Ben Bradlee Remembered As 'Giant' In Journalism

Accolades poured in Tuesday following the news that former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee had died. Bradlee, 93, had been in declining health for months and had been in hospice care since Sept. 29.

Donald Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post and chairman of Graham Holdings, formerly the Washington Post Co., wrote a column lauding Bradlee. “We felt he could make anything possible,” Graham said.

Chris Cillizza, the Post’s editor of The Fix and a contributor on MSNBC, tweeted  if you look up “bad ass” in the dictionary, “there’s a picture of Ben Bradlee staring back at you.” In a column in the Post, Cillizza said Bradlee’s best trait was “swagger.

“[T]rue swagger — a supreme confidence in your own abilities and the knowledge that, well, you’ve got this — is actually a very rare thing. And rarer still are people who don’t just think they possess it, but actually do,” Cillizza wrote.

President Obama said for Bradlee “journalism was more than a profession — it was a public good vital to our democracy.”

In bestowing the Medal of Freedom on Bradlee last November, Obama said the editor had transformed the Post “into one of the finest [newspapers] in the world.”

“And with Ben in charge, the Post published the Pentagon Papers, revealing the true history of America’s involvement in Vietnam, exposed Watergate, unleashed a new era of investigative journalism, holding America’s leaders accountable and reminding us that our freedom as a nation rests on our freedom of the press,” Obama said in recalling Bradlee’s legacy.

Political strategist David Axelrod said Bradlee “will live forever, immortalized for the courage he showed at one of America’s darkest hours.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Bradlee “a giant.”



Mark Leibovich, a former Post reporter, said Bradlee was the “embodiment of the newsman who had impact.” One of the editor’s favorite encouragements to male reporters, Leibovich recalled, was “Keep your pecker up.”

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate reporting fame called Bradlee “a true friend and genius leader in journalism,” pointer.org reported. “His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army,” the pair said.

Christopher Stewart, senior special writer at the Wall Street Journal, said Bradlee had a special name for what he considered a dull story.

“Family Guy” writer David Goodman called Bradlee “a journalist from the age when there were journalists.”

Media organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists also mourned Bradlee’s passing.




Colin Lecher

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