Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, one of the Progressive media's strongest voices and one of the sharpest writers I have ever read, died today at the age of 41.

I found out hours ago and have been unable to write anything until now… I'm feeling a numbing, knot-in-the-stomach grief -- not enough to burst into tears, but enough to immobilize me with thoughts of Steve and to perform the bizarre ritual of looking at the last e-mails he sent me in February before being hospitalized and pummeling myself with the reality that I'll never see those kinds of words again.

And what kind of words they were… Whether in a personal e-mail to me or a post lancing the right-wing knucklehead du jour, Steve was, well, Steve and his clarity, tone and pugnacity were unmistakable.

Steve was already a very well-known blogger when I began doing political commentary and reporting in 2005 and, as is the lot of all new bloggers, I was resoundingly ignored by most in the Progressive blog world -- hell, I was ignored by most of my family and friends.

But despite his hard-earned and lofty status and my total lack thereof, Steve acknowledged me and showed me respect beyond what I had contributed to our common dialog. It wasn't in e-mails with a lot of words -- Steve wasn't one to write flowery praise dotted with smiley faces -- but just a few sentences from the likes of Steve Gilliard telling me my writing had worth, was enough to get my hands back on the keyboard again.

Steve was a fighter and, as tears welled in my eyes upon hearing of his passing today, I almost started laughing thinking of Steve somehow witnessing the spectacle and telling me to cut the f___ing waterworks and get back to fighting for our country. He was that tough and loved our nation that much. But to those of us who worked with him and sought his advice, as I so often did, he was, more than he may have been willing to admit, a gentle, kind soul with a loving heart.

So, I'm going to get back to work. There's much to be done in America and the work Steve Gilliard did so well goes on -- though we, his teammates and countrymen, are poorer and immeasurably diminished by his passing.

To his wonderful partner, Jen, and his family, I offer my deepest sympathies.

Steve didn’t ask many to love him… Somehow, it just turned out that way.

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