He became the face, voice and spirit of tough-talking, detail-obsessed newspaper editors when his team's coverage took down a president, and Ben Bradlee's legacy is sure to live on among generations of journalists who will never even see a printing press.
Benjamin C. Bradlee died of natural causes at his home today. He was 93. He is survived by his wife, Sally Quinn, and son, Quinn Bradlee.
As managing editor and later executive editor of The Washington Post during its rapid rise to international prominence, Bradlee steered Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's Pulitzer-winning coverage of Watergate, a political scandal that eventually helped unravel Richard Nixon's presidency.
Bradlee transformed a sleepy, city newspaper into a national powerhouse that went head-to-head with The New York Times. He was tapped in 1965 by Washington Post Co. president Katharine Graham to run the paper, moving over from Newsweek (also owned by the Post) to be the managing editor. Len Downie Jr. succeeded Bradlee as executive editor when Bradlee retired in 1991. Bradlee will perhaps best be remembered not as himself but instead as he was portrayed by Jason Robards in 1976's All the President's Men.
Bradlee also signed off on publication of the Pentagon Papers, the government's secret history of the Vietnam War. After a hard-fought legal battle, the Post and The New York Times won permission from the Supreme Court to reveal the documents.
Bradlee's tenure at the Post was marked by great success for the newspaper. Its readership and newsroom staff both doubled under his leadership, the Post obituary noted.