SIR – I recently re-read Ben Bradlee’s memoir (1995). The most well-known editor of any newspaper died last year aged 93. Nice photo of him on the cover, full of life and battle hardened. I like to quote from it and this was during Watergate before President Nixon resigned from the White House in 1974.
A Washington Post reporter phoned Ben at home one night if they could run a story? He replied: ‘What story? I shouted. Just because the Chief Justice of the United States comes to his door in the dead of night in his jammies waving a gun (He kept it half-hidden behind the door as he talked to the reporters) at two Washington Post reporters in the middle of a vital legal case involving the Washington Post, you guys think it’s a story?’ That was a no then.
He wasn’t always shouting at his reporters. There was a serious and fun atmosphere in the paper. It was a fishbowl in Washington DC in his time as editor. Maybe it still is.
It is one of the smaller and beautiful cities in the US. He had social friends in the media, politics and the CIA. His sister-in-law Mary Pinchot Meyer’s husband was for a time in the CIA. She was shot in what is believed was a professional hit in late 1964 after the Warren Commission report on President Kennedy’s assassination.
It wasn’t known she was a confidante and mistress to the President. Bradlee didn’t know of her being more than a friend until her death. When he and his wife went to her home to find a diary, they found a CIA man he knew who had broken in looking for it too. He didn’t look into who and why his sister-in-law was killed to keep his family safe.
A well-researched book by Peter Janney published in 2013 looked deeper into who may have killed her and the possible reasons.
In 1963 the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union with hope for peace in most of the world. They believed it was achievable, if opposing sides talked to each other.
In 2015 it is more impossible with wars in the Middle East and Africa from where millions of refugees have fled to Europe in the last five years.