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Former Washington Post editor Benjamin Bradlee dead

Washington: Benjamin Bradlee, the man who turned The Washington Post into a global name and made history with the paper's coverage of the "Watergate" scandal, died at his home in Washington DC at the age of 93 from natural causes, the Post reported.

Bradlee, who for years had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia, served as the Post's editor during its golden age from 1965 to 1991.

With the "Watergate" scandal, The Washington Post became one of the world's leading newspapers, thanks to the skill and persistence of journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who covered it.

Its revelations about the spying activities of the Republican Party on the rival Democrats and the subsequent cover-up by the White House led to the only presidential resignation in US history, that of Richard Nixon in 1974.

"He told stories that needed to be told -- stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better. The standards of honesty, objectivity and meticulousness encouraged many to enter the profession," said US President Barack Obama in a statement following Bradlee's death Tuesday.

"For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession -- it was a public good vital to our democracy," added Obama, who in 2013 awarded Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour bestowed by the US government.

Bradlee became the editor of the Post in 1965 after the suicide of Phil Graham, the husband of Katharine Graham, who until 1979 was the publisher of the newspaper started by her father.

Even in Graham's presence, Bradlee maintained his brusque style, feet on the table and swear words that made him a formidable presence in the newsroom.

Bradlee brought in discipline in writing, changed styles and raised the quality of news.

His first big test came with the publication of the secret Pentagon Papers which revealed how the US government had lied about its involvement in the Vietnam War and that many senior officials considered it a lost cause.

It did not take much for Bradlee to convince Graham of the need to publish the papers, despite threats from the Nixon White House which tried to block their publication.

Eventually, the US Supreme Court ruled that the papers could be published.

During his time as editor of the Post, Bradlee doubled the payroll of 600 employees and the budget dedicated to news gathering was increased from $3 million to $60 million.

During the last 23 years of Bradlee's editorship, the Post's daily circulation increased from 446,000 copies to 802,000, and the paper won 23 Pulitzer Prizes.

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