The editor who directed the exposure of the Watergate scandal, which led to the demise of Richard Nixon as President of the United States, has died.
Ben Bradlee, who is the former executive editor of The Washington Post, held that position at the newspaper for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers.
The Washington Post reported that he died of natural causes at his home in Washington.
According to The New York Times, the Post won 18 Pulitzers under Bradlee’s tenure.
As executive editor from 1968 until 1991, Bradlee became one of the most important figures in Washington, as well as part of journalism history, while transforming the Post from a staid morning daily into one of the most dynamic and respected publications in the United States.
Bradlee’s work guiding young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they traced a 1972 burglary at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office and apartment complex back to the Nixon White House has been celebrated from journalism schools to Hollywood.
Bradlee gave Woodward and Bernstein license to pursue the scandal and its cover-up vigorously, approving their use of the unidentified source, and the newspaper published about 400 articles about Watergate over 28 months.
In 1972 Bradlee also led the Post in joining the New York Times in publishing stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret government account of Vietnam War decisions, despite heavy legal pressure. He also guided the Post to uncovered details of the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked Ronald Reagan’s White House.
In his tribute to the legendary editor, President Obama praised him for his journalistic integrity.
“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 — stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standard he set — a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting — encouraged so many others to enter the profession.”
The Inquisitr, earlier reported that President Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.
Benjamin Bradlee career’s at the Washington Post began in 1948 as a police reporter. He quit to become a press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
He returned to the Post and became executive editor in 1968, holding the job until his 1991 retirement.
[Image via Reuters/Alex Gallardo]