Opinion: The Sunday shows: Remembering Tony Snow


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The Sunday talk-show hosts paid tribute this morning to one of their own: Tony Snow, the first moderator of ‘Fox News Sunday,’ who died of colon cancer on Saturday.

Snow hosted the program -- the first news show on the Fox television network -- for seven years, from 1996 to 2003. He then turned his attention to ‘Weekend Live with Tony Snow’ on Fox News Channel and ‘Tony Snow Live’ on Fox News Radio before being named White House press secretary in April 2006.


He served President Bush until stepping down in September 2007, citing his desire to ensure that his family was financially secure. Most recently, he was a commentator on CNN.

On CBS’ ‘Face the Nation,’ former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie recalled Snow as ‘one of the good guys.’ ...

‘He was so good at what he did, whether it was as a commentator, as a newsman, as an editorial writer, as a press secretary or as a speechwriter, because he cared deeply about the issues,’ Gillespie said. ‘And he was always positive and upbeat and optimistic, and people resonated -- that resonated with people.’

Host Bob Schieffer praised Snow for his attitude toward the disease that caused his death: ‘He confronted it. He thought it was important to talk about it. ... I never once heard him say ‘Why me?’ Or ‘This is unfair.’ In fact, he said at one point that he thought it may have been the best thing that ever happened to him, because he came to know more about himself and he was able to get out and talk about it. ‘

On CNN, Gloria Borger of US News & World Report told Wolf Blitzer of ‘Late Edition’ that Snow ‘could disagree with you without being disagreeable. ... So smart, so engaging. And one of his talents was listening. That’s why he was such a good host of the Sunday show. He was such a good listener. And he was able to respond to you by just taking apart your argument. And he did it so well, but always with a generous nature.’

‘He had a real sense in the debate and the exchange,’ said CNN’s Jessica Yellin, who covered the White House during Snow’s tenure as press secretary. ‘He came in at a time when the press was enormously frustrated, feeling cut out and he really engaged everybody. He didn’t always give you the answer.

‘He was very good at changing the topic. But I’ll tell you one thing, the minute he came, people started to expand their vocabulary. They would walk out of that press briefing room asking, ‘What did that word mean?’ and they’d look it up. He raised everyone’s game.’


NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ of course, is recovering from the sudden death just weeks ago of its longtime host, Tim Russert, and moderator Tom Brokaw recalled Snow this way: ‘It’s been a tough season for all of us here in Washington. Tony Snow, an elegant man, loved and respected by so many, dead at the age of 53.

‘He was a graceful spokesman with a great taste for music. He had strong political views, but he had friends across the political spectrum in this city and beyond. He went out as he lived, with great conviction and with great dignity. And his family is in our thoughts and prayers this morning.’

On ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Snow was remembered in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment with a video of his final appearance before the often contentious White House press corps: ‘This job has been the most fun I’ve ever had, the most satisfying, fulfilling job,’ he told the assembled reporters. ‘I’m sorry I have to leave it. But I have got to say it’s been a real honor and pleasure working with everyone in this room.’

The show he helped to create, ‘Fox News Sunday,’ devoted the whole hour to its first host. The guests included Vice President Dick Cheney (details of his recollections are found at the Countdown to Crawford blog); radio hostRush Limbaugh; Bret Baier of Fox News, Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Mike Allen of Politico; and members of the ‘Fox News Sunday’ panel -- Juan Williams of NPR, Nina Easton of Fortune magazine, Brit Hume of Fox News and Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, along with Snow’s successor as host of the program, Chris Wallace.

Wallace said ‘Fox News Sunday’ was developed around a central vision, then showed a video of Snow explaining what that vision was: ‘Explain America to Washington and Washington to America -- that’s kind of what you do. It’s nice to humanize the figures who are right at the center of American politics, and at the same time, I think it’s important to be the advocate for the people listening.’

-- Leslie Hoffecker