Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee has died at the age of 93.
Bradlee was a a flamboyant hard talking journalist who ran the paper’s newsroom when it helped topple President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal.
His guiding of young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they traced a 1972 burglary at Democratic Party HQ right back to Nixon has been celebrated by journalists around the world.
The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Price for the coverage.
As executive editor from 1968 until 1991, Bradlee he became on the of the most important figures in Washington as well as part of journalism history.
What was the Watergate scandal?
- ‘Watergate’ became a major political scandal in the US in the 1970s.
- It began with President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempts to cover up its involvement in a June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington DC.
- Five men were initially arrested for breaking and entering into the offices on June 17, 1972.
- The FBI connected cash found in the burglars’ possession with a slush fund used by Nixon’s official campaign organisation, the Committee for the Re-election of the President (CRP).
- An investigation conducted by the Senate Watergate Committee saw evidence mount against the president’s staff. In July 1973, it was revealed that Nixon kept a tape recording system in his offices, which he used to record multiple conversations.
- A legal battle ensued, which resulted in the US Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that Nixon must hand over the tapes to official investigators.
- The recordings implicated the President in the break-in. It was revealed that he had attempted to conceal dubious events which had taken place after the burglary, and also uncovered multiple abuses of power.
- In the face of almost-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and a probable Senate conviction, Richard Nixon resigned from his role as US President on August 9, 1974.
- Almost a month later, on September 8, Nixon’s successor Gerald Ford issued a pardon to him.
- As a result of the scandal and subsequent investigation, 69 people were indicted, with 48 people found guilty and incarcerated following trials or pleas, many of whom were top officials in the Nixon administration.
- The term ‘Watergate’ is now synonymous with a range of secret – and often illegal – activities engaged in by President Nixon’s administration. The suffix ‘-gate’ is now commonly used to refer to political scandals both in the US and worldwide.