The late Ben Bradlee “was an intriguing man,” Robert Redford has written in a brief statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter. “Bold, strong-willed and smart with a wicked and sometimes perverse sense of humor. He was unique in a world of so much conventional wisdom. With a sailor’s swagger and a tart tongue to match, he forged a new type of character as editor-in-chief of a newspaper in a time of change. It was a world I never expected was possible from just a newspaper. It was 1974, and Watergate was about to happen. To Bradlee combat was sport and he was a very good sport.” Wait…Watergate was “about” to happen in ’74? It had been happening since June 1972. The only thing left in ’74 was Nixon’s resignation, which finally happened in August.
This is the Bradlee speech from All The President’s Men that everyone remembers: “Once when I was reporting, Lyndon Johnson‘s top guy gave me the word they were looking for a successor to J. Edgar Hoover. I wrote it and the day it appeared Johnson called a press conference and appointed Hoover head of the FBI for life. And when he was done, he turned to his top guy and said, ‘Call Ben Bradlee and tell him fuck you.’ I took a lot of static for that — everyone said, ‘You did it, Bradlee, you screwed up — you stuck us with Hoover forever.’ I screwed up but I wasn’t wrong.”
This is the Bradlee speech from All The President’s Men that no one remembers: “Either of you want a drink or should I order? Because…because our cocks are on the chopping block and you’ve got to be sure that you’re not just dealing with people who hate Richard Nixon and want to get him through us. You see, I don’t give a shit who’s President — I really don’t. It’s an adversary situation between them and us and it’s always gonna be. I never had a closer friend than Jack Kennedy and once I printed something that pissed him off and for seven months I didn’t exist.”