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Legendary 'Washington Post' Editor Ben Bradlee Has Died

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of <em>The Washington Post,</em> is seated during an event sponsored by paper to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate in 2012.
Alex Brandon
Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, is seated during an event sponsored by paper to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate in 2012.

Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor who ushered in the paper's golden era, overseeing its coverage of the Watergate scandal, has died.

The newspaper reported his death on its website, saying he died of natural causes on Tuesday at his home in Washington.

He was 93.

NPR's David Folkenflik filed this obituary for our Newscast unit:

"Bradlee was from a long line of Boston Brahmins, a son of privilege who saw combat in the Pacific arena in World War II. Later, as a reporter, he had a knack for striking valuable friendships — with a young Sen. John F. Kennedy, for example.

"At Newsweek, Bradlee persuaded his boss, Katharine Graham, to hire him at her Washington Post,wherehe quickly became executive editor, bestowing glamour on the previously drab newsroom by hiring stylish writers.

"Along with the New York Times, Bradlee and the Post defied the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers, but he was propelled to fame amid the Watergate scandal, which turned into a best-selling book and blockbuster movie.

"Bradlee's gut instincts could go awry. He had to give back a Pulitzer Prize won by a budding star about an invented heroin addict, but the Post inspired an entire generation of reporters thanks not just to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein but a larger-than-life editor."

Update at 8:49 p.m. ET. A 'True Friend' And 'Genius Leader':

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who broke the Watergate story, which led to the resignation of President Nixon, issued this statement about Bradlee:

"Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism. He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army. Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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