Bre Payton, Federalist writer and frequent Fox News guest, dead at 26

/ CBS/AP

San Diego — Bre Payton, a writer for the conservative news site The Federalist and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other media outlets, died suddenly Friday at the age of 26. The Federalist and a friend, Morgan Murtaugh, confirmed Payton's death in San Diego.

Murtaugh tweeted that she found her friend unconscious on Thursday morning and doctors determined Payton had H1N1 flu – also known as swine flu – and meningitis.

In recent appearances on Fox News, Payton had condemned what she called "fake news" media coverage of President Donald Trump and "sexist and bigoted" coverage of first lady Melania Trump.

Bre Payton Fox News via YouTube

An obituary in The Federalist called Payton "joyful, hard-working, and compassionate." It said she had a deep Christian faith.

Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist, wrote in an essay on Saturday that he realized Payton was a "potential star" when he first met her.

"She was eager to learn, to write, and to go places — not because of ambition, but because she wanted to change the world," Domenech wrote.

In a tweet, Meghan McCain, daughter of late Sen. John McCain, called Payton "a wonderful, fearless, vibrant, intelligent young woman."

Ben and I are absolutely gutted and horrified by this news. Our prayers for @Bre_payton and her family. We are less without her – in every possible way. A wonderful, fearless, vibrant, intelligent young woman. Sending prayers to all of her family and friends during this darkness. https://t.co/K5nfRiB7gy

— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) December 28, 2018

The Federalist said Payton received a journalism degree in 2015 from Patrick Henry College in Virginia and joined The Federalist that April. She later appeared as a guest commentator on the Fox News Channel and One America News Network.

Payton was survived by her parents, George and Cindy; siblings James, Jack, Christina and Cheekie; and boyfriend Ryan Colby, according to The Federalist.

First published on December 31, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Conservative writer Bre Payton dead at 26

Frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other media outlets, died suddenly at the age of 26

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