Charles Krauthammer, a veteran Fox News contributor, author, essayist and Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist, died today of cancer in Washington, D.C., less than two weeks after he’d penned a letter saying he had weeks to live. He was 68.
Widely praised for his intellect, forcefulness and sharp wit, the Manhattan native had been a regular presence on Fox News’ Special Report since soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In a letter read on-air June 8 by Outnumbered host Sandra Smith, Krauthammer said he had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his abdomen and that it “caused a cascade of secondary complications” for which he has been hospitalized since. Recent tests revealed that the cancer had returned, he wrote.
He had been paralyzed since his spinal cord was severed in a diving-board accident in college in the early 1970s. It left him a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.
“I don’t like when they make a big thing about it,” Krauthammer said in a 1984 Washington Post interview. “And the worst thing is when they tell me how courageous I am. That drives me to distraction.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend, Charles Krauthammer,” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement. “A gifted doctor and brilliant political commentator, Charles was a guiding voice throughout his time with Fox News and we were incredibly fortunate to showcase his extraordinary talent on our programs. He was an inspiration to all of us and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife Robyn and his son Daniel.”
Fox News’ Chris Wallace said earlier this month: “I think the thing that I admired and admired most about Charles though is that in a world in which we all, there’s a tendency to fall into tribes here — in this camp or you’re in this camp — Charles’ camp was his honesty, his values, his conviction. He could be lacerating and going after the excesses of liberalism, he could be just as tough as going after the betrayals of his conservatism.”
Krauthammer, who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987, penned a weekly column that was syndicated to hundreds of publications at its peak. He once was a regular contributor to Time and was a speechwriter for then-Vice President Walter Mondale when Jimmy Carter was running for re-election against Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Krauthammer had been a Democrat but found himself agreeing with Reagan’s politics. In 1985, months after the president’s re-election, he wrote an essay for Time that was titled “The Reagan Doctrine.” The name stuck and has been associated with POTUS 40 since.
Financial Times once named Krauthammer, who also wrote for The New Republic and other publications, as the most influential commentator in America.
Before embarking on his career as a writer and pundit, he’d been a psychiatrist, serving as chief resident of the Psychiatric Consultation Service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston before leaving the profession.
In 2013, Crown Forum published Krauthammer’s memoir Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics. It held the No. 1 spot on The New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list for four weeks. It remained on that chart for more than nine months, ultimately selling more than 1 million copies.
At the end of his CNN show today, Wolf Blitzer said: “We lost a towering figure in journalism today. … His words and opinions helped shape American politics for decades.”
Here is the obituary Fox News aired today: