NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard: A Happy Warrior Gone to Rest
NewsBusters has certainly set the standard for media criticism, and since its debut in 2005, Noel Sheppard has been a mainstay pointing out the media's left-wing bias to great effect. But now Sheppard is gone, felled by lung cancer at the all too young age of 53.
Noel Sheppard was known by friends, associates, and family members as a happy warrior, a man with a quick wit, one who was always ready to help a friend in need or to aid a colleague to push an issue. Upon its, debut he immediately became one of NewsBusters' most popular and beloved figures with a knack for finding those stories that would lead the news cycle on any given day.
In a short announcement, Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center and sponsor of the NewsBusters site, wrote, "Noel was not just a force of nature, he was a very good man."
"It must be said that no blogger here was more prolific and more popular," Bozell said.
Sheppard was born in New York but moved to California as a young adult, and by the late 70s and early 80s was working in the financial industry having joined Merrill Lynch’s options arbitrage division. He rose quickly and soon had a new career as a financial consultant. For a time he was even a branch vice president for a bank. It wasn’t long before he had started his own successful legal and financial estate planning company with offices in Northern and Southern California.
But by the early 2000s, Sheppard became alarmed as the Reagan revolution was turned back by a rising tide of liberalism. In an attempt to combat that liberalism and out of concern for his country, he began to write opinion editorials for such sites as the American Thinker and the New Media Journal. By 2005, he became a full time blogger for NewsBusters, a midlife career change that he never imagined he’d tackle.
One of Sheppard's NewsBusters editors, Matthew Sheffield, said that he became so popular that oft times Noel "single-handedly brought in half of the site traffic" to NewsBusters.org each month.
For nearly a decade, Sheppard continued as a major Newsbsuters contributor. All were shocked when only two months ago he announced he was fighting cancer. More shocking was just how short that fight was. Diagnosed with lung cancer in January, only two months later he would be gone.
During the fight for his life, the popular writer told fans how hard it was to take the news from doctors who told him that his cancer was aggressive and advanced before he even knew it was there. After he was given his diagnosis, Sheppard admitted, "I spent the next 24 hours crying and being very rude to everyone I came in contact with. I felt I'd been cheated, ripped off by life."
He was entirely shocked by developing what turned out to be a rare, aggressive form of cancer. "Can't believe this. I'm the healthiest person our age I know. Doesn't make sense," he said on Twitter.
Sheppard kept friends and fans informed with his frequent Twitter updates--even though his doctors and family urged him to stay off social media and concentrate on recovery. He even noted how amused he was to wake up one day to find that someone had started the rumor that he had already died from his ailment. "I was very pleased to log onto Twitter this morning and not find out I had died," Sheppard joked on March 16.
"I'm alive & battling," the NewsBusters favorite insisted. Still, he was engaged in a life or death struggle and turned down several requests for an interview about his illness because he just wasn't well enough to give it his all.
Then, only two weeks after the rumors of his death hit Twitter, he succumbed to his illness despite his best efforts to fight on.
Upon his passing, a host of conservative leaders, bloggers, and media folks expressed their sorrow. From Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck to Amanda Carpenter, Lachlan Markay, and a host of others, Sheppard was celebrated for his life, friendship, and work.
His legacy is the thousands of stories he left to us chronicling the left’s attacks on our society. But he wasn’t just a leader on the Internet. It might also be easily said that Noel also single-handedly programmed the whole of conservative talk radio with his media criticism.
In fact, in his very last post on NewsBusters, Sheppard chided Politico for refusing to fully quote conservative radio host Sean Hannity in remarks he made in response to talker Michael Savage's comments.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart, Matthew Sheffield went further, praising his colleague as "an American original."
"Noel was one of the early leaders of the conservative blogosphere and as many people told me, he was an inspiration," Sheffield said. "The fact that he was able to transition from a career that had nothing to do with politics to becoming one of the most popular conservative writers really showed that the American Dream still is alive even today."
"I think he also had a lot in common with Andrew Breitbart," Sheffield continued, "both of them were very gracious welcoming people who were accepting of everyone. Both were funny as heck and always joking around but full of passion. Noel had a unique ability to write in a way that was sensational but accurate at the same time, which is a very rare ability."
To the end, Sheppard was in good spirits and sure he'd beat his ailment. As Sheffield noted, "When I last spoke with him via phone, while he sounded awful, he was optimistic about his progress."
Sheppard’s last Tweet shows he was still ready with his quick wit to make others laugh. On March 18, Noel tweeted a link to an article about auto recalls enacted by General Motors, saying, "Obama's government sure can build good cars."
Sheppard is survived by his wife and two children.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.