HBO’s ‘Newspaperman’ hits hard in the age of fake news and attacks on the press
By Rob Lowman
“The Newspaperman,” the new documentary about the iconic editor of The Washington Post Ben Bradlee, seems to be coming out at just the right time considering the White House’s attitude toward the press.
During his career, the colorful Bradlee found himself having “a ringside seat at some of the biggest stories of the century.” At least three of them have had a lasting impact on journalism and continue to echo strongly today: the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandal, and the Janet Cooke disaster.
The first two were battles over the basic Constitutional right of freedom of the press; the third was about the press not doing its job.
Much of the documentary from director John Maggio (“Looking for Lincoln”) is taken from the newspaperman’s memoir, “A Good Life.” Bradlee himself talks about events from his life with the narration taken from a recording he made of the book.
The rest of the film is archival footage and interviews with those who knew him, including Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, New Yorker editor David Remnick, Henry Kissinger, Ben Bradlee Jr., Jim Lehrer, John Dean, Norman Lear, Richard Cohen, Robert Redford, Sally Bedell Smith, Tina Brown, Tom Brokaw, and Bradlee’s third wife, Sally Quinn.
Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, center, poses with Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward at the Washington Post in Washington, Tuesday, May 31, 2005. (AP Photo/Katherine Frey, Washington Post)
Born in 1921, Bradlee was a dashing and crusty New Englander. A Harvard grad, he loved Alfred Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent.” He saw it as a glamorous profession and eventually made himself one for Newsweek in the mid-1950s It was around this time he became friends with another Bostonian, the slightly older Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy.
Bradlee would later gain unprecedented access to the JFK White House. Kennedy […]