Former Presidential Spokesman Tony Snow died early this morning after a long bout with cancer. He was 53.
I knew Tony from the earliest days of the Clinton Administration when he was a Washington Times columnist. Tony was following the prosecution of dismissed White House travel office head Billy Ray Dale. My law partner, Steve Tabackman, was defending Billy Ray so Tony was calling often to get insights on the case as it went on. He was always more interested in the facts than anything else. A very smart and careful journalist, he often spoke to us to check out tips he’d gotten from the ax-grinders in the White House.
In later years, when I began sub-hosting for Ollie North’s radio show – which broadcast from the Fox News studios in Washington – I often saw Tony. He always managed a "hey, Jed" and a smile, even when he was obviously rushed and under deadline pressures. On the rare occasion that we actually worked together, I knew him as a real professional, someone who could produce quality on time and every time. And he did so without the snarls and growls that Washington journalists emit as signs of ego.
Tony was White House press secretary when I became HUMAN EVENTS editor. He’d always get back to us – no matter how late, no matter the day – on whatever question we had. I can anticipate what our chief political correspondent John Gizzi will write later by saying Tony was – if not universally loved among the White House press corps – as close as any human can come to being so.
We’ll all miss Tony. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jill, and his children, Robbie, Kendell and Christie.
ADDENDUM: In my haste to write this morning, I forgot one very important thing: no matter the circumstance, Tony always came through. It was only a few short weeks ago that Tim Russert died. I asked John Gizzi to write an obit as soon as he could and – as I walked back to my office, I turned and dashed back to John’s. I said, "Try to reach Tony."
I didn’t know how ill Tony was, but I knew if John could reach him, he’d have a good comment about the Meet the Press anchor. When John’s story reached my desk an hour or so later, there it was: Tony had come through, just as he always did. As sick as he must have been, he managed to answer a friend’s call. That was Tony: selfless, and utterly faithful.