July 12, 2008, - 11:25 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I’m very saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Tony Snow, from cancer, this morning. I’ve known Tony for more than two decades–since I was literally in junior high school, and he was an editorial writer for The Detroit News before it transformed into the Detroit Newsistan. At that time, the newspaper was actually worth reading, and under then-Editorial Page Editor Thomas Bray, Tony was a rising star as his deputy. Tony was not afraid to write very pro-Israel editorials in the face of rising Muslim and Arab whining in town.
My late dad introduced me to Tony’s writing in the paper. And I used to see Tony at Michigan Republican events, when I was a young teen, and, later, at political forums for high school students put on by my Congressman, at which he spoke. In those days, it wasn’t hip to be a young conservative and we conservatives stuck together, especially in the Detroit area. Tony was always kind to me and to everyone around him.
Always handsome with movie star good looks, Tony was equally handsome on the inside. He told me that he began his career, not as a journalist, but as a Christian missionary doing humanitarian work in Africa and helping poor people. And like that time in his life, no matter how famous he became, Tony Snow never took on airs or became snooty. Though he had many reasons to be, he was never conceited. Just the opposite. Tony Snow always remained a nice, down to earth, mensch of a guy. I know I was not the only one who can say that he always returned my phone calls and spent a lot of time talking with me about politics, whether he was still at The Detroit News or atop the world at FOX News Channel and the White House (he worked for both Dan Quayle and the Bushes).
Among our frequent topics of discussion was the downward spiral and utter decline of his former home, The Detroit News and its editorial page under then-editor Mark Silverman and editorial page editor and Islamopandering phony, Nolan Finley. Finley engineered the public firing of brilliant editorial page editor Thomas Bray (who hired Tony and gave him his first major newspaper job), because Finley wanted the job and wasn’t deserving of it.
So, it’s kind of ironic–not to mention, funny–to see Finley’s column in today’s Detroit paper bragging about how he visited Tony in Washington at the White House. That’s the way Tony was. He was nice to insufferables like Nolan Finley, even though, privately, Finley’s behavior disgusted him, as it did many others.
Unlike most of the on-air personalities at FOX News, Tony never became an egomaniac, not even a hint of it. And FOX News was not always kind to him. Even though he was a great host of “FOX News Sunday” and joined the network when no-one watched, helping to build the Sunday show into what it became, FOX News dumped him for liberal Chris Wallace for no apparent valid reason. And, for a good while, they restricted Tony in his ability to write a syndicated column, something they did not do with faux-conservative Bill O’Reilly and others at the network.
Sure, FOX News gave him a nationally syndicated radio show, but the show ran on many obscure stations in smaller markets, tape-delayed in most markets, late at night, so he got few live callers into his show. That frustrated him. At the end, despite the money, I don’t think it was a hard choice for him to leave the network for the Bush White House. Yes, there was a reason that toward the end of his life, when he returned to private life, he signed on with CNN and did not return to FOX News.
Tony was smart, a nice guy, and a pleasure to talk to. His style as a conservative commentator and columnist was effective, but softspoken, very civil, and understated. That’s why, in addition to his very congenial nature, Tony was respected by many of his liberal colleagues, who miss him as well. He was the epitome of a “hail fellow well met” and also a gentleman. He was a class act, and I feel for his young family.
I was glad to call Tony Snow, my friend. He will be missed greatly.
Tony Snow, Rest In Peace.