Benjamin C. Bradlee

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Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee (August 26, 1921 – October 21, 2014) was the vice president of the Washington Post. As managing editor of the Post from 1965 to 1991, he challenged the federal government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers. He became famous for overseeing the publication of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's stories documenting the Watergate affair. For decades, Bradlee was one of only four publicly known people who knew the true identity of "Deep Throat", the other three being Woodward, Bernstein, and Deep Throat himself.

Early life

Benjamin Bradlee was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University, graduating in 1942. Bradlee married Jean Saltonstall, the daughter of Senator Leverett Saltonstall. After graduating Bradlee joined the Office of Naval Intelligence and worked as a communications officer. His duties included handling classified and coded cables. After the war, he became a reporter at the New Hampshire Sunday News in 1946. He started working for the Washington Post in 1948 as a reporter. Bradlee also got to know Philip Graham, Eugene Meyer's son-in-law, and associate publisher of the newspaper. In 1951 Graham helped Bradlee to become assistant press attaché in the American embassy in Paris.

Government work

In 1952 Bradlee joined the staff of the Office of U.S. Information and Educational Exchange (USIE), the embassy's propaganda unit. USIE produced films, magazines, research, speeches, and news items for use by the CIA throughout Europe. USIE (later known as USIA) also controlled the Voice of America, a means of disseminating pro-American "cultural information" worldwide. While at the USIE Bradlee worked with E. Howard Hunt and Fred Friendly.

According to a Justice Department memo from an assistant U.S. attorney in the Rosenberg Trial, Bradlee was helping the CIA to manage European propaganda regarding the spying conviction and the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg on 19 June 1953.

Bradlee was officially employed by USIE until 1953, when he began working for Newsweek. While based in France, Bradlee divorced his first wife and married Antoinette Pinchot. Antoinette's sister, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was President John F. Kennedy's last lover in White House. Mary Pinchot Meyer had been married to Cord Meyer, a key figure in Operation MB, a CIA program to influence the American media and later Bill Clinton's case manager for the CIA.

Antoinette Bradlee was also a close friend of Cicely d'Autremont, who was married to James Jesus Angleton. Bradlee worked closely with Angleton in Paris. At the time Angleton was liaison for all Allied intelligence in Europe. His deputy was Richard Ober, a fellow student of Bradlee's at Harvard University.

In 1957 Bradlee created a great deal of controversy when he interviewed members of the FLN. They were Algerian guerrillas who were in rebellion against the French government at the time. According to Deborah Davis, author of Katharine the Great about Katharine Graham, this had all the "earmarks of an intelligence operation". As a result of these interviews, Bradlee was expelled from France.

Washington Post

As a reporter in the 1950s, he became close friends with Senator John F. Kennedy, who lived nearby. Bradlee served as a reporter in various assignments at the Post until 1961, when he became a senior editor. He maintained that position until 1965 when he was promoted to managing editor. He became vice president and executive editor in 1968. In 1978 he married fellow reporter Sally Quinn. Bradlee retired as executive editor in September 1991 but continues to serve as vice president of the paper.

In 1981, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer Prize for Jimmy's World,[1] a profile of an eight-year old heroin addict. Cooke's article turned out to be based on faked information; there was no eight-year old addict. As executive editor, Bradlee was roundly criticized in many circles for failing to ensure the article's accuracy. After questions about the story's veracity arose, Bradlee (along with publisher Donald Graham) ordered a "full disclosure" investigation to ascertain the truth. At one point during the investigation, Bradlee angrily compared Cooke with Richard Nixon over her attempted cover-up of the fake story. Bradlee personally apologized to Mayor Marion Barry and the Chief of Police of Washington, DC for the Post's fictitious article. Cooke, meanwhile was forced to resign and relinquish the Pulitzer.

Bradlee published an autobiography in 1995, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures. He had an acting role in the 1993 remake of the 1950 romantic comedy Born Yesterday. He also appears as a character in the 1976 film All the President's Men, where he is portrayed by Jason Robards.


  1. Post Reporter's Pulitzer Prize Is Withdrawn, Pulitzer Board Withdraws Post Reporter's Prize, By David A. Maraniss, Washington Post, April 16, 1981.

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