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

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.

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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."

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.