AP News

Media leaders, others react to death of Sulzberger


Reaction to the death of former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who died Saturday:

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"Punch, the old Marine captain who never backed down from a fight, was an absolutely fierce defender of the freedom of the press. His inspired leadership in landmark cases such as New York Times v. Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers helped to expand access to critical information and to prevent government censorship and intimidation." — Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., Sulzberger's son and the current publisher of the Times.

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"As an editor you knew that if you went to the publisher and sought his support on an issue that you deemed to be of high importance you could pretty much count on getting it. He knew how to back his people. ... As well as a publisher and a colleague he was a good friend. The last years have been extremely difficult with his health problems. He bore them with great courage. I admired him hugely." — Former Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld.

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"It was Punch Sulzberger who made the decision to resist the government's effort. In making that decision he set in motion a litigation which not only preserved but protected the First Amendment for generations. It was Punch Sulzberger who decided that this was a case that had to be fought. That decision was one that will be honored among not only journalists but future generations of Americans." — Floyd Abrams, the lawyer who represented the Times in the Pentagon Papers case.

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"He was a firm believer in the importance of a free and independent press — one that isn't afraid to seek the truth, hold those in power accountable, and tell the stories that need to be told." — President Barack Obama.

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"Thanks to Arthur Sulzberger's leadership and his ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of challenging industry dynamics, The New York Times has remained a cultural touchstone and a dynamic global enterprise for decades. Arthur was a great New Yorker and a luminary in one of our city's biggest industries, and his loss will be felt by many. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and relatives as well as the larger New York Times family." — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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"It also became increasingly clear that the system of monarchy helped save the New York Times as a great newspaper. Punch made some bad calls as a businessman, along with some great ones, but by far the most important fact about him and his family was that they never wavered in their commitment to great journalism." — Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.

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"If you weren't around then, you forget the unbelievable outrage that greeted those sections. But in retrospect it was the right decision both editorially and economically." — Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, on Sulzberger's move to expand the Times to sections such as Living and Weekend.

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"Punch Sulzberger was a giant in the industry, a leader who fought to preserve the vital role of a free press in society and championed journalism executed at the highest level." — Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt.

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"With enormous power and authority he was as humble a person as you could ever meet. ... People with enormous power often dominate a room. He did not. And yet the power and authority was there." — Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

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"He was a very approachable person. He was a little shy. ... You saw him in the elevator and he talked to anybody and everybody." — Gay Talese, former Times reporter and author of "The Kingdom and the Power: Behind the Scenes at The New York Times."

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"I found him always a gentleman and always ready to at least listen." — Public relations maven Howard Rubenstein, who brought many clients to meet with Sulzberger and Times editors.


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