Ben Bradlee, Newspaper Editor of Watergate Fame, Dies at 93

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After Benjamin C. Bradlee entered hospice care in mid-September, this columnist asked a few female reporters and black journalists who worked under Bradlee in the Washington Post of the 1970s to assess him, anticipating the inevitable. Most declined.

It is clear, however, that while the Bradlee era has been defined as one of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, it was also one of black struggle and women's liberation, areas in which Bradlee had a steep learning curve. It is a tribute to Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, that those who were willing to comment gave him the benefit of the doubt for lessons learned.

"Like many people of his class and era, he thought suing your employer was basically rude, and unions were there only to protect the incompetent," said Megan Rosenfeld, a Style section writer during that time.

"He favored women (as employees) who could out swagger him. But eventually he got it, and while I never heard him express regret over the way women had been treated — as opposed to minorities, which I think he did express regret for ignoring — I believe that deep down he knew we’d had a bad deal and had to fight and unite to be heard." Women at the Post filed charges of discrimination in 1974, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in their favor.

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