Ben Bradlee and Integrity

Ben BradleeI’m posting this to remind myself of something I want to write later today. But it also happens to be great.

In an excellent column on Wednesday, Eric Alterman wrote Attack Dog Jennifer Rubin Muddies the Washington Post’s Reputation. He tells the story of the Washington Post and their search for a conservative blogger to apease the wacko conservatives in Washington DC. On its third (and worst) try, they have settled upon the repugnant Jennifer Rubin. Read the article, it’s worth the time—I promise.

Towards the end of the article, Alterman relates a story about the Washington Post when it was a great newspaper as opposed to today when it is referred to as “Fox on 15th.”

In his engaging portrait of Bradlee, Yours in Truth, Jeff Himmelman recounts an incident from 1969 in which two young Post reporters, Leonard Downie and Jim Hoagland, had worked for months on a story about racial discrimination in the Washington savings-and-loan industry. Titled “Mortgaging the Ghetto,” it was scheduled to run over a ten-day period. Just before that happened, a group representing the industry went to Bradlee’s office and told him that if the series ran, they would pull all their advertising from the paper—representing, even then, about $1 million in revenue. What did Bradlee tell Downie? “He puts his hand on my shoulder and he says, ‘Just get it right, kid,’ and walked away.”

Integrity. Imagine that!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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