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EIB WEB PAGE DISGRONIFIER

What We Learned from Tony Snow

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Tony Snow passed away on Friday night, Saturday morning. I got some phone calls, e-mails, actually, over the weekend from Fox. They did four Fox shows, two Saturday and two Sunday, as they did their very tastefully done tribute over the weekend to Tony Snow. It's just a shame, folks, but there's so much to learn from this man. Phil Gramm says we're a nation of whiners, and I think about a certain group of people he's right. Tony Snow was not a whiner. Regardless of his medical condition, he was the epitome of optimism. I first met Tony Snow in 1989, the second year of this program. It was based out of New York at that time, and Bob Beckel was hosting in Washington on the local Fox affiliate there, a show called Off the Record. It was an attempt, everybody was attempting to replicate, duplicate, the McLaughlin Group back then, and this was Channel 5 in Washington's Fox show effort to do that. And the guest list for the show that I attended was Tony, it was the first time I had met him, Beckel, Jane Mayer, who is now at The New Yorker, I think, or somewhere around there, P.J. O'Rourke, and me. It was quite a stellar lineup, but I had never met Tony.

I see this guy walk in, I knew his name, he was writing for the Washington Times at the time. And I see this guy walk in, the most perfect head of hair I have ever seen on anybody, except maybe for Glen Campbell back in his heyday. Glen Campbell's hair right now not all that good, but back when he had his TV show it was enviable. And Tony was so into this. He was earnest and he was serious about it, and he was energetic, and I got to know him as somebody who was passionate, which is the key to having a guest host here on this network. You have to have passion, passion is what's magnetic, passion is what makes people want to listen, what compels them to stay tuned, and he had all of that. He was omnivorously informed, and he was able to express it, and he guest-hosted here for a while and dibble-dabbled in other elements of media, and then my buddy Roger Ailes stole him. Ailes came along and offered him the host slot on Fox News Sunday. Brit Hume had a great line yesterday, that Tony Snow was Fox News before there was a Fox News. He was the face of Fox News before there was a Fox News. That's true because the Fox News Sunday program debuted long before the Fox News Channel did, and Tony just took off.

I'll never forget, there were many moments at his White House briefings, but one of the things I really, really love -- and he was so humble, he never, never became bigger than the institution where he worked no matter what it was, he just had a 100% self-confident love of self. He knew who he was. He loved who he was. He didn't want to be anybody else, and he was very comfortable in his own skin whatever job he took on, whatever responsibility he had, and I'll remember this press conference. It was a particularly contentious moment, and Tony said to the assembled reporters, "Can we all just step back for a minute." I'm paraphrasing this. "Can we all just step back for a minute and take a moment to realize how fortunate we are? Look at where we come to work. We get to come to work in the White House." Now, I'm guessing that many of the assembled reporters don't look at the White House as anything super special. It's their job, like the doughnut maker having to go to the bakery every morning. But to him it was a dream. I think he had some policy input on various things, but look at the transformation. As Vice President Cheney said yesterday, Tony had reached the pinnacle in media, as he had desired to do, and he crossed over and done so in government. He'd done so as a member of the administration.

But that comment about aren't we all lucky, look where we get to come to work every day, that's something that a lot of people feel about their job for a couple weeks, then the job becomes a job, and sometimes you don't want to go there. He was constantly in awe of it. He was in awe of his opportunity and his responsibility. But yesterday, Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday asked me how big a player Tony Snow was in the conservative movement, and I said, "Well, it's kind of hard to quantify because he was huge, and there's many examples of it, but this is the best one I can think of," and we played the audio from this. Again, it was in the White House press briefing and we played the audio here on this program. What Tony Snow did was groundbreaking in terms of press secretaries in that often, he would challenge the premise or the premises of many of the questions that were forthcoming from the Drive-Bys in the White House briefing room. That really had not happened, especially the milquetoast guy that preceded him, was just lost in there, was of no help whatsoever. Tony came along and the AP, the AP had one of the snarkiest references over the weekend. Jennifer Loven contributed to it, and Douglas K. Daniel wrote it. I mentioned it all weekend on Fox. They made some reference -- now, this is an obituary, and they make reference to Tony's television anchorman good looks, his relentless good cheer, as though there's something wrong with that, and then they said, "If not always certain of the facts," or some such thing. They insulted him. He got things wrong a lot, but it didn't matter because he looked good, and there was just no excuse for this. It was a classless, bottom-of-the-barrel remark that was not even accurate. Even had it been accurate, there's a time and place to do that, but not on the day that Tony Snow passed away.

Nobody disliked him in there. They all got along. They resented him because he challenged the premise of many of their questions, and that caused those of us who saw this to stand up and cheer because the White House had not been defending itself, they just refused, and Tony Snow was doing it. He was giving people a reason to stand up and cheer. And the bond -- and he was one of these guys in broadcasting that had it -- the bond that he had with the audience on this program, with you and over at Fox, carried with him to the press secretary job, and he knew that he had that bond, it gave him additional confidence. But he also believed in what he was doing, and he was very loyal, but the great thing about Tony Snow was his faith. Tony Snow believed in himself; he believed in his family; he believed in God, and he believed in America, and he looked at death as a promotion. He said that when he was told the first time that he had colon cancer, he said, "You know, it squares you up pretty fast. You face the future with an entirely different perspective." And he never whined about it, he never complained, and no matter where you saw him -- smiling, infectiously smiling. The last time I saw him was last August in the White House, you were there; Snerdley was there, Rove was desperate to meet Snerdley. We'd gone up, I had a meeting with the president the night before, and Karl Rove invited us for breakfast in the White House mess. And Josh Bolten there and Pete Wehner, a bunch of the staff, and Tony looked good, and he sounded good. He was smiling, and he was just having a great time.

