Former White House press secretary and Fox News anchor Tony Snow has died of cancer. Back when he was still breathing and lying to America for a living, Snow asked the members of the White House press corps to wear yellow silicone bracelets to commemorate his terrible disease. In Mr. Snow’s memory, I now reprint a letter I wrote to NBC correspondent David Gregory last May, urging him to put aside his journalistic integrity and wear the damn bracelet.
Dear Mr. Gregory,
Brian Thompson here. I know you’re a cub reporter, so you may not recognize my name. Think back. You’re a sophomore at Journalism Academy. You’re shotgunning a Pabst Blue Ribbon and toking from your roommate’s apple bong. It’s the night before finals. You’ve partied a little too hard. You’re not sure if you wrapped it up last night before sticking it to Soledad O’Brien. You’re cramming for your 215 class, Journalistic Icons of the 20th Century. You should have read it months ago. The prof spent a whole week of class on it, but you were too busy scoring dimebags from the trunk of Shepard Smith’s Corolla. It’s my classic Vanity Fair piece, Going Down on the Down and Out: One Reporter’s Journey Into the Heart of Homeless Eroticism. So, you skimmed it. You scraped by with a C, and that’s only because Dean Miklashevski likes them tall and gangly.
I suggest you track down a copy of that seminal story and give it a proper reading. Matt Lauer never did, and look what happened to him.
So, now that you know who I am, let me tell you I’m not too sure who you are. I tried watching a couple of those White House press briefings, so I’ve seen your sasquatchian bulk looming in the front row like you’ve just been defrosted from a glacier. But that’s about all of you I’ve seen. Frankly, I’m too frightened by Helen Thomas to keep watching those things. Helen is a demon from my dreams. At night, she chases me into neon-lit alleyways and robs me of my manhood against a urine-stained fence. Plus, our relationship never really took off. It ended kind of badly, actually. Seeing her kind of still hurts, you know? You know how that goes?
Anyway, I don’t watch the briefings, so I don’t know whether you wore one of those yellow bracelets with “Tony Snow” on it. I know the White House press office passed them out to all the reporters. Seems sensible to me. After all, poor Tony has cancer. That’s the same disease Lance Armstrong had, and those yellow bracelets were the only thing that cured him. Something to do with magnets, I think. I’m no doctor.
But for some reason I keep reading about some kind of outrage over this. People are throwing around epithets like “empty gesture” and “theatrical sympathy mongering” and “didn’t Bush just cut the National Cancer Institute’s funding by $40 million?”
A bunch of hot air, if you ask me. First of all, those bracelets may be fashionable and functional, but they’re not empty gestures. Three words: Lance. Armstrong. Cured.
Secondly, what’s the sudden problem with sympathy mongering? Where was the outrage when Franklin Roosevelt rolled around in that ridiculous contraption to rally support for the New Deal? Have we forgotten that the proceeds from Roosevelt’s appearance on the Jerry’s Kids telethon funded the first quarter-century of social security? FDR was no kid. And television hadn’t even been invented! That’s just dishonest.
Look, I know it looks bad that Bush cut cancer research funding at the same time his press secretary is going through cancer treatments. But without that $40 million, how would the White House have made all those bracelets? They’re made of rubber and magnets and maybe some other stuff, but none of that grows on trees. Plus, the publicity generated from an entire White House press corps’ wearing of those bracelets — and I hope to God you wore yours, Gregory — could save even more lives.
Think about it. We take endangered animals from their natural habitats and put them in zoos so the world can see them up close. Get to know them a little. Stand in front of their cages with arms raised like, “Oh no, it’s about to eat me!” Then the world goes home and donates money to the organizations trying to protect those animals.
So, in the same way, the White House should donate Tony Snow to a zoo. And then the world will see him with his cancer and buy yellow bracelets and donate money to the National Cancer Institute. Pretty soon, they’ll make back all 40 million of those dollars. And in a few more years, they might even make back the money Bush cut from their budget last year. It’s a win-win!
Make this happen, Gregory. And wear the damn bracelet.
Brian Thompson, concerned citizen