Harry Rosenfeld, Who Saw News in a ‘Third-Rate Burglary,’ Dies at 91

Harry M. Rosenfeld, who injected his brash model of journalism into The Washington Post, the place he oversaw the 2 reporters who remodeled a native crime story into the nationwide Watergate corruption scandal that toppled the Nixon administration, died on July 16 at his dwelling in upstate Slingerlands, N.Y. He was 91.

The trigger was problems of Covid-19, his daughter Amy Rosenfeld Kaufman mentioned.

As The Post’s assistant managing editor for metropolitan information, Mr. Rosenfeld instantly supervised Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they mined secretive sources in their follow-the-money unraveling of the Watergate break-in, which President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary had described as a “third-rate burglary attempt” and which led to Mr. Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

At one level Mr. Rosenfeld shielded the 2 reporters from makes an attempt to take away them from the story as soon as its broad implications turned obvious. The Post’s editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee, had sought to interchange “Woodstein,” because the duo had been nicknamed, with Post veterans steeped in authorities and politics.

As quoted in Mr. Woodward’s and Mr. Bernstein’s e book “All the President’s Men” — a line delivered by Jack Warden taking part in Mr. Rosenfeld in the 1976 film model — Mr. Rosenfeld defended the reporters by asking Mr. Bradlee a rhetorical query.

“They’re hungry,” he mentioned. “You remember when you were hungry?”

The Post received a Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate protection. In one indelible second, Nixon, responding to a query that Mr. Rosenfeld had posed at a information convention that the president held with editors in 1973, declared that he had by no means profited from holding public workplace. “I’m not a crook,” he mentioned.

Mr. Rosenfeld’s jobs at The Post had been sandwiched between 18 years at The Herald Tribune in New York and, starting in 1988, a lengthy tenure as editor of the Hearst Corporation’s two newspapers in Albany, The Times Union and the afternoon Knickerbocker News.

An immigrant who had fled Nazi persecution in Germany as a youth, Mr. Rosenfeld joined The Herald Tribune as a delivery clerk — a summer time job earlier than faculty — and was international editor when the paper folded in 1966. He retired from The Times Union in 1996 (the Knickerbocker News ceased publication in 1988), however continued to contribute columns to the editorial web page.

At The Post, the dynamics of pitching articles at story conferences had been so sturdy that Doris Kearns Goodwin, in her evaluate of “All the President’s Men” in The New York Times Book Review in 1974, wrote that past the Watergate scandal itself “there is a second even more powerful story” instructed in the e book — in regards to the internal workings of a newspaper because the editors “play the role of prosecutor and judge.”

“The reporters’ meetings with city editor Barry Sussman; metropolitan editor Harry Rosenfeld; managing editor Howard Simons, and executive editor Benjamin Bradlee — to decide which stories would go into print — are the best parts of the book,” she wrote.

In his e book “From Kristallnacht to Watergate: Memoirs of a Newspaperman” (2013), Mr. Rosenfeld recalled proudly that at The Post he was “part of a team that took a mediocre newspaper and elevated it to greatness.”

While The Post’s writer, Katharine Graham, referred to as him “a real hero of Watergate for us,” he left the paper in 1978 after he was reassigned to edit the Outlook and Book World sections, which he thought-about a downgrade.

Twelve years earlier, although, he had jolted journalism in decorous Washington with a nervy New York sensibility that made some colleagues uncomfortable. Some nonetheless level to the protection of Debra (Muffin) Mattingly, a 14-year-old runaway from Arlington, Va., whose boyfriend had bashed her father to dying with a crowbar. Mr. Rosenfeld assigned six reporters to the story and pursued it because it performed out for 18 months.

“I like to say that when The Herald Tribune closed and he moved to The Washington Post,” mentioned Peter Osnos, a former Post reporter and editor, “he brought brash New York savvy to Washington before you could get a decent bagel there.”

PictureJack Warden performed Mr. Rosenfeld in the 1976 movie “All the President’s Men,” right here with Robert Redford because the reporter Bob Woodward.Credit…Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Hirsch (Harry) Moritz Rosenfeld was born on Aug. 12, 1929, in Berlin to Jewish mother and father from Poland, Sam Rosenfeld and Esther (Szerman) Rosenfeld. His father was a furrier. Although the household utilized to to migrate to the United States as early as 1934, their utility was not accredited till March 1939, after the Nazis had ransacked Jewish-owned companies and torched the Rosenfeld household’s synagogue.

Mr. Rosenfeld went to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and earned a bachelor’s diploma in American literature from Syracuse University in 1952. He served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 and later did graduate work in historical past at Columbia University and in poetry at New York University.

In addition to his daughter Amy, he’s survived by his spouse, Anne (Hahn) Rosenfeld, whom he married in 1953; two different daughters, Susan Rosenfeld Wachter and Stefanie Rosenfeld; and 7 grandchildren.

There was not a “scrivener” amongst his ancestors, he recalled in his memoir, however in his highschool yearbook he selected journalism as his dream occupation. In a profession that he mentioned had been influenced by his childhood below the Nazis, he “discerned a theme underpinning much of my journalistic labors: holding to account the accountable, the more powerful the better.”