The legend, the lion, the luminary: We remember Ben Bradlee

Oct 22, 2014

"There is nothing like daily journalism! Best damn job in the world!" We lead today's Daily with those words from a legend, because newsrooms all over the world are mourning a big loss from last night: iconic Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee has died at age 93. Fittingly, the Post broke that news first, with the honor of the obituary (which accumulated 27,965 shares at last count) going to Robert Kaiser. "Ben Bradlee, the best, died tonight. I began work on his obit 15 years ago, a labor of love," Kaiser revealed.

The outpouring of reflections and respect that followed this news is almost too much to sift through, but we'll try our best to share some glimpses. "God must have needed an ace journalist," CNN's Val Willingham concludes. "He liked egg salad sandwiches, beautiful blondes and taking down a president. I am so glad I knew Ben Bradlee," Vox's Melissa Bell reflects. "Dammit. 93 was too young for Ben," wisely asserts M. Alex Johnson at NBC News. "We Posties are forever in your debt," Rajiv Chandrasekaran chimes in. "Will never forget getting a note from Ben Bradlee when I was an intern at the Post. Nearly fainted," CNN's Rachel Nichols admits. The tribute from Obama was also passed around Twitter.

In The New York Times' obit (10,874 shares), Marilyn Berger invoked a quote calling him the "last of the lion-king newspaper editors." "Really and truly the end of an era: Ben Bradlee is dead. Newspapers will never be the same," opines Times colleague Lydia Polgreen. But did the Times include a dig at their rival's most transformative editor? "Classy how you waited until the fourth graf to talk about the Pulitzer return," Baltimore Sun's Jordan Bartel points out. It's okay, Bradlee collected 18 in total. And then NYT's David Carr did one of the best things today, writing at length about Bradlee's "charmed, charming life," stating, "Ben Bradlee did things. He went to war, loved early and often, befriended and took on presidents, swore like a sailor, and partied like a movie star."

In a special Post tribute, Julia Carpenter and Paul Farhi describe ‘the heart and soul of The Post newsroom’. "In an age before ubiquitous celebrity, Bradlee was a titan of journalism: beacon for excellence & who we could be," concludes Jon Williams at ABC News. "Live and work so well that folks can tell anecdotes like these when you're gone," The Atlantic's Matt Ford recommends.

Also for the Post, Martha Sherrill writes that his sense of Style brought a new sensibility to features: "Sometimes, he’d saunter by your desk & say encouraging things like, 'Don’t f--- it up.'” At TIMEDavid Von Drehle says Bradlee was an editor remembered for his charisma. "Ben Bradlee, once, about the New York Times: 'it’s a paper with four f-cking dance critics!'" Andrew Katz shares. The New Yorker's David Remnick wrote a powerful postscript, too, with an ending you'll relish. And then there was that night Richard Nixon called Ben BradleeBloomberg's Albert Hunt reminds us. The quote to remember: "They said I would never go to China and I did... They said I would never call Ben Bradlee's house, and I just have."

Politico's Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold combine forces to write "Ben Bradlee dies," which cites words from Tom Brokaw ("In the new forms of journalism we'll not likely see his kind again...") and, of course, Bob Woodward ("His passing, in a way, marks the end of the 20th century"). Last but not least, here's ABC News' tribute, c/o Alyssa Newcomb.

To say that we will miss you, Mr. Bradlee, would be an understatement. You were and will always be an enduring influence, mentor and inspiration in the lives of journalists across every platform.

About the author

Writes the @MuckRackDaily & runs #muckedup chat. Creator of #100helpfuldays. I can haz media tips?

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