Ben Bradlee, born in Boston in 1921, was an influential American journalist and the executive editor of The Washington Post from 1968 to 1991.
He began his career at 15 and later graduated from Harvard. After military service, he co-founded the New Hampshire Sunday News and joined The Washington Post in 1948.
Post roles included foreign correspondent for Newsweek and, after facilitating the magazine’s purchase by Post owner Philip Graham, he headed its Washington bureau.
Bradlee returned to the Post as executive editor, backing the publication of the Pentagon Papers and supporting the Watergate investigation.
His leadership earned the Post 18 Pulitzer Prizes. Bradlee wrote several books and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. He passed away in 2014.
Here is a nice collection of quotes by Ben Bradlee.
Ben Bradlee Quotes
The champagne was flowing like the Potomac in flood. ~ Ben Bradlee.
Hire people smarter than you are and encourage them to bloom. ~ Ben Bradlee
You never monkey with the truth. ~ Ben Bradlee
Maybe some of today’s papers have too many ‘feel-good’ features, but there is a lot of good news out there. ~ Ben Bradlee
The Nixon administration really put a lot of pressure on CBS not to run the second broadcast. ~ Ben Bradlee
I don’t want to disappoint too many people, but the number of interesting political, historical conversations we had, you could stick in your ear, it wasn’t that many. We talked about friends, family and of course girls. ~ Ben Bradlee
Best Ben Bradlee Quotes
There will always be leaks; in Washington, everywhere. ~ Ben Bradlee
As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness, it is not his job to worry about consequences. The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men free. ~ Ben Bradlee
The biggest difference between Kennedy and Nixon, as far as the press is concerned, is simply this: Jack Kennedy really liked newspaper people and he really enjoyed sparring with journalists. ~ Ben Bradlee
News is the first draft of history. ~ Ben Bradlee
It’s very hard to stand up to the government which is saying that publication will threaten national security. People don’t seem to realize that reporters and editors know something about national security and care deeply about it. ~ Ben Bradlee
If an investigative reporter finds out that someone has been robbing the store, that may be ‘gotcha’ journalism, but it’s also good journalism. ~ Ben Bradlee
Sometimes I am convinced there is nothing wrong with this country that couldn’t be cured by the magical implantation of ethical standards on us all – leaders and followers. Until that becomes doable, the Center for Public Integrity is just about the best thing we have going for us. ~ Ben Bradlee
There is nothing like daily journalism! Best damn job in the world! ~ Ben Bradlee
Famous Ben Bradlee Quotes
In the perfect world every source could be identified, but like the man said, It’s not a perfect world. ~ Ben Bradlee
But journalists thrive on not knowing exactly what the future holds. That’s part of the excitement. Something interesting, something important, will happen somewhere, as sure as God made sour apples, and a good aggressive newspaper will become part of that something. ~ Ben Bradlee
It changes your life, the pursuit of truth, if you know that you have tried to find the truth and gone past the first apparent truth towards the real truth. It’s very, it’s very exciting. ~ Ben Bradlee
Nothing’s riding on this, except the First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys f-k up again, I’m gonna get mad. ~ Ben Bradlee
To hell with news! I’m no longer interested in news. I’m interested in causes. We don’t print the truth. We don’t pretend to print the truth. We print what people tell us. It’s up to the public to decide what’s true. ~ Ben Bradlee
As a child, one looks for compliments. As an adult, one looks for evidence of effectiveness. ~ Ben Bradlee
Generals who can write always make me nervous. ~ Ben Bradlee
Powerful Ben Bradlee Quotes
The history of American politics is littered with bodies of people who took so pure a position that they had no clout at all. ~ Ben Bradlee
I think he had a strange, passionate devotion to the truth and a horror at what he saw going on. ~ Ben Bradlee
Cherchez la femme is good advice for investigative reporters. Follow the money is even better advice. ~ Ben Bradlee
I do worry about how newspapers respond to falling circulation figures. I’m not sure that the answer is for newspapers to try to cater to whatever seems to be the fad of the day. ~ Ben Bradlee
It is my experience that most claims of national security are part of a campaign to avoid telling the truth. ~ Ben Bradlee
I think the conscientious pursuit of happiness by itself can validate decisions to change, to try again, especially when failure to change will lead to lives of duplicity, dishonesty, and deceit. ~ Ben Bradlee
Everybody who talks to a newspaper has a motive. That’s just a given. And good reporters always, repeat always, probe to find out what that motive is. ~ Ben Bradlee
I never believed that Nixon could fully resurrect himself. And the proof of that was in the obits. ~ Ben Bradlee
Sure, some journalists use anonymous sources just because they’re lazy, and I think editors ought to insist on more precise identification even if they remain anonymous. ~ Ben Bradlee