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June 03, 2007

Steve Gilliard, RIP (1966-2007)

Steve Gilliard, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Progressive journalism has lost one of its best and brightest with the untimely passing of Steve Gilliard.

Steve was a blogging pioneer whose forceful and distinctive voice will be sorely missed.

Steve was also wonderful teacher, in print and in person--journalism, food, politics, you name it... Steve always had a lucid opinion and an illustrative anecdote to drive his point home.

I learned so much about real world politics from Steve--stuff you never learn in school. It was Steve who explained to me the role of that mysterious thing called "street money" that makes campaigns work. He was very patient with my naive questions.

People sometimes get nostalgic for the "good old days" of journalism when the craft was handed down. Steve kept that tradition alive by sharing his knowledge with newbies.

When I set out to interview Blackwater mercenaries in New Orleans, Steve was the only person whose advice I trusted about how to approach these twitchy heavily armed men in mirrored sunglasses.

Steve graduated from the NYU school of journalism and covered a lot of tough beats before he took up blogging. I knew he'd know what to do.

"Pretend like you don't know anything," he said, "And ask to see their guns."

It worked.

Steve was a real team player who was unstintingly generous to other bloggers.

It seems impossible that someone so full of life could be taken from us so soon. He will be missed terribly.


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I don't know why I feel this overwhelming sadness at his loss. I really didn't know Steve at all. [Read More]


so very sad, so very unfair. i lost a friend about that same age a few years ago. skippy ( has a roundup of comments re Steve around the blogosphere.

Out of respect for Gilliard, who was the closest thing my blog had to a role model or blogfather even though I never got the chance to meet him, my blog's homepage will remain dark until midnight tonight.

I've got an idea for a tribute but no clue how to get started. One of Steve's constant peeves was the lack of funding for progressive bloggers which he felt made it impossible for the left to fully match the right's noise machine. How would we go about starting the Gilliard Fund to provide a small but real income for a core of professional liberal bloggers. I think the money is out there, both from individuals and from some of his despised deep pockets who, if approached properly, might be happy to fund "new media projects"

Let's memorialize Steve by making one of his major desires a reality.

Gabe - put me down for $200.

I am an atheist. I believe Gilly the man is gone forever, never to return. As a humanist, I believe that a part of him lives in everyone he touched, every action he influenced, and in the infinite chain of knock-on repercussions that follow from the influence of those he influenced. He leaves the world a better place than it would have been without his presence. I hope the same will be true of me when my time comes.

Lindsay Beyerstein -

What did he tell you about "street money"?

Street money is slushfund cash that campaign staffers keep on hand to facilitate various electoral activities in the community.

A mayoral campaign in Philly recently got held up at gunpoint for its street money.

Let's say there's a bingo night or some other cash intensive fundraiser. Those proceeds may get divvied up to various operatives who hire people to perform various tasks for the campaign. Street money not necessarily illegal, or even unethical--but it's certainly informal. Sometimes street money is used to suppress or buy votes, but some of the expenditures are legit.

Thank you for the beautiful photo. It seems like pictures of Steve were kind of rare.

Sincere condolences.

I'm very sorry to read this news. He'll be missed.

Street money is storied and ancient in Maryland; the General Assembly tried to ban it here and the courts upheld it as a constitutional right. Steve would have understood West Baltimore very well politically.

Whenever one read Gilliard on the subject of Iraq, the fog lifted just a tiny bit, to give us a glimpse of what might actually be going on there. Very few people reporting on the subject have done anything near like the apparently almost obsessive military reading Steve did. The fog descends again and we hear the noise but can see practically nothing.

Lindsey, that's the sweetest photo of Steve. Thanks for posting it.

I saw the news on TPM this morning and I cried out loud. And then I wimpered like a baby for someone I’ve never met.

Steve was so reliable. A real fighter. A real blood-boiler. One of the good guys. He could be funny as hell, too, couldn’t he?

He never ever moaned about his health. Hell, he never even mentioned it in passing. I had no idea and, from comments left on his blog when he went into hospital in February, I realized I wasn’t the only regular who had no idea.

What a smart guy. What an interesting read: Iraq, American history, the military, local and US politics, food, drink, music, soccer. That stupid soccer.

I’ll miss him dearly.



I came across Steve's blog when James Wolcott pointed out his coverage of the Kerik disaster. I visited at least twice a day, every day, ever since.

An amazing writer, able to discuss a huge range of topics insightfully, able to produce anything from a ferocious rant to a short devastaing piece of cool-headed analysis.

I learned a lot from reading him, not the least of which was a renewed faith in the power of writing and activism.

He much too early death leaves a huge hole.

I am sorely disappointed that I am just 'meeting' this obvious legend. Also suspicious as usual. Sounds like he was deservedly well-loved and respected.

He leaves the world a better place than it would have been without his presence. I hope the same will be true of me when my time comes.

Exactly what I was thinking when I first heard.

I hope that Steve's family knows how dearly Steve will be missed by so many people in so many places. I hope his mom can find out that some guy sitting in some cube in Lakewood, Colorado, is crying quietly at work because Steve is gone.

....And that a middle-aged woman in Jersey has been sad all weekend because one of the country's greatest bullshit-detectors is gone...

What a real bummer. Steve's perceptive mind shed light on so many things. I'm sitting at my desk with a heavy heart as well.

There is a movement afoot to delete the article on Steve at Wikpedia. I have no idea what to do about this. If you do, go for it. Steve wouldn't care if he had an entry in Wikpedia or not, but I do, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Normally, taking care of this would probably be up to Jen, but, given the circumstances, she doesn't need to have this dumped on her shoulders.
I must say it's in really poor taste to be even discussing deleting the article so close to Steve's passing.

There is a movement afoot to delete the article on Steve at Wikpedia. I have no idea what to do about this. If you do, go for it.

Edit it. Build it up. There are a bunch of knee-jerk Vogon admins there, and they have an studied ignorance and attitude problem towards blogs. They're the kind of people who'll devote hours to honing an entry on a comic-book character. You know the sort.

If the NYT publishes an obit, it's going make the people who whined about 'non-notable' look pretty damn foolish.

In the meantime, can someone bang some A-list heads together and start up a 501(c)(3) that accepts tax-deductible donations and provides grants to aspiring online voices? Like GabeNichols said, that's the kind of thing that would truly do Steve's memory proud.

Who's going to blog about military logistics and English football now? Damn.

I can't quite remember how I first came across Steve's blog, but it inevitably became my first read everyday over the last three years. As others have countlessly mentioned, Steve had a knack of stripping away all of the bullshit and getting to the heart of an issue.

I particularly appreciated his take on political issues from an African-American and New Yorker perspective. His posts regarding the Transit Strike were especially illuminating.

I also appreciated his posts reguarding Iraq from a military historian's perspective (as well as his series of posts on colonialism). As others have rightly pointed out, many of his predictions reguarding Iraq have (unfortunately) come to fruition.

Finally, I also greatly appreciated the fact that he was an unapologetic liberal and never backed away from confrontation. He demonstrated true courage and leadership by example - if we want to make a difference, we need to be able to defend our ideas and our beliefs and never, ever give up fighting for them.

Like other, I was deeply saddened with Steve's passing. But I think his legacy will live on in his words and his inspiring others to let their voices be heard.

I feared this for quite some time but still I am just crushed. As I shared his love of military history, politics, food and just about everything else, Steve will continue to be an inspiration. Born a Red Sox fan, I will think of Gilly every time I shout "Fuck the fuckin' Yankees!"


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