Charles Krauthammer, the long-time conservative columnist, who forged a much-honored career as a Pulitzer Prize winning scribe and commentator widely regarded for his intellect after being confined to a wheelchair, is dead at the age of 68.
Fox News, where he was a pundit, confirmed Krauthammer’s death in a statement, saying, “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.” Brit Hume, the Fox News political analyst, tweeted, “Terribly sad news. The great Charles Krauthammer has died.” What was his cause of death? Cancer of the small intestine, a diagnosis he revealed in a moving final column.
Krauthammer comes from a fascinating and accomplished family that survived the horrors of World War II. “I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Charles Krauthammer Recently Announced That The End Was Near
In a moving column, Krauthammer recently announced that he had only weeks to live.
Krauthammer, 68, penned an article on June 8, 2018, in which he revealed that he had cancer and was not expected to live more than a few weeks. The announcement came in a “note to readers” in The Washington Post. “I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me,” Krauthammer wrote.
“Recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.”
Krauthammer won many awards during his career. He was awarded the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. His column in the Post started appearing in the 1980s, and he won a National Magazine award as an essayist. A Post editorial page editor called his column “independent and hard to peg politically. It’s a very tough column. There’s no ‘trendy’ in it. You never know what is going to happen next.”
Krauthammer told The Post of column writing, “Much of it has to do with common sense. One of my many missions is putting up a first-line defense against the various enthusiasms of the age – everything from the nuclear freeze to identity politics to the ‘recovered memory’ movement – which tend to roll over the culture at regular intervals.” He was also trained as a psychiatrist and was an author. He was credited with coming up with the term “The Reagan doctrine” and was known for his logical approach to commentary in an emotional age. At times, he criticized everyone from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.
According to USA Today, along the way, he “helped guide psychiatric research in President Jimmy Carter’s administration” and wrote speeches for Walter Mondale. He wrote for The New Republic, Time Magazine, and other publications. The “Reagan Doctrine” was coined “in a famed essay that applauded and explained Reagan’s strategy with the Soviet Union after the Cold War,” USA Today reported. His columns and stances were not without controversy. The Post also noted that he “helped lay the ideological groundwork for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.”
2. Charles Krauthammer Leaves Behind a Lawyer Wife, to Whom He Was Married Since the 1970s
Charles Krauthammer’s wife is named Robyn Krauthammer. In an interview with C-Span, Krauthammer said he was attending Balliol College at Oxford when he met his future wife. “…it had a graduate dormitory, which in 1970, when I was there, was the only one in town that was coed, that was its highest distinction. And that’s where I met my wife who was a student at St. Anne’s,” he explained.
Charles said that his wife was a lawyer but she gave that job up. “She was studying law. She practiced law for a while. And then in July of 1978, I quit medicine and she quit law on the same day. And she has been an artist, a painter and sculptor ever since,” he told C-Span in the 2005 interview.
As is well known, Krauthammer has been in a wheelchair most of his life. That occurred when he was 22 and in medical school, and Krauthammer was in a diving accident that resulted in a broken neck, according to The Washington Post. The Post reports that the Krauthammers weren’t married yet when the accident occurred, but it didn’t deter their relationship. His wife, who was born in Australia, began writing to him and then came to see him, sparking their relationship, which has lasted decades. They married in 1974.
3. The Couple Has a Son, Daniel, Together & He’s Also a Writer
Robyn and Charles Krauthammer have one son together. His name is Daniel Krauthammer.
Like his father, Daniel is very well-educated and is a writer. According to his LinkedIn page, Daniel Krauthammer is involved in “technology, strategy & policy” in the San Francisco Bay area. He has degrees from Stanford University Graduate School of Business; in Financial Economics from Oxford University; and in Social Studies from Harvard University.
He lists himself as an independent writer and producer, as a contributing writer in economics, finance, and world affairs, and as VP of Business Operations for Radpad, and he was previously employed in Product Management and Analysis for Google Ideas. Daniel also worked an an economic policy analyst on the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. He has written for the Weekly Standard.
4. Krauthammer’s Father Was a Lawyer Who Spoke Nine Languages & Fought With the French Army During WW2
In the interview with C-Span, Krauthammer also opened up about his parents. At that time, in 2005, his mother was still alive but his father was not. He described what he said was an “epic story” caught up in the horrors – and humanity – of the Second World War.
“It’s a rather epic story, my father was originally from Ukraine but he lived in France most of his life,” said Krauthammer of his dad. “A naturalized Frenchman… he went to law school there, was a lawyer. During the war, World War II, he fought with the French army, you know that only lasted six weeks. Afterwards he went to Cuba and Brazil, back to France, America, where I born, and ultimately to Canada, where I grew up.”
Krauthammer told C-Span that his dad spoke nine languages and “by the real end of his life he was speaking them all at the same time. So …I would interpret on his behalf. Whenever he needed a word he would pull it out of any language he could find, even if his interlocutor had no idea what he was talking about. It was very charming.”
His dad was named Shulim Krauthammer. For a time, reports The Washington Post, he sold mushrooms throughout Europe and later went into real estate. Krauthammer is Jewish and from a Jewish family but has described himself as a religious skeptic.
Krauthammer also spoke about his mother during the C-Span interview, saying, “My dad at the time was running a diamond factory, which was producing industrial diamonds for the U.S. military. My mom was visiting her parents, who didn’t get into America, didn’t have a visa, but ended up in Cuba, as a lot of Jews did. And she met him at the Hotel Internacional and the rest is journalistic history and a lot of other history.”
He said that his mother was from Belgium but left that country on “May the 10th 1940, which is the day the Germans invaded, made her way through France, ended up in New York working for the Free French, translating American Army manuals into French for the Free French. Met my father in Cuba, long story, and she now lives in New York and in Miami.”
The Washington Post reported that Krauthammer was born in New York and “grew up in Montreal speaking French at home with a father of Austro-Hungarian birth and a Belgian-born Jewish mother.” The Post quoted the columnist as saying of his mom: “She was three steps ahead of the Nazis.”
5. Tributes Flowed in for The Columnist
As news of Krauthammer’s death spread on the early evening of June 21, 2018, tributes started to flow in. He was praised for his intelligence.
The tributes came from the well-known and from regular fans of Krauthammer’s work.
Krauthammer’s colleagues at Fox News also offered tributes to him.
You can learn more about Daniel Krauthammer here: