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David Rosenbaum

David Rosenbaum was an award-winning American journalist and editor with the New York Times (1968-2005). He was best known for the Times feature, The Fine Print, in which he exposed hidden, perplexing or hypocritical aspects of legislation that was pending or had just passed.

His death helped focus attention on the woefully inadequate, indifferent and improper treatment offered by some Washington, D.C. paramedics and hospital emergency room workers.

David Rosenbaum
David Rosenbaum
Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: March 1, 1942, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

Date, time, place and cause of death: January 8, 2006, at 7:10 p.m., Howard University Hospital, Washington, D.C. (Murdered - Head injuries sustained in a street robbery) *

Spouse: Virginia K. Rosenbaum

Son: Daniel Rosenbaum (a photographer with the Washington Times)
Daughter: Dorothy "Dottie" Rosenbaum

Error corrections or clarifications

* A couple of sources erroneously report he died "January 7, 2006." In point of fact, David Rosenbaum died January 8, 2006, at 7:10 p.m., at Howard University Hospital, in Washington, D.C.


A Florida native, David Rosenbaum was born March 1st, 1942, in Miami, and raised in Tampa. In 1963, he earned his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and two years later received his master's in journalism from Columbia University.

He spent some time working for various publications such as the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, and Congressional Quarterly, before beginning his long career with the New York Times.

He joined the Washington bureau of the New York Times in 1968 and remained with that paper until his retirement. Though he served a three-year stint in the early '80s as special projects editor for the Times in New York, it was his career at the Washington bureau for which he was best known. While there he held a number of top positions including business editor, assistant news editor, chief economics correspondent, chief domestic policy correspondent and chief Congressional correspondent. Even those who may not readily recall his work, often remember his widely-read feature, The Fine Print. The popular feature exposed hidden, perplexing or hypocritical aspects of legislation that was pending or had just passed.

His coverage of the 1990 federal budget battles in which President George Bush abandoned his famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" pledge not to institute any new taxes, won Rosenbaum the 1990 George Polk Award for national reporting. He shared the honor with Susan Rasky, a fellow reporter at the New York Times.

Rosenbaum's insightful coverage of politics, economics and government policy earned him frequent praise. "David was one of the most accomplished journalists of his generation in Washington," Philip Taubman, New York Times' bureau chief reported.

For over a quarter of a century he served as a member of the steering committee of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The organization works to protect the First Amendment, reporters' legal rights and provides free legal assistance to journalists.

After nearly four decades at the New York Times he'd become a beloved fixture at their Washington bureau. Though he retired in December of 2005, he retained his old desk and planned to continue contributing occasional articles.

Less than a month after his retirement, David E. Rosenbaum was robbed and beaten while taking an after-dinner walk around his upscale District of Columbia neighborhood. January 6, 2006, he was found semiconscious on a sidewalk in the 3800 block of Gramercy Street NW.

The severe injuries he suffered in the mugging were likely exacerbated by an incredible series of errors made by paramedics and hospital emergency room workers. Paramedics not only failed to properly assess his condition, but in complete disregard for the needs of their patient, they bypassed the closest hospital so one of the EMTs could attend to a personal matter at home. Once at the hospital, Rosenbaum remained unattended on a gurney for more than an hour. Even after his examination they failed to properly evaluate his injuries. Nurses reported they couldn't read the sloppy handwriting of the doctor who'd written orders detailing his treatment. Nearly four hours passed before he received a neurological evaluation. The level of medical care he received was appropriately and succinctly described as "Third World service." In reference to the bungled care David received after being robbed and beaten over the head with a pipe, Marcus Rosenbaum, a senior editor at National Public Radio and David's younger brother said, "everything they could have screwed up, they screwed up." Various official investigations and reviews agreed with that conclusion.

The Washington, D.C. Office of the Inspector General investigated the actions of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS), the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Howard University Hospital, regarding their response in the Rosenbaum case. They concluded that there was an unacceptable chain of failures in the provision of emergency medical and other services to Mr. Rosenbaum as required by FEMS, MPD, and Howard University Hospital protocols. It further determined that, "individuals who played critical roles in providing these services failed to adhere to applicable policies, procedures, and other guidance from their respective employers. These multiple individual failures during the Rosenbaum emergency suggest alarming levels of complacency and indifference which, if systemic, could undermine the effective, efficient, and high quality delivery of emergency services to District residents and visitors."

Within days of David Rosenbaum's attack, Percy Jordan, Jr. and Michael Hamlin were in custody and charged with the crime. Michael C. Hamlin was originally charged with first-degree murder, but later agreed to a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified against his cousin and co-defendant. Hamlin was sentenced to 26 years behind bars for his part in the violent attack. October 24th, 2006, a jury convicted Percy Jordan, Jr. of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery of a senior citizen. In January 2007, he was sentenced to 65 years in prison.

Tragically, David's wife of 39 years died just a few months after he was killed. Virginia Rosenbaum died of colon cancer June 22, 2006. Like her husband, "Ginny" began her career as a journalist in Florida. She later became an influential research analyst, author and editor known for her expertise on the subjects of governance-related shareholder proposals and corporate takeover defenses.

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