Tony Snow, former Fox News anchor, radio talk show host, and press secretary to George W. Bush, has succumbed to the cancer that he has been battling for many years. He was 53 years old.
I have written about Snow extensively over the years, with little positive to say. But this is not the time to dwell on that. Snow leaves behind a wife and three small children, and this is surely a tremendous loss for them, as it is for his many friends, colleagues, and fellow travelers on the Right.
But it is also a loss for our nation and for the pursuit of truth. Snow was the consummate insider. He was there as a speech writer for George Bush Sr. He was there at the birth of Fox News. He has had unique exposure to the twin powers of government and media – an interdisciplinary complex that I believe is far more dangerous than the military-industrial one that Eisenhower warned us about.
When it comes time to wax autobiographical, press secretaries and journalists are often the source of astonishing revelations about the inner workings of their fields. If Scott McClellan’s recent book purports to tell us “What Happened,” just imagine what Snow might have revealed if he had the opportunity to express himself without the constraints of his professional service. Whether he ever would have done so completely and candidly, we will never know. But he has been rather blunt on occasion in the past. ThinkProgress had compiled some commentary by Snow prior to his appointment at the White House that refers to the president as “an embarrassment,” “impotent,” and more.
In his career, Snow has exhibited a reliably rightist tone to his pronouncements in both the public and private sectors. As press secretary, he stubbornly affirmed the lies and misrepresentations of the White House. But he has also ventured off the plantation to deliver unexpected truths about the people and places he’s observed. We need much more of the latter. That’s the sort of forthright expression that can be truly beneficial politically, historically, and culturally.
With Snow’s untimely passing we can only wonder what might have happened; what might have been.