Former WaPo Editor Ben Bradlee: Pro-Hillary, Anti-War, Pro-Murdoch?

November 28th, 2007 1:16 PM

Ben Bradlee, the longtime executive editor of The Washington Post, sounded off with Radar Online media critic Charles Kaiser. He professed to be unimpressed with Hillary’s team, denounced Carl Bernstein in French, praised Rupert Murdoch’s skill at newspaper publishing, and denounced wars as something America does perpetually "to keep the standing army in good condition." First, the Hillary questions:

What do you think of Hillary?
Well, I'm not as against her as some other people under my roof. Sally [Quinn, his wife]—I find the women are really very, very strongly against her.

What's that about?
I don't know. I don't think Hillary is a completely sympathetic person. But she is hard-working, she is monolithically devoted to policy—she's a wonk. I'm not terribly impressed with the people around her, though. Some of them I'm actively unimpressed with. You know, you can say about [Bill] Clinton, he had a hell of a good team. And Jimmy Carter had a hell of a good team. And you don't see those around now.

Bradlee loved Bob Woodward and his hard work, but he doesn't remember Carl Bernstein fondly:

And what did you know Carl Bernstein as?
A fainéant. A guy who does nothing.

But also a bit of a debrouillard [someone who can adapt to any situation].
Yes he was. And he was playing the guitar. Smoking a lot of dope. His talent as a writer was quite obvious. He was a good writer. You couldn't get him out of the office.

He had no other life?

He had no other life. Well, he liked to fuck, I think. But he didn't have much taste at first.

Maybe the most surprising assertion is his support for Murdoch's skill as a newspaper publisher:

What do you think the Wall Street Journal will look like a year from now?
I don't worry about it. I think [Rupert] Murdoch is a better journalist than the rest of you do.

Really? Why do you say that?
Well, I think because he's smart, and he's not going to fill it up with pussy stories. And he's going to get good reporters. I think he does not want to fail on this.

Bradlee displayed his typical liberal "anti-war" stripes at the end:

Were you in favor of the Iraq war before it started?
No. Wars are not for me, really. I don't see what they solve. I'm very proud of World War II. That's what's called a good war. But none of the more recent ones—certainly Vietnam ... Jesus Christ, I mean how would history have been different.

Do you think we'll still be in Iraq into the next Administration?
I don't know. It seems to me we have to do one of these things at all times to keep the standing army in good condition.

Well, that's the problem—that we have this gigantic defense establishment. I think we now spend more on defense than all the other countries in the world. [Actually, it's more than the next 14 countries put together.] Isn't that a little ridiculous?
It is—this isn't my field of expertise. My president wouldn't do that. But on the other hand, my presidents have done that—so I don't know how to get out of that one.Are you surprised the Washington Post [editorial page] has supported this fucking war for so long?

Oh, we always do. We like wars. How long do you think we supported Vietnam?Doesn't this movie [Iraq] look a lot like that movie [Vietnam]now?
Yeah, it does. Except I don't think we're going to get in as deep. I mean 100,000 is one thing, 130,000—but I'm sure we've peaked. [America had more than 500,000 troops in Vietnam at the peak of its involvement.]