alt.obituaries Memorial Deadpool
est. 2005
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Ben Bradlee


When journalists die, their own spare no words in sending them off. So I'll keep this briefish: Ben Bradlee was more than the crusty assignment editor immortalized by Jason Robards in All the President's Men. His 26 years as executive editor of the Washington Post were vital in establishing that paper as a national news source. His legendary charm and persuasive skills attracted three generations of America's best journalists to work for him, and his loyalty endeared him to them; after his death, foreign correspondents spoke of feeling as though, no matter what dangerous situation they found themselves in, he had their backs.

For better or worse, Bradlee brought key features of midcentury American magazines to the daily-newspaper business. Inspired by his work on Newsweek in the 1950s, he invested then-unusual amounts of time and money in long-form features, and he pioneered the Style section, now a standard feature of daily papers, to emphasize "soft news." (That he did this in Washington, D.C., means that he can largely be blamed for the modern trend of covering politicians as celebrities.) Additionally, the Post on his watch was the first major paper to hire an ombudsman to self-police the paper's ethics, a position that helped shield its reputation when the Janet Cooke scandal forced it to return one of its many Pulitzer Prizes.

Though his, and the Post's, adversarial relationship with the Nixon administration was legendary, Bradlee was otherwise dogged, throughout his career, by allegations that he was closer to official power than a journalist should be. He'd struck up a friendship with John F. Kennedy when the two were neighbors in Georgetown in the 1950s, and maintained an unusual level of access once JFK was elected president; he later recounted their "confidential" conversations in a best-selling book. In the '80s and '90s, with his journalistic reputation firmly established, he and his third wife, the Post journalist Sally Quinn, were key members of the Georgetown cocktail-party elite, and critics have claimed that official Washington's distaste for the Clintons derived, in part, from Hillary Clinton once turning down an invitation to a party at the Bradlees'.

Ben Bradlee died on October 21, at 93. Fireball, Headless Horseman, and Kixco get three points each for the hit.


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