Harry Rosenfeld dies at 91 after seeing ‘Third Degree Theft’ news


Harry M. Rosenfeld, who injected his own brash journalism into The Washington Post, where he oversaw two reporters that turned a local crime story into the national Watergate corruption scandal that overthrew the Nixon administration, died in his country home on July 16. Slingerlands, NY was 91 years old.

His daughter, Amy Rosenfeld Kaufman, said the cause was complications from Covid-19.

As The Post’s deputy managing editor for metropolitan news, Mr. Rosenfeld directly oversaw Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigated the hidden sources in the solving of the money that followed the Watergate theft, disclosed by President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary. It was considered a “third-rate theft attempt”, which led to Mr Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

At one point, Mr. Rosenfeld shielded two reporters from attempts to remove them from the story after the news’s far-reaching implications emerged. editor of the post, Benjamin C. Bradleetried to replace the duo’s nickname, “Woodstein,” with Post veterans dealing with government and politics.

As quoted in Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein’s book “All the President’s Men” – a line quoted by Jack Warden, who played Mr. Rosenfeld in the 1976 film version – Mr. Rosenfeld defended reporters by asking Mr. Bradlee a rhetorical question.

“They’re hungry,” he said. “Do you remember when you were hungry?”

The Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate publication. In an indelible moment, Nixon replies. To a question Mr Rosenfeld asked at a press conference with the editors in 1973, in which he declared that he had never profited from holding public office. “I’m not a cheater,” he said.

Mr. Rosenfeld’s work at The Post has been at The Herald Tribune in New York for 18 years, and beginning in 1988, he was the editor of the Hearst Corporation’s two Albany newspapers, The Times Union, and the afternoon Knickerbocker News. He was stuck in his tenure.

An immigrant fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany in his youth, Mr. Rosenfeld joined The Herald Tribune as a shipping clerk – a summer job before college – and was foreign editor when the newspaper closed in 1966. He retired from The Times Union in 1996. (Knickerbocker News ceased publication in 1988), but continued to add columns to the editorial page.

At The Post, the dynamics of presenting articles at story meetings were so strong that Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote in her review, “All the President’s Men.” New York Times Book Review In 1974, beyond the Watergate scandal, there is “an even stronger second story” told in the book – about the inner workings of a newspaper as editors “play the role of prosecutor and judge”.

“Reporters’ conversations with city editor Barry Sussman; metropolitan editor Harry Rosenfeld; Editor-in-chief Howard Simons and managing editor Benjamin Bradlee – for deciding which stories to print – are the best parts of the book,” wrote the editorial.

In his book “From Crystal Night to Watergate: A Journalist’s Memoirs” (2013), Mr Rosenfeld remembered At The Post he was proud to be “part of a team that took a mediocre newspaper and raised it to greatness”.

While the publisher of The Post, katharine grahamCalling him “a true hero of Watergate for us,” he left the newspaper in 1978 after being reassigned to edit the Outlook and Book World sections.

Yet twelve years ago he had shaken up decent Washington journalism with a tense New York sensibility that offended some of his colleagues. Some still point to the coverage of 14-year-old fugitive Debra (Muffin) Mattingly from Arlington, Va., whose boyfriend killed her father with a crowbar. Mr Rosenfeld assigned six reporters to the story and ran it for 18 months.

“I like to say that when The Herald Tribune closed and moved to the Washington Post, it brought brash New York enthusiasts to Washington before getting a decent bagel there,” said Peter Osnos, a former Post reporter and editor.

Hirsch (Harry) Moritz Rosenfeld was born on August 12, 1929, in Berlin, to Polish Jewish parents Sam Rosenfeld and Esther (Szerman) Rosenfeld. His father was a furrier. Although the family applied to immigrate to the United States as early as 1934, their application was not approved until March 1939, after the Nazis looted Jewish businesses and set the Rosenfeld family synagogue on fire.

Mr. Rosenfeld attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and earned a BA in American literature from Syracuse University in 1952. He served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 and later earned a master’s degree in history from Columbia University and in poetry from New York University. .

In addition to his daughter Amy, his wife Anne (Hahn) Rosenfeld, whom he married in 1953; two other daughters, Susan Rosenfeld Wachter and Stefanie Rosenfeld; and seven grandchildren.

As she recalls in her memoirs, there was no “clerk” among her ancestors, but she chose journalism as her dream job in her high school yearbook. In a career he says was influenced by his childhood under the Nazis, he “recognized a theme that underlies much of my journalistic work: to take accountability, the stronger the better.”


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