Max Frankel (born April 3, 1930) is an American journalist.
Life and career
Frankel was born in Gera, Germany. He was an only child, and his family belonged to a tiny Jewish minority in the area. Hitler came to power when Frankel was three years old, and Frankel remembered Germany's racial tensions: "[I] could have become a good little Nazi in his army. I loved the parades; I wept when other kids marched beneath our window without me. But I was ineligible for the Aryan race, the Master Race that Hitler wanted to purify of Jewish blood…"
He came to the United States in 1940. He attended the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan, class of 1948. He attended Columbia College, and began part-time work for The New York Times in his sophomore year. He received his BA degree in 1952 and an MA in American government from Columbia in 1953.
He joined The Times as a full-time reporter in 1952. After serving in the Army from 1953 to 1955, he returned to the local staff until he was sent overseas in November, 1956, to help cover stories arising from the Hungarian revolution. From 1957 to 1960 he was one of two Times correspondents in Moscow. After a brief tour in the Caribbean, reporting mostly from Cuba, he moved to Washington in 1961, where he became diplomatic correspondent in 1963 and White House correspondent in 1966.
Frankel was chief Washington correspondent and head of the Washington bureau from 1968 to 1972, then Sunday editor of The Times until 1976, editor of the editorial page from 1977 to 1986 and executive editor from 1986 to 1994. He wrote a Times Magazine column on the media from 1995 until 2000.
He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for coverage of Richard Nixon's trip to the People's Republic of China. He is also remembered as being the journalist who asked President Gerald Ford about Soviet domination in Eastern Europe during the second presidential debate of 1976. Some credit Ford's response to the question (replying that there was "no Soviet domination" of eastern Europe) as costing him the election.
On November 14, 2001, in the 150th anniversary issue, The New York Times ran an article by the then retired Frankel reporting that before and during World War II, the Times had as a matter of policy largely, though not entirely, ignored reports of the annihilation of European Jews. Frankel called it "the century's bitterest journalistic failure."
Frankel is the author of the book High Noon in the Cold War - Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Cuban Missiles Crisis (Ballantine, 2004 and Presidio 2005) and, also, his memoir, The Times of My Life and My Life with the Times (Random House, 1999, and Delta, 2000).
Frankel and the late Tobia Brown had three children—David, Margot and Jon. He was married again in 1988 to Joyce Purnick, a Times columnist and editor. They live in New York City.