David Rosenbaum, Retired NYT Reporter, Murdered

NYT reporter David Rosenbaum died Sunday from a blow to the head during a Friday night mugging.

David E. Rosenbaum, a retired reporter and editor for The New York Times who for more than 35 years wrote about the intersection of politics, economics and government policy with uncommon depth, clarity and a keen eye for the story behind the story, died Sunday. He was 63. His death was caused by a brain injury suffered when he was struck in the head and robbed Friday night while walking near his home in Northwest Washington, police officials and his family members said.

Mr. Rosenbaum served at various times as chief Congressional correspondent, chief domestic policy correspondent, chief economics correspondent, assistant news editor and business editor in the Washington bureau of The Times. For years, he was the specialist of an occasional Times feature called The Fine Print, which dissected hidden, confusing or hypocritical details of legislation that was pending or just passed.

Mr. Rosenbaum joined The Times in 1968 after working at The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, a chain of suburban newspapers in London and Congressional Quarterly, and he worked in the Washington bureau for all but three years in the early 1980’s when he was the paper’s special projects editor in New York. He retired last month, but kept his old desk, and planned to keep contributing articles to the paper about politics and politicians.

“He was a reporter with a deep understanding of policy, and of the interaction between policy and politics,” said Robert D. Reischauer, the former head of the Congressional Budget Office and a frequent news source. “All of us tend to speak in jargon. He would say: ‘Come on! Explain it, explain.’ He would get enough from several of us to then turn it into something the average reader would find understandable and interesting. He was one who wanted to peel back the layers of the onion from the smooth and superficial that the spinmeisters would like us to think is the real world, to the core that makes your eyes start to cry.”

Mr. Rosenbaum shared the George Polk Award for national reporting for his coverage of the 1990 budget deal in which the first President George Bush abandoned his pledge not to raise taxes. He covered a sweeping range of other long-running stories, from the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973 to the Iran-contra hearings of 1987 to more recent debates over trade, taxes, tobacco, energy, Medicare and Social Security.

A shame.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.