Ben Bradlee and the Death of American Journalism

When Ben Bradlee, the cosmopolitan former editor of the Washington Post, died on October 21st, the world of American journalism mourned the loss of one of its greatest icons. Bradlee, after all, was almost singlehandedly responsible for the abrupt shift in the role of the print media in the early 1970s from an institution which sought to gather, present, and analyze the news to one that became fixated on the pursuit of justice. For many the high-water mark of his long and storied career came when Richard Nixon boarded a helicopter on the White House lawn on the morning of August 9, 1974 and slashed his arm through the air in a final wave of farewell to his staff. Bradlee knew that his paper's unrelenting commitment to the investigation of the Watergate breakin and coverup had been the key factor in leading to the events of that day. The abuse of power had been confronted and justice served. But a review of that period might reveal much darker motives which impelled...(Read Full Article)