Terrible news from Washington: veteran New York Times political reporter David E. Rosenbaum died yesterday after being beaten in a robbery on Friday night near his D.C. home. According to the Times, Mr. Rosenbaum died of a brain injury due to a blow to his head sustained in the course of the robbery.
Washington Bureau chief Philip Taubman called Mr. Rosenbaum “an all-time great, versatile reporter who could tackle any subject.
“David was one of the most accomplished journalists of his generation in Washington,” he told the Washington Post. “He could do anything, and he did so many things brilliantly.” Todd Purdum, who left the Washington bureau at the end of last year, wrote the story in the Times and said Mr. Rosenbaum “wrote about the intersection of politics, economics and government policy with uncommon depth, clarity and a keen eye for the story behind the story.”
Mr. Rosenbaum, 63, joined the Washington bureau in 1968. His career began with Richard Nixon‘s presidency; according to the NYT archives, he published his first story with the paper on November 7, 1968, about the character of the Senate following the Republican victory in the election. It was on the front page.
During his career he held a number of correspondent and editorial posts at the Washington bureau, also spending a three-year stint at the New York office. He covered Watergate, Iran-Contra, directed coverage of the most recent New Hampshire primaries and more recently covered Bush’s proposed Social Security restructuring. In 1990, he won the inaugural George Polk Award for national reporting, with Susan F. Rasky. He retired last month after opting to take a Times‘ buyout package, but had planned to continue contributing to the paper.
Mr. Rosenbaum is survived by his wife, two children, two grandchildren, and his brother. We send our deepest condolences to the Times and to Mr. Rosenbaum’s family.
Update: Below please find the note sent by Phil Taubman to the Washington Bureau last night, as well as the front page marking Mr. Rosenbaum’s first story following the election of 1968.
“Senate’s Liberal Coalition Survives Gains by G.O.P.; Liberal Coalition Survives in Senate,” by David E. Rosenbaum, above.
Update: Here is the note that Phil Taubman sent to the Washington Bureau last night. It includes a quote from Bill Keller.
I’m heartbroken to report that David Rosenbaum died today from
the head injuries he absorbed on Friday night when he was mugged not far from his home. David suffered irreversible brain damage from the blow.
The sudden, shocking nature of this news is almost too much to
comprehend. David, who was 63, had just opened a new phase in his life, and only hours before the attack was telling colleagues in the bureau about the family vacation he was planning later this winter and how much he relished the freedom and opportunities that came with retirement.
David was one of the most gifted, energetic and accomplished
Washington correspondents of his generation. In a biographical sketch that David wrote shortly before his retirement, he said, “To the extent I have a specialization, it is in the intersection of economics, politics and government policy.” That was a modest way of saying what everyone in Washington knew: No one covered policy and politics better than David Rosenbaum.
That was partly because David was a tireless and skilled reporter and a lucid writer. David was one of the best thinkers and clearest writers in our business. But what made David so special was the insatiable intellectual curiosity that he brought to the most recondite subjects. David didn’t just cover the budget, or Social Security, or taxes or any of the other issues he tracked. He studied them and mastered them. And he was passionate about them.
Over the decades that David worked for The Times — 1968-2005
— he applied those skills and instincts to a remarkable range of stories, serving as chief congressional correspondent, chief domestic policy correspondent, chief economics correspondent, assistant Washington news editor and Washington business editor. He won the George Polk Award for national reporting in 1990. He covered the Watergate hearings in the Nixon years, tax reform and the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan presidency and many of the budget and tax battles of the 1990’s and most recent years.
He also wrote smartly about campaign politics. David was a model for many Washington reporters, at The Timesn and at other news organizations. David loved to share his knowledge. And he was a wise and good friend to his colleagues. The calls and e-mail messages that I fielded from fellow journalists over the weekend were further proof of that.
“David was part of an increasingly scarce breed of Washington
reporter who is immune to flattery and access,” Bill Keller said of David on Sunday. “He was fascinated by how the place works, but was never seduced by it.”
David’s wife, Ginny, and their children, Dorothy and Daniel,
and a host of other family members gathered round David over the weekend at Howard University Hospital. It was an agonizing time, compounded by the wanton, senseless crime that had so suddenly felled David. They surrounded David with love and memories of a wonderful, happy, productive life. They, and all of us, will keep those memories alive.