Anthony Lewis, Retired New York Times Columnist, Dies at 85

Jewish Scribe Was Champion and Critic of U.S. Legal System

Anthony Lewis, a retired New York Times columnist, has died at 85.
getty images
Anthony Lewis, a retired New York Times columnist, has died at 85.

By Reuters

Published March 25, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Anthony Lewis, both a champion and a critic of the U.S. legal system and press rights in a newspaper career spanning more than 50 years, died at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday. He was 85.

A retired New York Times reporter and columnist who won two Pulitzer prizes, Lewis died of complications of heart failure and renal failure, said his daughter Mia Lewis. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

He joined the Times in 1948 and, with the exception of a three-year stint at a Washington daily, spent his entire career at the newspaper, serving as London bureau chief and penning the “Abroad at Home” and “At Home Abroad” columns for more than three decades. He retired in 2001.

During his years as a columnist, Lewis took a number of positions at odds with his friends and colleagues, including criticizing Israel’s relations with the Palestinian territories and questioning how much liberty the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gave the U.S. press to protect anonymous sources.

His views on the First Amendment, while sometimes unpopular with colleagues, grew out of the respect the Bronx, New York-born reporter developed for the judiciary while covering the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1960s, recalled a former colleague.

“In his later years he turned a little bit against the press, which he loved. But he disagreed with those of us who felt that we couldn’t just trust the courts to defend our freedom,” said Max Frankel, who worked side-by-side with Lewis in the Times’ Washington bureau early in his career and rose to become executive editor of the paper before he retired in 1995.

‘IDEALIZATION OF THE COURT’

After retiring from the Times, Lewis spoke out in favor of a 2005 court decision to jail New York Times reporter Judith Miller for 85 days over her refusal to reveal the source that had helped her to publicly identify a CIA agent.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.