Celebrated New York Times media columnist and author David Carr died Thursday in his office at age 58, The Times confirms.
The Times did not report a cause of death, but in a memo to the staff, executive editor Dean Baquet wrote that Carr collapsed in the newsroom, adding that he, Carr’s wife Jill, and one of Carr’s daughters were with him in the hospital when Carr was pronounced dead.
Earlier Thursday, Carr led a panel discussion in New York City about the film Citizenfour with Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency computer operative who leaked classified intelligence information to the media in 2013.
In a recent column for The Times, Carr weighed in on the controversy surrounding embattled NBC News anchor Brian Williams, saying “A full-throated, unmodulated apology is the only thing that will satisfy a public who placed their trust in him.” That trust is something Carr took seriously, building a reputation for brutal honesty in the face of harsh pressure. “His plain-spoken style was sometimes blunt, and searingly honest about himself. The effect was both folksy and sophisticated, a voice from a shrewd and well-informed skeptic,” Carr’s colleagues at The Times wrote in his obituary.
A cancer survivor, Carr worked as a contributing writer for The Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine before joining The Times in 2002. His riveting 2008 memoir “The Night of the Gun” relies on Carr’s own reporting to recount a lifetime of addiction and recovery. Carr struggled with substance abuse from an early age and managed to kick a crack cocaine habit only to become “one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at The New York Times,” according to a statement from Times publisher and chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.
“Junkies, as a matter of course, they don’t put things in boxes. They wear them on their head,” Carr once said in a video on the promotional site for his book. “The stories that we tell about ourselves are designed to sort of reveal a part of ourselves to the world,” he continued. “It’s the part we want to show. What I learned from two years of reporting, investigation and writing is that you can’t know the whole truth. But if there is one, it lies in the space between people.”
Additional reporting by M. Alex Johnson