Washington Post’s former executive editor Ben Bradlee, who led the paper’s coverage of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal, has died aged 93 of natural causes.
Ben Bradlee was editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991. He guided the Post’s reinvention towards new editorial standards, surrounding himself with talented journalists and transformed the paper into one of the most respected newspapers in the world.
In 1971 Bradlee and publisher Katharine Graham challenged the federal government by publishing the Pentagon Papers, a secret story of the United States’ military and political involvement in the Vietnam War.
One year later, together with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, he probed the break-in into the offices of the Democratic National Committee headquarters and presided over the newspaper’s investigation of the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon administration in 1974.
Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post for three decades, here with reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward in 1972 (photo: shapersofthe80s)
Bradlee’s investigative journalism pieces, that documented the Watergate scandal, helped uncover the incriminating tapes and illegal operations that linked the US government’s upper echelons, these revelations which ultimately brought Richard Nixon into such disrepute, eventually toppled his presidency.
In 2013 President Barack Obama awarded Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honour.
US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to journalist Ben Bradlee (photo: Reuters)
In a statement released by the White House on Tuesday evening President Barack Obama said: “For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession – it was a public good vital to our democracy”.
“A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told”, BBC News commented.
“The best American newspaper editor of his time”, as the former publisher of the Washington Post Donald Graham titled him, died of natural causes in his home in Washington.