On Jan. 13, Mike Hurewitz-a longtime reporter for the New York Post who spent the last eight
years at The Times Union of Albany -died
at Mount Sinai Hospital following surgery to donate part of his liver to
his ailing brother.
Two months later, on March 12, the New York State Department of
Health faulted Mount Sinaiin Mr. Hurewitz’s death. The D.O.H. charged Mount
Sinai with 18 violations and $48,000 in fines for what it deemed inadequate
post-operative care, and banned the hospital from performing liver transplants
from live donors for six months. The
Times Union itself broke the story of the D.O.H.’s findings.
Both The Times Union
and the D.O.H. said the fact that Mr. Hurewitz was a reporter had nothing to do
with the state’s action following his death. But long before the state
announced its penalty for Mount Sinai, there was communication between the
health department’s highest-ranking official and the newspaper-and an explicit
acknowledgment that the D.O.H. was on the case.
Two days after Mr. Hurewitz’s death, on Jan. 15, The Times Union ‘s managing editor, Rex
Smith, received a call from Dr. Antonia Novello, the commissioner for the New
York State Department of Health. Ms. Novello had been in The Times Union ‘s offices only a few weeks prior, when she’d spoken
to the paper’s editorial board. Though not a member of the board, Mr. Smith had
sat in on the meeting. Now he was listening to Ms. Novello speak to more
serious concerns as she offered her condolences.
Ms. Novello had read Mr. Hurewitz’s obituary in The Times Union , and the D.O.H. had
received a report of his death. Though she hadn’t known Mr. Hurewitz, Ms.
Novello liked his work she said.
Once she’d finished speaking, Ms. Novello remembered Mr. Smith
asking, “What are you doing about it?”
“I don’t remember saying it,” Mr. Smith said when a reporter
asked him to recollect the conversation. “But it’s something I would have
asked. I’ve spent more of my life as a reporter than an editor. It’s a logical
question to ask the head of a regulatory agency: what you’re going to do about
a regulatory problem.”
That day, the hospital had voluntarily suspended its transplant
program. The following day, Jan. 16, the D.O.H. sent investigators to Mount
At the time of his death, Mr. Hurewitz was 57 years old. He died,
the initial reports said, due to complications following transplant surgery
that gave his brother Adam 60 percent of his liver. However, on March 12, the
D.O.H. announced that three days after his Jan. 10 surgery, Mr. Hurewitz had
been one of 34 patients in the Mount Sinai transplant unit being attended to by
a lone inexperienced resident. Vomiting blood at first, Mr. Cohen would later
inhale and choke on it, losing consciousness at 3:10 p.m. before dying at 3:40
After their initial conversation in January, Mr. Smith didn’t
hear from Ms. Novello again until the early afternoon of March 11. But the
paper had been aggressively following the story. The Times Union ‘s health
reporter, Sylvia Wood, heard from her sources that the D.O.H. was ready to come
down hard on Mount Sinai for Mr. Hurewitz’s death. Indeed, that morning at 11
a.m., the D.O.H. had faxed its findings to the hospital. That day, Ms. Novello
and her staff also met with Mr. Hurewitz’s widow, Victoria, to discuss the
On March 11, Ms. Novello called to tell Mr. Smith the findings of
her department’s investigation. She said they’d be announced in a press
conference in New York the next day. According to Mr. Smith, she described Mr.
Hurewitz’s experience as a “‘Space Odyssey’ operation and a Third World
follow-up.” This meant, he said, that the transplant itself had gone perfectly,
and that it was in the post-operative period that the hospital screwed up.
During the call, Mr. Smith took notes and inserted some of those
quotes into Ms. Wood’s story.
“These are high-impact quotes from a journalistic standpoint,”
Mr. Smith said, adding, “I think it’s good that an agency head takes personal
interest in an investigation like this.”
Still, neither The Times
Union nor Ms. Novello felt that Mr. Hurewitz’s case had been handled
differently because of his occupation. Ms. Novello said that Mr. Hurewitz’s job
as a reporter was “adjunct to the case” and that the department would have
investigated the matter regardless, since it involved the death of a transplant
patient. A D.O.H. spokesperson pointed to the department’s rigor in pursuing
cases of hospital neglect. Ms. Novello also insisted that the paper didn’t
petition on behalf of Mr. Hurewitz’s family.
“We never would have allowed it,” Ms. Novello said.
Jeff Cohen, editor of The
Times Union , put it this way: “We contacted the D.O.H. as reporters; I
didn’t contact them on behalf of Vicki. Now, the D.O.H. did call us, but we
speak to them all the time. We’re Albany. We have a different relationship
because we cover them everyday.”
Further, Mr. Cohen said, it was that relationship-not Mr.
Hurewitz’s relationship to the paper-which allowed The Times Union to break the story on the misconduct of Mount Sinai
on March 12. He said that by the weekend, his reporter had obtained the story
from her sources, and that by Monday, March 11, it was in “good enough shape”
to appear in the next day’s paper. Moreover, Mr. Cohen disputed a claim in the
March 13 issue of The New York Times ,
which stated that Mrs. Hurewitz had given The
Times Union the D.O.H. report.
“The Times story was
incorrect,” Mr. Cohen said. “We didn’t get that information from Vicki. We
don’t know where they got that.”
