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Benjamin Bradlee

Benjamin Bradlee

Born Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee in Boston he was descended from a long line of notable figures on both sides of the Atlantic, including the original Massachusetts colonists and royalty in the courts of England, France, Germany and Denmark. Bradlee attended Harvard, where he met and married Jean Saltonstall, daughter of Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Senator Leverett A. Saltonstall, before graduating in 1943. In the midst of World War II, Bradlee joined the Office of Naval Intelligence and served as a communications officer in the Pacific. After seeing combat in thirteen naval battles, he was discharged in 1946 and worked as a clerk for the American Civil Liberties Union. Bradlee then became a reporter for the New Hampshire Sunday News before purchasing the publication; when the paper was sold to William Loeb, he moved into crime reporting for the Washington Times. While there, he befriended associate editor Philip Graham, who was also the son-in-law of the publisher, Eugene Meyer. Their friendship led to Bradlee's appointment as assistant press attaché to the American embassy in Paris in 1951. The following year, he joined the Office of U.S. Information and Educational Exchange, which produced propaganda material for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to disseminate throughout Europe. He returned to the news media in 1953 as a European reporter for Newsweek, but was expelled from France for interviewing members of the Algerian revolutionary group the FLN, which was fighting the French government for control of their country.Bradlee returned to the United States, where he joined Newsweek's Washington bureau. While there, he befriended John F. Kennedy and toured with him during his 1960 presidential campaign. By the mid-1960s, Bradlee had been appointed assistant managing editor of Newsweek, and was a central figure in negotiating the sale of the magazine to the Washington Post. As a result, Bradlee was named managing editor of the paper in 1965 and executive editor in 1968. Four years later, Bradlee teamed rising young journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to collaborate on an investigation into a break-in at the Democratic Party campaign offices on the sixth floor of Washington, D.C.'s Watergate Hotel. Woodward and Bernstein's dogged reporting uncovered links between the burglars and the inner circle of President Richard Nixon's administration. Those revelations led to Congressional hearings that eventually forced Nixon to resign from office, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for the Post and a best-selling book from Woodward and Bernstein, All the President's Men (1974). The 1976 movie by director Alan J. Pakula co-starred Jason Robards in an Academy Award-winning turn as Bradlee.Bradlee continued as the Post's executive editor until 1991, when he was replaced by his managing editor and designated successor, Leonard Downie, Jr. Bradlee remained on the paper's masthead as Vice President at Large while pursuing a number of other ventures, including an autobiography, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures (1995), and board positions on the Historic St. Mary's City Commission and St. Mary's College of Maryland. In 2013, Bradlee received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. In September 2014, Ben Bradlee was placed into hospice care at the age of 93 by his third wife, former Washington Post society columnist Sally Quinn, who revealed that the veteran newspaperman was suffering from dementia. Ben Bradlee died on October 21, 2014.
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