WASHINGTON — Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and influential Fox News commentator, died on Thursday. He was 68.
Krauthammer announced on June 8 that doctors had given him just weeks to live.
“This is the final verdict. My fight is over,” he wrote in a statement.
Krauthammer wrote that he had been recovering from surgery last year to remove a cancerous tumor in his abdomen, and while he has been “gradually making my way back to health,” recent tests showed that cancer has returned and was spreading rapidly.
He wrote, “I wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.”
Krauthammer was best known for his role as a panelist on “Special Report with Bret Baier” and as a commentator on Fox News, where he was known for his thought-provoking remarks, particularly about foreign policy, and his criticisms of the Obama administration, for “hesitation, delay and indecision.” He supported the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was no fan of President Trump, but also warned his detractors of succumbing to “Trump derangement syndrome.”
“R.I.P. good friend. I am sure you will be owning the panel discussion in heaven as well. And we’ll make sure your wise words and thoughts – your legacy – will live on here,” Baier wrote on Twitter.
Krauthammer had been a columnist for the Post since 1984, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1987, when the judges cited his “witty and insightful columns on national issues.”
At the time, he was just a few years into a new career as an opinion writer. He had joined the New Republic in 1981 and later started writing essays for Time, gaining attention for coining the phrase “Reagan Doctrine” to describe the administration’s efforts to counter the Soviets in the Cold War. He joined the Post in 1985.
His move into journalism was a career twist. Krauthammer had originally set out for a career in psychiatry, having gone to Harvard Medical School and practiced as chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital. Later, he worked on psychiatric research for President Jimmy Carter’s administration, and eventually became a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale.
He explained how he gravitated to politics in his 2013 collection, “Things That Matter.”
“Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything — high and low and, most especially, high — lives or dies by politics. You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933.”
Fox News called him the “dean of conservative commentators,” but he was willing to call out those in power no matter who was occupying the Oval Office.
Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News, said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and friend, Charles Krauthammer. 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 will air a one-hour special about Krauthammer’s life, “Charles Krauthammer: His Words,” on Friday at 9 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. ET. Baier, Brit Hume, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Fred Barnes, and George Will will offer their reflections.
Krauthammer was paralyzed from a diving accident during his first year at Harvard Medical School, but was adamant that the accident not define who he was.
When Krauthammer announced his grim prognosis in early June, Fox News’ Chris Wallace said that “in all the years I knew Charles, I never heard him express any sense of pity, why me. He led his life fully, vibrantly. Yes, he was very badly disabled. No use of his legs, almost no use of his hands, and yet he lived a full life. He had a car outfitted so he could drive the streets of Washington. He loved his Washington Nationals. He lived a life of passion and great consequence.”
Wallace also talked about Krauthammer’s “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 was born in New York on March 13, 1950, to a Ukrainian father and Belgian mother. His family moved to Montreal when he was young, and he later attended McGill University before pursuing a medical degree at Harvard.
In his statement earlier this month, Krauthammer wrote, “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.”