Washington Post former editor Ben Bradlee, who played a key role in the Watergate scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon, has died aged 93.
According to the newspaper, Benjamin C. Bradlee died at his Washington home of natural causes.
As executive editor from 1968-1991, Ben Bradlee was credited for transforming the Post into one the most respected newspapers in America.
In 2013, Bed Bradlee was given the country’s highest civilian honor – the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession – it was a public good vital to our democracy,” President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House on Tuesday evening.
“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 – stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better.”
“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald Graham, the former publisher of the Washington Post.
Ben Bradlee – who fought in the Navy during World War Two – became a reporter in the 1950s.
He soon became close friends with the then senator and future President John F. Kennedy.
Ben Bradlee became managing editor at the Washington Post in 1965 and was promoted to executive editor three years later.
“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,” the newspaper wrote in its obituary.
“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.”
In 1971, Ben Bradlee decided to publish the so-called Pentagon Papers – a secret study of the Vietnam War broken by The New York Times.
Ben Bradlee acted against the advice of lawyers and the entreaties of top government officials. A legal battle then began, with the Supreme Court later upholding the right of newspapers to print the leaked papers.
He played a key role in toppling President Richard Nixon in 1974.
Ben Bradlee encouraged two journalists – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – to pursue relentlessly the unfolding story in which some of Richard Nixon’s closest aides became involved in illegal activities, followed by a political cover-up in which the president himself was implicated.
The story of the newspaper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal was later portrayed in the film All The President’s Men, with Ben Bradlee played by Jason Robards.
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