Wednesday, October 22, 2014

End of An Era... Ben Bradlee Dies

If you're a person of a certain age, you know the name Ben Bradlee.  You know he was executive editor of the Washington Post.  He supported and protected young reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward while they sought to uncover the greatest government scandal in our nation's history.  He worked with  Katharine Graham, owner of the WaPo, for 26 years; they published the Pentagon Papers and are closely aligned with the defining moment that changed politics and how we will forever view our elected officials, our government, our defense department and our country: the burglary at the DNC headquarters in the Watergate building ultimately resulting in the resignation of Pres. Richard Nixon 

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee changed politics in America forever.  As editor of The Washington Post during the critical years of the Viet Nam War - the beginning of the Clinton presidency, 1965-1991, he and Post owner Katharine Graham prevailed against the U.S. Government in a 6-3 Supreme Court decision, allowing the Post to publish the Pentagon Papers,a study of U.S. political and military activities in Viet Nam.   They went on to support and publish the Watergate scandal as written by two unknown-at-the- time reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. 

He was a great newspaper man.
When Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, then two young reporters, first approached Bradlee about a burglary in the Watergate complex the details were murky, but he was certain there was a story...he supported Woodward and Bernstein as they began pursuing leads and took direction from an anonymous source known as “Deep Throat.” They were young reporters, though, without sources on the record. PBS NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer asked Bradlee in 2005 how he knew they were right.
“Because nobody told me they were wrong and nobody could prove they were wrong; they weren’t wrong,” said Bradlee. PBS Newshour The Rundown 10/21/14
In reading a few of the hundreds of articles published since his death was announced, I am struck by stories of his humanity, his sense of right and wrong, his kindnesses.  Often, portrayals of people who've changed the world are two-dimensional.  Bradlee sounds anything but that. 

He was a great mentor. 
He left us alone. He never told us what the story was, how he wanted it written, or what it was supposed to prove that he already believed. You were in charge. And when you’d had your say, he stood by you, battling the detractors, defending your choices, answering all charges of incompetence with praise for your guts and good sense. “You can’t do any better than surround yourself with the best people you can find,” he wrote in his memoir, "A Good Life,” “and then listen to them.”  M. Sherrill Washington Post 10/21/14
I received a letter from Ben dated March 6, 1970. It began: “Dear Ted: You got nosed out in the finals of the toughest competition we have ever had... You are really a year premature and your lack of previous experience in journalism was a tough hurdle for us to overcome. I was particularly sorry about you, because I was attracted by your love of writing, and your attitude generally. I hunch that you have a hell of a future in this business, and I hereby urge you to reapply again and again. I enjoyed my time with you enormously. Keep up your interest in this business. You will make it. Sincerely, Ben Bradlee”  Ted Gup  New York Times  10/22/14
He was a patriot.

 “You don’t think of journalists automatically as patriots, one. You don’t think of them as real authorities in the question of what is classified and what isn’t, and what is a threat to the United States and what isn’t. But in fact at that time, we were,” said Bradlee in his interview with the Academy of Achievement. “We were more expert that a lot of the government witnesses who testified against us…most of us had served in World War II and had quite fancy security clearances. So we did, and there was no threat to the national security, and information, truth, is not a threat to security, and we believed that.”  PBS News Hour  The Rundown 10/21/14
He was a leader.

He took over an also-ran newspaper and turned it into a battleship like the one on which he served in World War II. Once the newspaper he ran gained steam, there was only the relentless effort to beat the competition, to find and woo talent, to afflict those that The Post deemed worthy.In the more than quarter-century he helped lead the newsroom, from 1965 to 1991, he doubled its staff and circulation, and multiplied its ambitions. He would have been a terrible newspaperman in the current context — buyouts, reduced print schedules, timidity about offending advertisers — but he was a perfect one for his time.   David Carr NY Times  10/22/14

I find the last line in the above David Carr excerpt particularly appropriate as I wonder what Ben Bradlee would think of today's media, sensationalist reporting and irresponsible journalism.  


Friday, October 10, 2014

AIG Loan: It boils down to two words...

Hanging out at The Urban Politico today and watched this hilarious Daily Show analysis of the AIG lawsuit.  (Those two words are at the end of the video)

Yeah. I didn't know anything about it either. Stewart makes it so fun and easy to despise Wall Street.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Englanders Are Tight As Ticks...but everybody knows that!

As this article points out, New Englanders donate the least amount of dollars to charity of any region in the U.S.  My state, New Hampshire, is lowest on this totem pole.  If the national average is 3%, the New England aggregate of six states, MA, RI, CT, NH, ME, VT, comes in at 2.04% with NH bringing up the rear with 1.74%.  (

Why am I not surprised?  I've been living and working in New England since 1997.  As a region, New Englanders are tight with a buck, suspicious of newcomers, probably the last to let go of a quarter (and the eagle screams when they do so).  I sell broadcast advertising on television.  Getting a New Englander to trust me takes time...and I'm very trustworthy!  Once they do trust you, you're in.
And, for the most part, they pay their bills on time, unlike the other parts of the country in which I've lived (especially California where it should be cash in advance 90% of the time).

This fascinates me and I wonder if the New England native's standoffish suspicion towards organized religion has anything to do with it?  You'll notice the most generous areas are where Mormons and Baptists live.  They know they're going to Hell if they don't tithe.  I know this because I was raised in the Baptist church. And, believe me, I tithe!

If you're curious as to how you're neck of the woods stacks up, here's the list.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

Thirteen years ago today our country experienced its most cataclysmic event of the brand new 21st Century.  Two airliners, hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists, flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  A third hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon and a fourth plane was taken down by the brave passengers aboard who overcame their abductees, choosing to die with honor. But it seems so much more recent.  Perhaps it's because we're still fighting the terrorists and we've not had closure; perhaps because the wound is so raw.  I saw this photograph on Twitter and felt compelled to post. It's so different from the others commemorating this day in 2001.  

I'm flying from Boston to SoCal tomorrow.  I'm not on American or United but my original plans were to leave today until my husband pointed out it would be 9-11.  I had forgotten but, then, it was only May.

I've nothing to add other than I fear for our men and women in the armed forces.  We are now tasked with going back to fight ISIS/ISIL.  Obama says no boots on the ground, but we know how that goes.

God help us and be with us.  


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Can We Talk?

Joan Rivers died today and I mourn her passing.  She could be irreverent, she could be annoying, she could be tasteless.  She was painfully honest while uproariously and politically incorrect.  It's not a big deal today but in her day, it was groundbreaking.

Her stints on the "Tonight Show" are probably my earliest memories of her.  At least, that's where she hit it big. 
"When I started out, a pretty girl did not go into comedy. If you saw a pretty girl walk into a nightclub, she was automatically a singer. Comedy was all white, older men. It was Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Shelley Berman, Red Skelton ... even Amos and Andy were white men, which is hilarious if you think about it."   The Hollywood Reporter  12/06/12

We watched her evolve along with her face into the unapologetic woman who once admitted to developing bulimia after her husband's suicide because it gave her control over something when everything in her world seemed uncontrollable. 4/06/13 

Her husband left her broke.  Her relationship with Johnny soured when she left to do her own show on another network.  He never spoke to her again.  She hung on, climbed out of the hole she was in and went on with her life.  She had a daughter to raise and a career to rebuild and debts to pay.  

She did it all with flair.  I have to say, I still laughed at her Fashion Police antics and her red carpet "Who are you wearing?" interviews, her jewelry line she personally hawked on the shopping networks, her book signings and ongoing stand up appearances.  She must have had an iron will.  She will she be missed.



by Cole Scott