Carrie Budoff Brown, the editor in chief at Politico, sent out the following to the staff on Saturday:
We have sad news.
Brett Norman, one of our health care reporters and a beloved colleague and friend, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 42.
He leaves behind his wife, the journalist Kate Dailey, two young sons, Everett, 4, and Owen, 2, his mother Jean, and his brother, Daniel.
Brett was with Pro almost from the start – the summer of 2011. He covered all the craziness surrounding the launch of Obamacare – and he broke the story that the very same HHS official who made a mess out of Medicare.gov later went on to make a mess out of HealthCare.gov. Brett had fun with that one.
Brett worked at Rockefeller University before joining Politico, and brought expertise in the intersection of science, politics and policy. So he was our go-to guy when there was an interesting bioethics story with national impact – like the story a few years back of the little girl who needed a lung transplant, whose case meticulously chronicled by Brett would change organ allocation policy nationwide. Later when the health team expanded, he switched to the pharma beat, writing about drugs as well as hot button issues like fetal tissue research and abortion.
At the time of his diagnosis, he was reporting out a project about overprescribing drugs to foster kids as a Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow. The cancer did not let him complete that story, which mattered to him deeply. But just as he was falling ill, he did write this lovely Agenda piece, which helped kick off a year-long series on public health in a demographically changing 21st century America. He was proud of that one, too.
Brett graduated from the University of Chicago, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He got his start covering cops, courts, and local government for the Pensacola News Journal – where he was part of a team that was a Pulitzer finalist for public service not once but twice.
When former Pro editor Tim Grieve hired Brett (Jen Haberkorn still has the email!), he described him as a “thoughtful” reporter and that was true. He was also a thoughtful friend – smart, considerate, with a wickedly wry sense of humor. We miss him already.
Kate had one request of us – that we “tell everyone he was the greatest guy.” We all know that already. We hope that Kate will never forget that Brett was so grateful to be married to the greatest gal.
We’ll soon share details about the arrangements and anything we can do to help the Norman-Dailey family.