The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee– Courtesy of HBO
CAIRO – 21 December 2017: Narrated with his own voice, “The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradley” tells the captivating story of the man who lived for telling the truth and hating lies. Sometimes referred to as the country’s “most dangerous editor,” according to
, Bradlee was the man who made Richard Nixon, the former U.S. President, resign.
The documentary by HBO which was released this December shows the brief editing life of Bradlee in the newsroom and outside of it, including how he brought down former President of the United States Richard Nixon to resign after the Watergate scandal broke out. The scandal was revealed by none other than Bradlee and his team of reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, with the assistance of “Deep Throat” who leaked the Watergate details to them.
Bradlee’s voice, more so than Bradlee himself, was the movie’s lead. His voice carries with it the character behind the man. In one of his video
with Poynter Institute in 1986, Bradlee spoke of the relationship between the public and the press by which he said: “We are not supposed to be liked. Where is it written that we have to be loved? I can show you as many… I mean the last studies that I have seen showed that we’re more popular than business men, we’re more popular in society than congressmen, we’re less popular than the military and the church. It doesn’t seem to me bad. I don’t think there is something wrong with that. We got a lot of jobs to do, but one of them is not be loved. We don’t have to be loved… got to be respected I think.”
But Bradlee captivates for more than his sense of truth, the man’s march into the newsroom after Nixon announced his resignation and the manner with which he instructed them to not gloat, Bradley was honorable. He knew reporting the truth was not about getting even or vilifying an enemy, it was more about educating the public and getting them to know what is going on in their country and world.
Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post, looks at the front page of the newspaper, headlined 'Nixon Resigns', in the composing room on August 8, 1974 – Courtesy of The Telegraph
Like anyone in life, he was not immune to mistakes. One of his staff reporters, Janet Cooke, committed the sin of all sins in the world of journalism, fabrication. She fabricated a story that went on the front page and got Cooke to win a Pulitzer which subsequently had to be returned. Bradlee sticking to his guns and the truth, published a full story on how this incident happened from the begging until the end; turning the disaster into a yearlong investigation by Bill Green as an ombudsman in which “he wrote one of the most damning and thorough critiques of malfeasance in modern journalism, revealing the depth of deception by Cooke and the carelessness of her editors that led to one of the most humiliating episodes in The Post’s history,” according to The
At the end of the documentary many who knew him read that letter he wrote to a high school senior and editor of her school’s newspaper wanting to understand what made him who he was. “Dear Shanon Fagan, I’ve always had trouble explaining myself and my principles. I believe in hard work. I believe in fighting all kinds of domination. I believe in steering clear of the big shots. I believe in total honesty. I believe in compassion. Sincerely, Ben Bradley.” The man who read the last sentence was on the verge of tears and he cried.
If Bradlee was still alive in the times we are in, he would still stay “don’t give up” given what he actually said in his own words about the truth, in a Press-Enterprise Lecture he delivered at the University of California, Riverside, on January 7, 1997, according to The