Rosenfeld, editor for Post’s Watergate coverage, dies at 91


ALBANY, N.Y. — Harry M. Rosenfeld, a longtime newspaper editor who helped guide the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal, died Friday at age 91.

Rosenfeld had been in declining health since contracting COVID-19 in December and recently had heart issues. He died at his home in suburban Albany at about 4 a.m. Friday, said his wife Anne Rosenfeld.

Harry Rosenfeld, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy, was editor of the Times Union of Albany from 1978 to 1994 and remained active as an editor-at-large.

He was assistant managing editor for metropolitan news at the Post, where he guided day-to-day coverage of Watergate starting with the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.

“Rosenfeld runs the metropolitan staff, the Post’s largest, like a football coach,” Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote in “All the President’s Men.” “He prods his players, letting them know that he has promised the front office results, pleading, yelling, cajoling, pacing, working his facial expressions for instant effects — anger, satisfaction, concern.”

The pair wrote that his “natural distrust of reporters was particularly acute on the Watergate story,” where he had to place unprecedented faith in the young reporters in a story with great risks.

The newspaper’s coverage of Watergate earned it the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Rosenfeld was later portrayed in the movie version of “All the President’s Men” by Jack Warden.

The scandal led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Rosenfeld was born Hirsch Moritz Rosenfeld in Berlin on Aug. 12, 1929, to Polish immigrants. Rosenfeld recalled in his memoir taking shelter in the Polish Embassy in Berlin during Kristallnacht, the violent November 1938 assault against Jews, and walking amid shattered store windows the next morning, according to the Times Union.

The family emigrated to the United States the next year and settled in the Bronx. He studied journalism at Syracuse University and worked at the New York Herald Tribune after serving in the Army.

He left the Post to run the Times Union and its smaller afternoon sibling, the Knickerbocker News, which closed in 1988.

In addition to his wife, Rosenfeld is survived by daughters Susan Wachter, Amy Kaufman and Stefanie Rosenfeld as well as seven grandchildren.

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