Benjamin C. Bradlee, the legendary editor of The Washington Post who led its newsroom for 26 years, oversaw the reporting of the Watergate scandal and inspired countless journalists, died Tuesday, according to the newspaper.
He was 93.
Bradlee, forever cemented in the annals of American journalism as the no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners-in-your-pursuit-of-the-truth editor guiding the paper during its reportage and exposing of the Watergate political scandal—which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon—and Pentagon Papers, is known as one of the most celebrated and revered of the craft, not just for his transformation of the metropolitan daily into one of the most reputable, and formidable newspapers in the world, but for his larger-than-life character, dedication to the finest virtues of the craft and undeniable magnetism that infected and inspired generations of writers, reporters and editors to strive for his emulation.
“From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily,” writes The Post. “He achieved that goal by combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines. His charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.”
Bradlee would lead The Post to 17 Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure, open bureaus across the country, station correspondents around the globe, and found sections of the paper copied by many others, notes The Post.
In 2013 President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.
Journalists and news outlets flooded social media sites with memories and tributes to Bradlee following The Post‘s announcement of his passing.
“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” former Washington Post Publisher Don Graham told the newspaper Tuesday.
Just as legendary as Bradlee’s journalistic accomplishments (and his take-no-BS attitude) was the size and openness of his heart–for years taking the time to meet, and share tales and tips, with everyone from aspiring journalism students to veteran muckrakers; even starry-eyed, lowly, bloodthirsty interns.
They carry him with them. His relentless passion, and fury, burn on within their words.
Rest in peace.