Remembering Charles Krauthammer, conservative giant

For decades a thought leader in the conservative movement, Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Krauthammer died yesterday at 68 from cancer of the small intestine. The longtime Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor was known as the dean of conservative commentators.

“By any measure, Dr. Krauthammer cut a singular profile in Washington’s journalistic and policymaking circles,” writes The Washington Post’s Adam Bernstein in a front-page obituary. Krauthammer graduated on time from Harvard Medical School despite a freak diving accident that left him a quadriplegic, but gave up his psychiatry practice for politics. He arrived in Washington in the late 1970s as a Democrat, but was enamored of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Krauthammer coined the phrase “the Reagan Doctrine,” and quickly became one of the most respected conservative voices in town, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1987. During the presidency of George W. Bush, Krauthammer was a leading supporter of the war in Iraq; he later became a fierce critic of Barack Obama. His ire cut across the political aisle: During the most recent presidential campaign, he referred to Donald Trump as a “rodeo clown.”

As news of Krauthammer’s death spread Thursday evening, tributes rolled in. “There are certain people whose death leaves behind a void that is impossible to fill,” wrote CNN’s Oliver Darcy. “Charles Krauthammer is one of them. An independent thinker, giant in intellectual conservatism, and a man who provoked reasoned debate. He was a class act until the end.” Time’s Nash Jenkins shared an unsolicited letter of support Krauthammer wrote to his Nash’s father after a spinal cord injury last year. Fox News broadcast a package on Krauthammer’s life and influence narrated by Bret Baier.

Two weeks ago, Krauthammer announced in The Washington Post that his cancer had returned, and that doctors had given him only weeks to live. His final published words were, “I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life—full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

Below, more on Krauthammer’s life and legacy.

  • In his own words: The Washington Post curated a selection of Krauthammer’s writing from among the 1,600 columns he published at the paper.

  • Remembrances: Charles Krauthammer made people understand their own thoughts,” writes John Podhoretz. “He was the most extraordinary person I have ever known.” In the Post, George Will writes about “The Charles Krauthammer I knew.”
  • An inspiration for those with disabilities: The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers focuses on an aspect of Krauthammer’s influence that often went unknown by those who read him in print of saw him seated behind a studio desk. “That Krauthammer accomplished all he did from a wheelchair is one piece of his legacy—and for me, a journalist with cerebral palsy, it is the piece that left the deepest impression,” Borchers writes.
  • At the ballpark: Krauthammer was a huge baseball fan, and his hometown Washington Nationals honored him with a moment of silence before Thursday night’s game.
  • Tonight: Fox News will air a special remembrance, “Charles Krauthammer: His Words,” at 9 pm ET featuring Krauthammer’s commentary and contributions from various Fox personalities.
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Other notable stories

  • A day after President Trump signed an executive order backtracking on his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, the focus has turned to those kids already in government custody. The New York Times’s Jack Healy writes that parents “were little closer to reuniting with the more than 2,300 children who have been taken from them under the administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ border enforcement policy.”
  • Media Matters’s Pam Vogel reports that Sinclair is forcing its networks to air commentary by Boris Epshteyn arguing that the outraged reaction to Trump’s border policy was “politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media.”
  • Ties between Trump and the tabloids are tighter than we knew, reports The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison. “National Enquirer executives sent digital copies of the tabloid’s articles and cover images related to Donald Trump and his political opponents to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in advance of publication,” Ellison writes.
  • CJR’s Sam Thielman provides a lesson in considering the source, digging into an opaque 501(c)4 called the Restaurant Workers of America “that regularly appears with restaurant industry trade groups and Republican politicians to praise the exception to the minimum wage that is made for tipped waiters and bartenders.” The group, Thielman finds, is funded by restaurant owners and appears to be a textbook example of “astroturfing.”
  • Michelle Alexander, perhaps America’s most prominent advocate for criminal justice reform, will join The New York Times opinion pages as a columnist beginning in September.
  • Less than a year after stepping down from Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter plans to launch his own media company, reports the New York Post’s Alexandra Steigrad. Carter’s vision is “rumored to be a multi-platform venture centering, at least at first, on wealthy and famous European families, including Britain’s royal family,” she reports.
  • Less than a month after cancelling “Roseanne” in the wake of its star’s racist tweets, ABC announced that it will air a spinoff series, “The Connors,” starring Barr’s TV family. “Roseanne Barr will have no financial or creative involvement in the new series,” according to the network.
  • Sports media nerdery: Heading into last night’s draft, the NBA and its broadcast partners reportedly agreed that journalists would refrain from tipping picks on social media before they were announced on television. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had other ideas. The consummate NBA insider danced around the directive by providing a steady stream of updates using every known euphemism for “will pick.” The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis writes that Woj was the real star of the evening.

ICYMI: Trump caves to sustained border coverage

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Pete Vernon is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.