Bre Payton, a staff writer at the right-wing website The Federalist, died on Friday at age 26 after a brief and sudden illness.
The news was reported on Twitter by Payton’s good friend, San Diego politician Morgan Murtaugh, who found the 26-year-old Payton unconscious in her room Thursday morning before rushing her to a San Diego hospital for treatment.
Then on Friday came the tweet from Murtaugh, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in California’s 53rd district this year: “Thank you everyone for your prayers. It is with a heavy heart that I type this. Unfortunately Bre has passed. Please send prayers to her family. Rest in paradise you beautiful soul.”
In her brief career Payton, had established herself as a fixture in conservative media. In the hours between when her illness became public and her passing, dozens of pundits and journalists offered their support and prayers, including her boss, Federalist publisher Ben Domenech.
“I am asking you all to pray this morning for our own @Bre_payton, who is battling a horrible and sudden medical condition,” he said.
11 Media Winners of 2018, From Hope Hicks to Rachel Maddow (Photos)
2018 was a tumultuous year for members of the media. For many, even most, it was a grim period of layoffs, consolidations and paywalls. But for others, it was a year full of triumphs.
Sean Hannity: The Fox News host would have appeared on TheWrap's list of media winners simply for hosting the #1-rated cable news show on TV, but it's his unique personal relationship with President Trump, who he is known to call regularly, that made him the only choice for the top spot.
Bryan Goldberg: In an otherwise ugly year for media, which was marred by layoffs and consolidations, the Bustle kingpin proved a standout success. His acquisitions of Gawker and Mic.com for bargain-basement discounts suggest plans for a burgeoning digital empire.
Los Angeles Times: The iconic LA broadsheet was well on its way to the losers' column under the disastrous leadership of Tronc. The paper, however, was rescued by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong for a half-billion dollars. Now, in swanky new offices, the paper is expanding.
Chris Cuomo: The CNN anchor had always been a standout on the network's morning show, "New Day," but he really came into his own after a move to primetime in June of this year. Cuomo is still way behind his rivals at MSNBC and Fox News, but he has injected new life into the hour, which had been moribund under its earlier host Anderson Cooper.
Hope Hicks: The former White House communications director and Trump whisperer managed to leave the White House scandal-free and with her reputation intact in February. She then landed herself a plush new gig at "new" Fox where she serves as comms chief. Just 30 years old, it's a good bet you'll be hearing more of her in the years to come.
The Washington Examiner: The Trump-leaning D.C. tabloid got a jolt of new energy after poaching New York Post Op-Ed editor Seth Mandel. The paper will also be expanding nationally next year, largely off the carcass of its sister publication The Weekly Standard (which will be shuttered).
Ronan Farrow: Once an obscure MSNBC journalist, Ronan Farrow has rocketed to fame while reporting some of the biggest stories of the MeToo movement. His pieces for the New Yorker on Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman all played a significant role in ending their careers. He nabbed a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts, and — in his spare time — managed to write a bestselling book on foreign policy.
Shari Redstone: The National Amusements super-boss spent much of 2018 scheming against her rival, former CBS chief Les Moonves, and attempting to force a merger between CBS and Viacom. A MeToo scandal put Moonves away for good and now makes the merger a near certainty.
Fox & Friends: President Trump watches the nation's top cable news morning show with near religious devotion. As he has since 2011, he sometimes calls in to offer lengthy monologues about world issues. Segments from the show are regularly repackaged into the president's Twitter feed and can shape news cycles for days. When hosts are upset with him, they have occasionally looked directly into the camera to tell him so.
Rachel Maddow: America in the Trump era has also created a crop of #resistance heroes, with the brightest star being Rachel Maddow. The MSNBC host expounds nightly on the latest details of the Russia probe and delivers lurid speculation about how the latest scandal will be the one to take the president down. Maddow and her program have been rewarded in the ratings, making her the most significant (non-Fox) anchor in cable news by far.
Megyn Kelly: Yes, she may have lost her NBC show. But the ratings had been sagging and everyone agreed it was a bad fit anyway. Now the former "Today" star is poised to walk with a roughly $30-million severance package, and if you don't think a tell-all book is coming, you haven't been paying attention.