Rosenthal was exemplar of American journalism
A.M. Rosenthal, reporter, editor and finally columnist for the New York Times, has died.
ONE of the titans of American journalism in the past century, A.M. "Abe" Rosenthal retooled and maintained the New York Times as the most prestigious newspaper in the world. Rosenthal died this week at age 84 in New York two weeks after suffering a stroke.
Most of our readers became aware of Rosenthal from early 1987 through 1999, when his column appeared regularly on the op-ed page of the Star-Bulletin. They knew him as generally conservative on a wide range of issues. A frequent advocate of Israel and its security, he was a strong supporter of human rights and a harsh critic of China and other countries that abused those rights.
But that was only the final stage of a career that spanned six decades at the Times as reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and, for 17 years, the man in charge of the Times' news operation under the titles of managing editor and executive editor.
As a reporter, Rosenthal was brilliant and incisive. He was ejected from Poland in 1959 after describing that country's leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, as "moody and irascible." The expulsion order said Rosenthal had "written very deeply and in detail about the internal situation, party and leadership matters. The Polish government cannot tolerate such probing reporting." His Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1960 cited the order.
During the 1970s, Rosenthal directed the Times in coverage of Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Under his watch, the Times published what had been a secret government history of the Vietnam War called the Pentagon Papers in 1971, beating back a U.S. Supreme Court challenge by the Nixon administration.
Rosenthal will be best remembered for turning a gray and stodgy newspaper on the verge of collapse into a bright, aggressive and financially successful epitome of a free press.
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