Tony Snow Dies of Cancer

Tony Snow has died. He was only 53. CNN Breaking:

Former White House press secretary Tony Snow has died at the age of 53 after a second battle with cancer. Snow, who had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a recurrence of the disease, left his White House job September. 14, 2007, and joined CNN as a conservative commentator.

More from AP:

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. 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.

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.

Tony Snow Tributes:

  • Scott Johnson, Power Line: “Tony was one of the smartest, wittiest, and most humane men in our public life.”
  • John Cole, Balloon Juice: “Fifty-three is just way too damned young, especially for a man with a family. Terrible. And, I should note, despite what you thought of Snow, he was the only competent Press Secretary of this administration.”
  • Kim Priestap, Wizbang: “Why does it seem like only the good guys die young and not the evil ones like Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and Kim Jung Il?”
  • Bruce McQuain, Q and O: “Tony was a gentleman who fielded every question and answered it without all the usual sidestepping spokesman do.
  • Matt Burden, Black Five: “A class act with sharp wit, keen intellect, and a huge heart – we’ll miss him greatly.”
  • Joe Gandelman, Moderate Voice: “Snow was a public figure who truly seemed to have fun at his job and did it well. He was the quintessential broadcasting pro who put a professional TV face on the White House point of view.”
  • Shannen Coffin, The Corner: “To call him a ‘rock star’ was an understatement. He brought substance to every meeting he was in and every subject he covered. . . . But what struck me most about him was his ceaseless optimism. Even when he was leaving his post, when his prognosis could not have been good, he was always in good cheer with his colleagues.”
  • Michelle Malkin: “He was a true mensch, multi-talented—and one of the kindest people I had the honor to meet in the news business.”
  • Ed Morrissey, Hot Air: “We lost a good man and a class act.”
  • Warner Todd Huston, Stop the ACLU: “[I]t will be a tad colder and less friendly as well as a bit less optimistic now that this wonderful fellow has passed on to his just rewards.”
  • Faiz Shakir, Think Progress, links this Fox News tribute to their former colleague:

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. FireWolf says:

    Here is one guy that was a great reporter and did a fine job as press secretary at the White House. I would have loved to have read his “after the White House” tell all. 🙂

    Rest in Peace Tony!

  2. Patrick T McGuire says:

    I listened to him daily during his morning radio program before he became the press secretary. He was the one bright spot in my mornings.

    I will miss him but I know that God is now having some some light-hearted banter with someone who always saw the positive in life.

  3. RHM says:

    Are his critics bashing his memory yet? If not, they won’t wait very long before they show us how classy they are.


  4. just me says:

    While I agree it isn’t shocking, it is still really sad-and he was so young.

  5. Floyd says:

    A very rare occurrence,a decent man in the Media.
    He will be missed.

  6. He will be missed. One of the good guys, even if I didn’t like all his spin all the time. Interestingly, HuffPo turned off comments on the post talking about his death.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Very sad for such a talented guy to pass so young…

  8. Steven Chang says:

    Condolence… He was a great man.