Conservative writer Bre Payton dead at 26 after sudden illness

A sudden illness tragically took the life of a young conservative journalist on Friday.

Bre Payton, a writer for the conservative website The Federalist and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other media outlets, has died at the age of 26. 

Found unresponsive

The last we heard from Payton was on Wednesday when she sent out a tweet asking people to tune in to a television broadcast that was to take place that night. Payton, who normally works in Washington, was in California to guest-host a show on the One America News Network.

But in between that tweet and the following morning, something went terribly wrong. The CaringBridge post reports that Thursday morning, a friend found Payton “unresponsive and barely breathing.”

H1N1 flu, meningitis

“She immediately called 911 and Bre was taken to the hospital where she was admitted to the ICU, sedated & intubated, and doctors began working up a diagnosis,” the CaringBridge post continued. “After a CT scan and hours of testing, they have determined she has the H1N1 flu and possibly meningitis.”

It was at this point that Federalist publisher Ben Domenech made Payton’s condition public, through Twitter and the CaringBridge website, and asked for prayers. But unfortunately, within hours, Payton succumbed to the illness.

“Bre has passed,” Domenech tweeted Friday. “We are devastated. Last we saw her, she was her funny, smart, vivacious self. Now lost to us so suddenly.”

Payton remembered

Payton’s friends and colleagues in the media expressed their condolences and shock at the sudden loss, which was intensified by the fact that Payton was on television literally days before she died.

Payton’s employer, The Federalist, did so in a publication released on Friday, which described her as one who “brightened the lives of everyone around her.” “She was joyful, hard-working, and compassionate, and she leaves behind friends and colleagues for whom she brought nothing but sweetness and light,” it continued.

Payton earned a degree in journalism from Patrick Henry College before spending time as a reporter for She went on from there to work for The Federalist and make television appearances, the most notable of which were on Fox News.

“I cannot believe this. @Bre_payton was such a beautiful light, smart and funny and kind and talented,” tweeted “Fox News @ Night” host Shannon Bream. “Please pray for her broken-hearted loved ones, who are undoubtedly reeling. She was far too young.”

“The View” co-host Meghan McCain also tweeted her condolences, saying she was “horrified” by the news and praising Payton as a ” wonderful, fearless, vibrant, intelligent young woman.”

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Payton’s family has asked for privacy and prayers during this sad time. She is survived by her parents, Cindy and George, brothers James and Jack, sisters Christina and Cheekie, and boyfriend Ryan Colby.

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