He was an inspiration to everybody that knew him and had a chance to interact with him. I remember he had Daschle on once, on Fox News Sunday, and sometime in the interview Daschle had mentioned that he was either going to be grandfather again or that he had just become one, and Tony just stopped everything in the middle of the interview, said, "Isn't that what it's really all about? When you get down to brass tacks, Senator, isn't that what it's really all about?" And it was to Tony Snow. Douglas K. Daniel, the Associated Press, wrote of Tony Snow, great guy, great television anchorman looks, if not always a command of the facts. That's a reference to one of the things that was going around in the White House press corps. Tony didn't spend a lot of time reading briefing books because he felt it was information overload, which can happen. But the occasion of his death, a universally loved and respected guy, to take that kind of a shot is just typical of the AP. But still, it was infuriating.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Elaine in central California, I'm glad you waited, Elaine. Welcome to the EIB Network.

CALLER: Hi, Rush.

RUSH: Hi.

CALLER: I wanted to talk a little bit about Tony Snow. I had the pleasure of meeting him in April of '07. My husband and I and two of our friends were visiting Washington, DC, and we were staying in Alexandria, and we were on our way to a fish restaurant on King Street one evening, and I looked over and saw Tony standing there talking to a gentleman outside of a restaurant, and I just felt that I had to say something to him, about thinking about him and wishing him well, and so I did call out to him, and I said, "Tony, Mr. Snow, we're praying for you, and we're hoping that things work out well for you, because you're the best press secretary the White House has ever had, and we look forward to seeing you back there." And to my utter amazement, he walked down the sidewalk where we were, because he was about 15 feet, roughly, away from us, and he shook my hand, and he shook my husband's hand, and he asked where we were from, and we told him California, and he talked to us a little bit about the chemotherapy that he was getting ready to undergo. He had just been out of the hospital for a short time from that surgery, I think. And he thanked us for thinking about him and praying for him and he was so humble and just such a fine person, and, as you say, he had great faith and great faith in himself. And he had this big smile on his face and --

RUSH: Always did. No matter where you saw him, no matter what the circumstance, he always had that smile. It made you smile, too.

CALLER: Oh, it made me feel so good. And I am so saddened that he passed. I just thought he was such a wonderful person.

RUSH: Well, you were surprised that he reacted to you, correct?

CALLER: I was very surprised. I expected him maybe to smile and say thanks or mouth thanks and maybe wave at me, but here he took the time to actually come down and speak to us and inquire where we were from and if we were enjoying our visit to DC, and I was kind of at a loss for words.

RUSH: Well, I'm glad you told the story, because that's the kind of person he was. You used the word that is extremely accurate, very accurate about Tony, and that's humble. He never became larger than the institution that he worked at, whatever it was, he never became larger than his job, he never became the focus of it, and I'm sure when you shouted out to him, he was stunned and very appreciative, and wanted to let you know so rather than just wave at you and acknowledge you. He's just a gentle soul. He's just one of those rare people that had no airs. We all have an ego, but his was hard to detect, and he never, never acted better than anybody or superior to people in any way, shape, manner, or form. So look, Elaine, I'm glad you had the experience of meeting him, and it just goes to show when this kind of thing happens, if you see somebody you've always wanted to meet, shout at 'em, you never know what's going to happen, they might turn out to be a Tony Snow, and some people you see, you don't want to meet, you just stare at 'em, but Tony was the kind of guy that he had that outreach, you wanted to know him. He had the ability, be it from behind the microphone or from behind the camera, he was consistently genuine, he was totally authentic. There were no airs about the guy, and when you met Tony Snow from one day to the next, he was Tony Snow. He was never Tony Snow on television. He was never Tony Snow on radio. He was never Tony Snow at the White House briefing room and podium. He was just Tony Snow.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Clark in St. Albans, West Virginia, nice to have you, sir, on the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER: Mr. Limbaugh.

RUSH: Sir.

CALLER: It's a pleasure to talk to you, and dittos from a proud liberal who has been tuning you in for nearly 20 years.

RUSH: Thank you, sir, very, very much.

CALLER: I offer my most sincere condolences to Tony Snow's family, friends, and colleagues and especially to you, Mr. Limbaugh. I know he was a good friend to you. Mr. Snow was one of the brightest points of light in conservative thought and politics. Beyond that, he presented himself as a true gentleman, and I'll miss him.

RUSH: That's very nice of you to say, sir, and you're exactly right. You've hit everything, you've nailed it.

CALLER: Well, let's hope for more folks like him.

RUSH: Well, yeah. He was a special person. I mean, to try to define what was unique, we're all unique. But, folks, I have to tell you, in the business he was in, media, to find somebody as selfless, without this ego of notice me, notice me, notice me, what do you think about me, how are they reacting to me, what's the feedback on me. For example, he finished a press briefing; most people will go back and study the tape and see how they did. Did they look good, were they funny, and then they'll wonder, "How did they like me out? Do you think they liked me?" Tony would go back and say, "Okay, did I present this as effectively as I could have?" He looked at it in the context of his job. He was happy. He was genuinely happy. They throw this term happy warrior around. But he was a genuinely happy person. And one of the things that was, I think, crucial in making that possible is he was not obsessed with himself all the time. He had other things that he devoted his life to. I mean, he had professionalism, don't misunderstand, but he was not diva-ish. And believe me, I'm telling you, in the business he was in, the media business, that was a profound thing to achieve, and that may be hard to replicate in the media business.

END TRANSCRIPT

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