Robert Anthony "Tony" Snow (June 1, 1955 – July 12, 2008) was a White House Press Secretary, the third under President George W. Bush. Snow also worked for President George H. W. Bush as chief speechwriter and Deputy Assistant of Media Affairs. Snow served as White House Press Secretary from May 2006 until his resignation effective September 2007.
Between his two White House stints, Snow was a broadcaster and newspaper columnist. After years of regular guest-hosting for The Rush Limbaugh Show and providing news commentary for National Public Radio, he launched his own talk radio program, The Tony Snow Show, which went on to become nationally syndicated. He was also a regular personality on Fox News Channel since 1996, hosting Fox News Sunday, Weekend Live, and often substituting as host of The O’Reilly Factor. In April of 2008, shortly before his death, Snow joined CNN as a commentator.
Death of Tony Snow
On the early morning of July 12, 2008, Tony Snow died at Georgetown University Hospital as a result of colon cancer that had spread to his liver
Tony Snow was 53 years old at the time of his death
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Snow was an avid musician. He played the trombone, flute, piccolo, accordion, saxophone, and guitar, and belonged to a cover band, Beats Workin’, which featured fellow Washington-area professionals. Beats Workin’ played publicly with a number of rock bands, including Snow’s friends Skunk Baxter (The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. He was featured on an episode of VH1 Classic’s Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp.
Snow began his newspaper career in 1979 in newspapers as an editorial writer for The Greensboro Record in North Carolina, next working as an editorial writer at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia (1981–82), editorial page editor of The Daily Press in Newport News (1982–84), deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News (1984–87) and editorial page editor of The Washington Times (1987–91). Also, The Detroit News published his commentary from 1993 to 2000, and he was a Counterpoint Columnist for USA Today from 1994 to 2000.
Snow also wrote a syndicated column for Creators Syndicate between 1993 and 2000. As a nationally syndicated columnist, his commentaries appeared in more than 200 newspapers nationwide. Snow won numerous awards during his print career, including citations from the Virginia Press Association, the Detroit Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, The Associated Press and Gannett.
He appeared on radio and television programs worldwide including The McLaughlin Group, The MacNeil–Lehrer NewsHour, Face the Nation, Crossfire, and Good Morning America. Until 1994, Snow was the writer, correspondent and host of a PBS news special, The New Militant Center.
In 1991, Snow took a sabbatical from journalism to work in the White House for President George H. W. Bush, first as chief speechwriter (Deputy Assistant to the President for Communications and Director of Speechwriting) and later as Deputy Assistant to the President for Media Affairs (1992–1993).
From 1996 to 2003, he served as the first host of FOX News Sunday, a Sunday morning interview and roundtable program produced by Fox News, airing on affiliates of the Fox Broadcasting Company and later in the day on Fox News Channel.
Snow served as the primary guest host of Rush Limbaugh’s program from the mid-1990s on. He was also a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. Snow’s own Tony Snow Show on Fox News Radio premiered in late 2003. It ended when he became White House Press Secretary in April 2006.
Return to the White House
In April 2006, Snow was named White House Press Secretary to replace Scott McClellan in the George W. Bush administration. His appointment to the position was formally announced on April 26, 2006. The position of White House Press Secretary has historically been filled by individuals from news media backgrounds.
His selection as press secretary was initially criticized because of some of his past comments about Bush. Bush acknowledged Snow’s prior criticisms during the announcement of his appointment, stating that Snow was "not afraid to express his own opinions". Snow considered having input into the administration’s policy debates a requirement for him to take the position.
Snow began his new press secretary duties on May 8, 2006.
On July 3, 2007, Snow had a combative press conference with White House reporters about the President’s decision to commute a prison term for top Vice-Presidential aide Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sentenced to 30 months in prison for obstruction of justice; Bush had once vowed to fire any White House staffer convicted in the case. When Snow denied Libby’s commutation was motivated by party politics, one reporter accused Snow of "insulting their intelligence."
In his final press briefing on September 13, 2007, Snow commented that he would miss the duties of the position. "I love these briefings," he said.
Snow, having suffered for years from ulcerative colitis, was at an increased risk for colon cancer. On February 2005, this risk proved real, as he developed cancer in his colon. After having his colon removed, he returned to work in April 2005. On March 23, 2007, Snow announced that he would be undergoing surgery the following Monday to remove and investigate an abdominal growth. On March 27, the White House announced that the growth was cancerous and had metastasized. In Snow’s absence, the press briefings began to be covered by Deputy Dana Perino. On April 21, Snow made an appearance at the annual White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner, where he introduced a joking tape by David Letterman. Snow returned to work on April 30, 2007. On May 12, Snow delivered the Commencement Address for the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., where he was presented with a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. On September 19, it was reported in the AP that a cancerous growth was found inside his brain. Though Snow has been reluctant to describe himself as terminally ill, on September 27, he admitted to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show that he will have cancer for the rest of his life, "unless and until they find a cure." He then announced on October 4 on the Late Show With David Letterman that his cancer was in remission.
On April 23, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Snow was admitted to a Spokane hospital with an undisclosed illness. On April 22, he canceled appearances scheduled at Eastern Washington University. He was also expected to appear that day on CNN to analyze the Pennsylvania primary which occurred that day.
On May 28, 2008, he was forced to cancel speaking appearance at Ohio’s Ashland University because of an unspecified illness and was told by his doctors he couldn’t travel.