The politicians, the press and the lies

Ben Bradlee is a reference point in journalism. He is perhaps best known internationally as the executive editor whose newspaper conducted an investigation into the Watergate break-in that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. But, more than that, under his leadership from 1965 to 1991, the Washington Post, from a largely unknown local paper, became one of the world’s most important newspapers and helped changed the way that the news media and power behave. Even before Watergate, the Washington Post and The New York Times published the so-called Pentagon Papers in 1971, revealing details of America’s involvement in Vietnam against strong government opposition and proving that newspapers could indeed be a check on those who exerted the state’s power. Both in the Watergate and Pentagon Papers stories, Bradlee enjoyed the full support of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham. Today, at 82, Bradlee is the Washington Post’s «editor at large» («Whatever that means,» he adds with a laugh) and goes to the newspaper every day. He was in Athens last week and agreed to talk with Kathimerini. The discussion ranged from the political situation in the USA, the Iraq war, the state of the press today and lies. «What an awful time in the world, isn’t it?» he said with a broad grin, and the interview began.