On the Passing of Ben Bradlee

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 22, 2014


Ben Bradlee was America’s Editor-in-Chief. He was courageous and fearless, gutsy and gritty, and as much as we remember his big laugh and his love of politics and people, his legacy defines great journalism: he found the facts and he let the facts tell the story, no matter where they led.

It's hard to explain the era of the Pentagon Papers to those who didn't live it. The magnitude and consequences of the choices Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham were making are almost impossible to convey adequately. It required bravery. It exposed the truth. It saved lives. That's a rare thing today. There aren't many journalists who can say that they decided to say no to the most powerful people in the world and do what was right, not what was easy. But that's exactly what Ben Bradlee did in publishing the Pentagon Papers and he did it again on Watergate.

Ben put his own brand on journalism and it was big, bold, and unapologetic. He invented the modern newsroom. He cared about the Post as an institution and he cared about its people. He made independence in reporting the norm, not the exception. He was a Washington institution born and bred in Boston.

Ben and Sally have been friends and neighbors to Teresa and me for many years now. We've both been in awe of the remarkable way Sally cared for Ben these last difficult years, and we send Sally all our love now that Ben's at rest.