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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Former Post editor visits HOVA

Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee addressed members of the Hall on Virginia Avenue’s Watergate floor Thursday evening as the last speaker of the yearlong Community Living and Learning Center’s Watergate program.

Bradlee, who retired in 1991 after 23 years as editor, was partly responsible for the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate coverage and the release of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam conflict.

(Bradlee) was one of the central figures of Watergate, said Professor Dan Jacobs, who heads the Watergate program.

Bradlee fielded a series of questions dealing with Watergate, journalism, the upcoming presidential election and the identity of the infamous anonymous source Deep Throat.

I forgot, Bradlee said in response to the question of the informant’s identity. I’m not going to tell you, I haven’t even told my wife.

Bradlee said if either Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, the reporters responsible for the Watergate investigations, were to die, the identity of Deep Throat would probably be revealed.

Bradlee toured HOVA room 723, the room used to spy on the Watergate break-ins, after he spoke. The room contains framed front pages of The Post and other papers from the Nixon era as well as various memorabilia from the time.

The former editor said he didn’t feel that his staff covering Watergate changed the world, but still noted Woodward and Bernstein’s lasting legacy.

Reporters put heat on administrators more now after Watergate, he said. It showed that investigative reporting was prosperous . Woodward and Bernstein increased the allure of journalism as a career.

Bradlee said the media probably could be considered the fourth branch of government.

The press is under criticism every year, but (it’s) better now than it ever was, he said. Good papers are better than they’ve ever been. People are attracted to journalism because they see a chance to improve society.

The aspect that amazed Bradlee the most about the Watergate scandal was how easily people lied about the intricate case, he said.

Americans were prompted to be more excited about the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal partly as a result of the Nixon scandal, Bradlee said.

Nixon would’ve been better off with a sex scandal, he said. If (Clinton) hadn’t been looking the country in the eye and saying `I didn’t.’ when he did, they’d probably have dropped it.

Bradlee, who worked in print journalism for 45 years, described the rising Internet news medium as jumbled and a mess in some ways.

Newspapers tell you what is really interesting on the Internet, he said. Bradlee said he does not consider Internet reporters to be journalists.

I learned to read with newspapers, learned to add with the box scores, he said. Your generation doesn’t read newspapers as much as the older generation did.

Culture doesn’t embrace print media as much, he said. We are living in a culture that produces and honors people who are good on `Larry King.’

Bradlee also spoke briefly about the media’s role in the election.

The media doesn’t like people who don’t like them, he said, citing former president John F. Kennedy’s adoration of the media. That’s true of all of you.

Bradlee said today’s press, which adulated former candidate John McCain, isn’t fond of either of the two major presidential candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush.

The media likes to like people more than they care about politics, Bradlee said.

This year’s Watergate program speakers included former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, and Ari Fleischer, a spokesperson for Bush, as well as a few University professors.

(Bradlee) is a piece of history and an excellent speaker, Jacobs said Thursday. America after Watergate is better because of Mr. Bradlee.

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