes cancer.

The question begs to be asked, is it possible to die when you don't have a soul.

The one likeable guy on Fix news. Bummer...

After fifty years of breakthroughs in cancer research, this is where we are.

Tony Snow was a lying right wing propagandist on radio, Fox and in print well before he got to the White House, as official Press Liar for the Bush administration. He earned his reactionary stripes early by helping gin up the Lewinski malarki in '97-98 via Lucianne Goldberg, the horrible right wing screed writer. I'm terribly sorry for Snow's young family, of course, and worst enemies should not be wished his fate. But karma is a bitch, is it not?

I hope he suffered at the end. Just a terrible person.

I am sad to see another human being die, however, he was a liar like the rest of the Administration.

I'm a democrat and can honestly say that I will miss Tony. Great writer and speaker, a combination you normally do not find together. Add to that his quick wit and humor, and his love of life and his family. He is a man that stands on his own and will be missed.

It's sad to see what some people write about someone who has just died. They don't have the courage to write their true name so others can see what idiots they are. Wait until they die and their loved ones have to grieve.

Why do so many people put so much emphasis on being a liberal or a conservative? It will make no difference when you are in hell or heaven.

Now you know why people don't like liberals... just full of hate.

Have a little compassion, people! While I disagreed with his politics and his work as White House press secretary, it's cruel and callous to use someone's death by cancer (and his family's loss) as an opportunity to make an easy jab at the administration. Those who leave such comments are putting themselves on a level with schoolyard bullies.

I hope Snow's passing was as peaceful and easy as possible. I wish his family well as they grapple with their loss.

I am truly saddened by many of the comments on this page. While I did not admire Tony Snow's political views, I was always impressed by his intellect, style and quick wit. He gave many reporters a run for their money, and his appearances on the Daily Show were always a treat. My thoughts are with his family.

Snow was a happy warrior against the cancer that took his life, and as a public persona no doubt lifted the spirits of those directly or tangentially affected by his disease.

Mr. Malcolm should not extend to Snow the respect he deserves for this particular grace to the balance sheet of his professional life. He practiced a cynical brand of non-journalism in unflagging support of a terrible president, a debauched administration, and a toxic brew of domestic and international policy prescriptions that is gravely sickening this nation.

These two paragraphs by Malcolm dance around the catastrophes and cynicism Snow fueled as press secretary --

"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.

"Karl Rove, Bush's counselor and chief political strategist, was traveling in the Crimea this morning when contacted by cellphone. 'Oh, no!' he said. Having direct access to the president like Rove was a key demand of Snow's before accepting the job on April 26, 2006 and beginning work on May 6."

In the first paragraph, it goes unstated that Snow stonewalled the press corps on any number of vital issues, in service of the most secretive administration in modern times. "Sparring" does not properly characterize this tension. "Unconstitutional obstruction" comes closer.

In the second paragraph, why might Tony Snow have demanded direct access to the president as a pre-condition for taking the press secretary job? Could it be that his immediate predecessor, Scott McClellan, was hung out to dry by Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and the Office of the Vice President, and put in deep legal and professional jeopardy? Umm... why, yes, that seems quite plausible.

So, in your appreciation, Mr. Malcolm, perhaps you could try a little harder to separate Mr. Snow's dignity at the end from his fundamentally mean and wrongheaded professional comportment. Your appreciation of his life is disserved by anything other than a plain summary of his public impacts.

I love Tony so much, am crying my eyes out. One of the most decent, good people I've ever encountered in this life. God bless your soul, Tony, may you Rest in Peace. I will say Mass for you tomorrow. May the Lord be with your loving family at this sorrowful time.

Thank you G*d.
Only 99 more of them to go.

1 2 3 4 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: