Tony Snow Accepts WFB Media Excellence Award at 2008 MRC Gala

Tony Snow, who we sadly learned passed away Saturday morning after a battle with cancer, accepted the second annual "William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence" at the MRC's 2008 Gala and DisHonors awards held in Washington, DC on April 10 this year. In one of his last public appearances, Snow praised the MRC and chastised journalists for not appreciating America's greatness:

"I love your determination, I love your creativity, your terrier-like refusal to let the press get away with things that violate the canons of journalism. But while I'm at it, I want to take a moment to talk about what is the most indefensible lapse of all. And we've seen several examples of it tonight. That is, the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'

"It's the attitude that, when you look at American life, you look at it with a sense of boredom; you're surrounded by people who are mediocre; the politicians are boring; oh, you look at it with a yawn. There's a kind of an Olympian look down at the people that fails to acknowledge that even now, in a time when we are riven by disagreements about a war and when we are anxious about our economy, this is still the world's dream machine."

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell issued this statement on Saturday regarding Tony Snow's passing:

"The news of Tony Snow's death wasn't wholly unexpected, but it's still devastating. Tony was a man brimming with optimism and you just felt that if anyone could beat this cancer, he could do it. He was an absolute professional in his craft and always, always a gentleman. The conservative movement is diminished today and anyone who knew him is heartbroken for his wife, Jill, and his three children Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi.

"Rest in peace, gentle warrior."

Now the full text of Snow's remarks in accepting the "William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence" at the MRC's 2008 Gala and DisHonors on April 10:

Thank you very much. Thank you so much.

First, it's just a delight to see the room packed tonight and I want to thank Brent and the MRC for what they've done for many years. Not only to make us laugh, but to make us think.

I do have to explain one thing. You probably feel that you're in close quarters tonight. That's because we had actually concocted a surprise we were going to try and pull on you tonight. The idea was I would come up here, this curtain rises and my, the rock band I'm in is standing there, and we play a couple of tunes.

Well, it turns out one of our guitarists is off on business in New York. Well, that was okay, we're ready to go. But earlier this week, another one got called away to business in Kazakhstan. That's a pretty good excuse.

So as a result, I'll tell you what we're going to do. I've made this promise to Brent. Next year we'll come back with a band, and we'll absolutely entertain and we will have a great time.

Again, I want to thank you so much for the honor and I'm going to talk in a minute about Bill Buckley. But I do want to thank Brent because, I'll tell you what, when MRC started, it was back in those days when conservatives -- we still felt ourselves embattled, we didn't feel that we had voices and we certainly looked with frustration on what we saw on the television screens, or heard on radio, or saw when we opened up the newspapers.

Well, we'd bitch and moan, but we didn't do anything about it, did we? Until Brent and a hardy band started doing the very difficult business of poring through news clips, and radio, and video. I'll tell you, it used to be when I was -- well in fact I'll be doing it again -- when I was writing columns and other things, if I needed a news clip, I'd call MRC. These guys are an extraordinary resource. And Brent I want to thank you on behalf of all of us who've labored in the vineyards for these many years.

To Mark Levin, for the 'pants off, hat on' image, which will haunt me certainly through the night, thank you for that.

I'm going to give you a few brief comments. First, I love to be here because you love to laugh. Laughter is maybe the most important and underrated ingredients in politics. If you cannot laugh at politics, you are not alive, or you're not paying attention.

The business of exposing bias is a little bit like serving as a parole officer at a juvenile detention facility. The misdeeds seldom change, the miscreants seldom learn, but you still have to do your best to encourage good behavior. And you have to do it in such a way that you don't lose your temper or your mind.

Now, I love your determination, I love your creativity, your terrier-like refusal to let the press get away with things that violate the canons of journalism. But while I'm at it, I want to take a moment to talk about what is the most indefensible lapse of all. And we've seen several examples of it tonight. That is, the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'

It's the attitude that, when you look at American life, you look at it with a sense of boredom; you're surrounded by people who are mediocre; the politicians are boring; oh, you look at it with a yawn. There's a kind of an Olympian look down at the people that fails to acknowledge that even now, in a time when we are riven by disagreements about a war and when we are anxious about our economy, this is still the world's dream machine.

Tonight we will hear of yet another soldier who has fallen in battle in this country and, if you've talked to people who've been in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you've heard the stories, you realize that the special thing about this country is we have young men and women who will expend their lives so that others can be free. And when they return they don't talk about the gore of war -- they talk about the fact that they have planted seeds of hope in places that before have not seen hope. They have shared with captive nations the power of the American dream. When somebody looks at the war and does not report these, they are missing some of the big stories.

When somebody looks at the economy today and gives me numbers, they're missing the fact that we are living on top of a volcano. And if you don't feel it -- I'll tell you what, if you don't believe it, look at your kids' Christmas lists. If you understand any of that stuff, you're a better person than I am.

But the fact is that this economy, each and every year, below the surface is churning with creativity. The Dallas Fed a couple of years ago did a study, found out that, that in the year 2006, they estimated that new information going into the global economy was the equivalent of 37,000 Libraries of Congress, or 629 billion volumes.

We're sitting on a volcano. There's excitement out there. Your kids feel it. If you look at them, you watch them text messaging hundreds of times a day -- I don't know how they do it -- but you look at it, and you look at a younger generation that is entrepreneurial, and is enterprising, and is excited, and is filled with the joy of creation, and it is our job to liberate them.

And it's also the press's job to cover that miracle that is born every day. Larry Kudlow, I want to single you out because of all the people who write about this stuff, nobody does it better, nobody does it more reliably. I want to thank you; I steal from you all the time.

Our press too often is missing the truly grand stories of triumph and sacrifice, of Yankee ingenuity and transcendent kindness. They portray failure as success and success as failure, and wonder why the readers, listeners, and viewers are going away.

Second, I cannot tell you what an honor it is to receive an award named after Bill Buckley. Bill was our happy warrior, in the manner of a young child or a holy man. He took endless joy in a world that never ceased to yield up new delights, many of which he captured and immortalized with his unparalleled and personal prose. He rejoiced in discovering new talent as well.

Quick show of hands, how many people here got a start in the business because of Bill Buckley? How many? Just a quick show -- I mean you're going to see -- don't be bashful, but many people in the business will tell you that. Bill had this ability to look at young people with a sense of wonder and to pluck them out and to give them opportunities and hope.

What he wanted to do was to introduce bright young minds to the world and at the same time introduce the world to brilliant young men and women. It never occurred to him that he might be minting competitors; he was too generous for that. As a matter of fact, Bill's courtliness, grace, generosity, and selflessness, set an example we all ought to follow in our lives.

Realize that there is plenty of success to go around -- you make more of it, you don't try to hoard it. The same for his gift of friendship, which like everything else I've mentioned, really illustrated his relish of life among God's children.

Third, we need to learn from Bill that life is too short for rancor. There's a time when fury seems thrilling -- Keith [Olbermann] -- maybe even profound, but as we mature we start to see boisterous anger as nothing more than bratty exhibitionism. If we want to convert people, let's do it the right way. Let's make our case plainly, happily, confidently. After all, we do have truth on our side.

And here's the most powerful source of truth: It's our belief in liberty. You see, if you believe in freedom, you believe that each and every individual on this planet has been invested by God with an unbreakable dignity, and that dignity is something that you want to nurture and grow so you set them free to go ahead and explore their dreams within a regime of freedom. You say, we will try to protect you from fraud and all of these things, but we want you to be the creative engine.

And as a result, the United States of America is the one place where no matter how humble your birth, you still have the possibility to become an engine of destiny.

The other thing is, we're daring. We're brash. We don't want a planned world, we like a world that is full of surprise, full of excitement, full of the unexpected innovation, full of the invention nobody expected -- for me, cancer cure, come on, let's go guys. But the fact is that the rare combination of freedom, and decency, and commitment in the American heart and spirit has us look to do things that nobody else wants to do, to extend the boundaries of life and the blessings of liberty. Bin Laden may be trying to figure out other ways to blow up people, but we're trying to figure out new ways to make people appreciate the joy and blessings of life.

So the belief in freedom, let me say, nothing, nothing -- are you listening Barack Obama? -- nothing is more certain to produce hope and change. Our creativity, our daring, our decency, our goodness, our joyousness, and our ambition -- these are the materials and mortar on which we build our shining city on the hill. We need those now to rebuild America's place, America's destiny as the light and the inspiration of the world.

So as we celebrate tonight, let's just remember a few things: the country needs our talents, it needs our passions, our principles, and our example. And let's honor Bill Buckley not with sappy reveries, but by leaping onto the barricades, standing athwart history and shouting as he did in his mature years: 'Bring it on!' It's an exceptional moment, I cannot tell you how much I cherish not only this award, but also having known Bill and to have you as friends. That's what it is all about. So, God bless you, and God bless America, and thank you very much.

NB Staff
NB Staff