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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2012/ 26 Tishrei, 5773

They called him Punch

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | They called him Punch, and he earned the sobriquet. A Marine, he came home from serving in the Pacific theater, then in the Korean Conflict, to help run the family business, which in the case of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was the New York Times.

Imagine that -- somebody with a military background running the Times. Even harder to imagine these days, when the good gray New York Times has become as pretentious as it is ideological, is that it once had a publisher with a sense of humor. Punch Sulzberger used to say his family never worried about him when he was in the service -- "they knew that if I got shot in the head, it wouldn't do any harm." His death the other day at 86 brought back memories of a different time, and of a different Times.

Unassuming but forceful in his Semper Fi way, Punch Sulzberger took the helm at the Times on the sudden death of his brother-in-law in 1963, having spent the previous eight years in its executive suite, where, as he put it, he was "vice president in charge of nothing."

But when the job of publisher was thrust upon him, he had charge of everything. And exercised his authority with a rare combination of sound judgment, self-restraint and good humor.

After he took over, the Times began its transformation from the country's dull-gray paper of record to a compilation of different special sections with something for everybody. Under his guidance, the Times gave American journalism some of its finest moments. As a couple of landmark judicial decisions attest to this day:


  • Times v. Sullivan, handed down in 1964, revolutionized American libel law. It continues to shield this country's newspapers from lawsuits by public officials unless what we say is motivated by actual malice. The Bill of Rights is stronger for it.

  • New York Times v. U.S., better known as the Pentagon Papers case, made the news, and history, when it was decided in 1971. A history of American involvement in Vietnam, that dull chronicle should never have been classified in the first place. Keeping it secret had a lot more to do with political than national security.

The only thing that made the Pentagon Papers a best-seller was the hysteria it set off in the White House. But the Nixon administration, in the spirit of its namesake, had an unfortunate tendency toward paranoia. Which cost it -- and the country -- dearly, culminating in the avalanche of scandals that came to be known as the Watergate affair.

Through it all, Punch Sulzberger not only fought for freedom of the press but saved the Times to fight another day by keeping his eye on the bottom line, presiding over one of the most profitable periods of its history. At a time when newspapers are struggling for survival, it's good to remember they can not only survive but thrive. If they do, it will be because of publishers like Punch Sulzberger.

His time in the Marines was the formative, even transformative, experience in his life, which, looking back, he divided into before and after the Corps. He was no writer or editor, and had the surpassing good judgment to know it. Instead he was an executive of rare foresight and even vision.

Under his leadership, the Times went from reliable source to national institution. If only it could have been both. But in journalism, it's win some, lose some. As the Baltimore Orioles' legendary manager, Earl Weaver, said of baseball, "We play this game every day."

The Times' role as the country's trusted paper of record faded long ago. When its in-house critic, Arthur S. Brisbane, stepped down after two years in that job, he left with a parting shot, or rather several, at what the Times has become. Referring to today's Times, he noted in his final column that "the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds -- a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within."

As he put it, "a kind of political and cultural progressivism ... virtually bleeds through the fabric of the Times." Which explains why topics like Occupy Wall Street, homosexual marriage, and whether the Augusta National Golf Club will admit women are treated "more like causes than news subjects" in the Times' pages these days. And why a fighting publisher fittingly named Punch is so missed. In addition to a sense of humor, he had a sense of honor. Now the Times may be best known for its Pulitzer Prize-winning record for compromising national security. And instead of outraging a sitting president, now it flacks for him.

The role of family and of family heritage in the history of great American newspapers tends to be overlooked these days, when the spotlight is on star reporters and gossipy opinionators rather than workaday publishers who choose to continue the family tradition day after laborious day. That sense of duty, of noblesse oblige, used to come with the territory. Now it's thought of as a quaint, even oppressive, holdover from the past.

These days one newspaper empire after another is sold off because the next generation is no longer interested in running it. Which is sad, especially for the next generation of readers. But there are so many easier and more profitable ways to invest a fortune than fighting to keep a newspaper alive.

Punch Sulzberger was a now-rare phenomenon in this country: a publisher who understood the connection between great families and great newspapers. It's as if you can't have one without the other. And he drew the appropriate lesson. "My conclusion is simple," he once said, "Nepotism works." At least it does when a Punch Sulzberger is the heir.

Newspapers are the last, best and maybe only argument for absolute monarchy left in the world -- but only if the line of succession is respected, continued, and its burdens accepted, even embraced.

Punch Sulzberger's was a pre-Jason Blair Times, but it was already slipping into its current sad state, its editorials hopeless, its news coverage NPR in print, the whole package a growing swamp of political and cultural correctness. The deterioration of the good gray lady into some rouged creature wearing outfits much too young for her matched that of the pre-Giuliani city itself. But you could still find an occasional island of sanity in its pages, like Hilton Kramer's arts criticism.

Today its fact-filled, judgment-rich obituaries may be the last vestige of the redoubtable old Times. Its current ideological spirit comes closer to that of Walter Duranty, its infamous Moscow correspondent who covered up Stalin's crimes back in the 1920s and '30s, than to the integrity of its founder, the original Adolph Ochs. It was he who made the Times a respectable alternative to the yellow journalism of the Hearsts and Pulitzers of his 19th century day. Today it just gives such journalism an upper-middle-class gloss.

Punch Sulzberger did his best to hold back the murky tide. At one point he, who never messed with the editorial page, even insisted that the Times endorse Daniel Patrick Moynihan for the U.S. Senate, a judgment now ratified by history's. Pat Moynihan would go on to become the last intellectual in that now undistinguished body. Much like Punch Sulzberger himself, he would fight a losing battle against the rising tide of tarted-up mediocrity in American life.

The list of Pulitzer Prizes every year will never be complete till it includes one for outstanding publishers, for in the end it is the publisher who determines the quality and character of a newspaper. The way Punch Sulzberger did for a glorious time.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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