Ms. Hurewitz did not return a call for comment in this matter;
and when reached, The Times ‘ Denise
Grady, who wrote the story, said: “My understanding was that the report was
given to [Ms. Hurewitz] over the weekend by Novello, and it was her choice to
give The Times Union an exclusive
since [Mr. Hurewitz] worked there, and she had great ties and loyalties to the
place. I could have misunderstood.”
No one at The Times Union
took any pleasure in the paper’s scoop, however. A gross act of negligence had
been uncovered, but a news operation had lost one of its most beloved
reporters, a wife had lost a husband, and a man had lost his only brother.
“He was really a mensch ,”
Mr. Cohen said of Mr. Hurewitz. “He was someone we wanted other reporters to
emulate. We’d sit young reporters down next to him so they’d follow his
example. He was a selfless, decent man, and he died being selfless and decent.
It’s hard for me to think of any good to come from this.”
Now that it’s held two memorial services for Daniel
Pearl, The Wall Street Journal is planning a more permanent tribute to the
This summer, The Journal, in conjunction with the Free
Press publishing house, will release an anthology of Mr. Pearl’s reporting.
Edited by Mr. Pearl’s friend and WSJ
reporter Helene Cooper, the book will include 50 of his pieces from his time in
the United States and abroad, with an introduction by his widow, Mariane. All
profits will go to the Daniel Pearl Memorial Trust established by Dow Jones,
the paper’s parent company.
During his tenure at The
Journal , Mr. Pearl wrote 47 front-page stories and 47 stories that appeared
on the cover of the paper’s Marketplace section. WSJ deputy managing editor Stephen Adler said the book will try to
touch on all aspects of Mr. Pearl’s career, including stories on child beauty
pageants in Georgia and on an Iranian town making the world’s largest carpet.
“Reading them,” Mr. Adler said, “you get the sense of someone
sick of authority, someone who’s ironic and who’s got a sense of humor.”
In addition, the anthology will feature anecdotes from editors
and co-reporters on the stories, and will likely include the e-mail
correspondence that Mr. Pearl had with his WSJ
“We wanted it not just to be a record of his writing,” Mr. Adler
said, “but of what his life was like at The
Journal , and what it was like working with him.”
After some months of
cryptic feints, The New York Sun decided
to lift the veil on its plans with a pair of press releases on March 19
describing the five-day-a-week paper. Here’s what we now know:
The Sun will publish
its first issue on Tuesday, April 16. The paper, which will cost 50 cents on
the newsstand, will have nine pages of copy a day and- The Sun hopes-three to nine more pages of ads. The Sun will print 60,000 copies at first and distribute them to
newsstands in all five boroughs. Subscriptions for home and office delivery are
available at $125 a year, though the paper didn’t say what its delivery area
The Sun also announced
the names of 25 people who will be filling its pages. Most will be contributors
to the paper, such as the 11 editorial-page columnists, including Raymond
Joseph, co-editor of the Brooklyn-based Haiti
Observateur ; John Avlon, speechwriter to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani; as
well as Cooper Union professor Fred Siegel and National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser. (Mr. Siegel and
Mr. Brookhiser are both contributors to The
Observer .) The Sun will also
carry The Daily Telegraph ‘s column by Barbara Amiel, the wife of Sun investor Lord Conrad Black.
The Sun also announced
three editors: Ellen Kampinsky on the news desk, Ellen Umansky for features and
Robert Messenger for arts. Ms. Kampinsky was most recently a senior editor at
the now-defunct Talk . Ms. Umansky
once worked with Mr. Lipsky when he edited The
Forward , and Mr. Messenger is a veteran of The New Criterion . Also hired for the newsroom is Seth Mnookin, who
most recently was a reporter for Inside.com. The Sun has also hired Bill Hammond to be its state correspondent
in Albany; Mr. Hammond most recently covered the capital for the Schenectady Daily Gazette .
Asked if there are any other major editorial hires to make, Mr.
Stoll said he’s still looking for a D.C. correspondent. “I’d say the Washington
job is the big unfilled one at the moment,” he said. Also to come is a lineup
of arts critics still to be determined, but Mr. Stoll said, “There’s plenty of
time between now and when we launch.”
In recent weeks, the New
York Post has resurrected those “My Post, My Paper” boxes, with pictures of
professed readers and Joel Siegel–like endorsements of the peppy tabloid. Among
those featured in its Tuesday, March 19, issue was Kristen Jenkins, a
28-year-old finance manager from New York who said the “new color is absolutely
fabulous,” and Orlando Rodriguez, an engineer from New Jersey who liked the …
Also buttering up the Post:
Ann Coulter. Yes, that Ann
Coulter-the former National Review
Online columnist whose Sept. 13 rant against Muslims (fun excerpt: “invade
their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”) got her
Ms. Coulter, listed at a flattering 29 years old, said: “I read
Page Six every day. It’s my favorite. And the color is so much better than in The New York Times .”
Ms. Coulter, whom The
Washington Post reported is now dating a Muslim, told Off the Record that
she got hit up for a Post plug while
she was walking into the News Corp. building to tape The O’Reilly Factor .
And true to form, she now wanted to clarify what she’d said. “In
case my implication was unclear,” Ms. Coulter said, “I meant that the New York Post color photos were better
than The New York Times , especially
because they did not accompany articles written by communists.
“Also,” Ms. Coulter said, “in
case you were wondering, when a woman in her 30’s says she is 29, it’s a joke.
I’m a year or two older.” She added: “The press is indignant about the Attorney
General asking Muslim aliens a few questions, but they expect random strangers
to reveal all sorts of personal information to reporters just for the asking.”