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How Ben Bradlee Became The Face Of Great Journalism - Source Washingtonian

Posted on Dec 07,2017
Filed Under News , Community,

Photograph by Washington Post - Getty Images.

Source Washingtonian


WASHINGTON, DC. - Ben Bradlee hasn’t shone this brightly since the 1970s, when he stared down the Nixon administration over the Pentagon Papers and won, led a tireless staff to produce momentous Watergate coverage, and came to represent the epitome of the ballsy newspaper editor in the public imagination. Buried just three years ago at age 93, Bradlee is being resurrected by Steven Spielberg in a new Pentagon Papers docudrama, The Post (opening in limited release December 22), and by HBO in a documentary titled The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee (airing December 4). There’s also a new edition of his 1995 autobiography, A Good Life, with a fresh introduction by Watergate’s Glimmer Twins, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and an afterword by his wife, Sally Quinn. If the Commission of Fine Arts ever decides to build a national monument honoring journalists, it will probably order a grinning sculpture of Bradlee, his shirtsleeves rolled up to expose forearms that would shame Popeye.

Why do we revere Bradlee but barely remember Abe Rosenthal, the New York Times editor who was his contemporary and equal? Rosenthal published from the Pentagon Papers first. (The Post got into the fray after a federal court told the Times to stop.) And Rosenthal’s innovations—introducing freestanding sections devoted to metro, lifestyle, and other subjects—did as much to reinvent the daily newspaper as Bradlee’s did. But Rosenthal lacked Bradlee’s incandescent personality, his irrepressible charisma. People who met the Post editor were awed by his presence, with some in the newsroom imitating his sartorial style, his wisecracking, and the sailor’s strut he used to exhort his reporters to greatness. Times staffers may have wanted Rosenthal’s job, but they didn’t want to be him.

Source Washingtonian

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