BEN BRADLEE IS DEAD. LONG LIVE GLENN LALL
When you live to the age of 93 you would have seen a great deal in your lifetime. Ben Bradlee, the former Executive Editor of the Washington Post not only saw a lot but was responsible for some of the most explosive scoops in newspaper history.
His name will forever be associated with the revelations about Watergate. This scandal brought down President Nixon. He was also associated with the publication of top secret dossiers about the Vietnam War.
Watergate made him immortal in newspaper history. But even without Bernstein and Woodward, Bradlee would have been a historic figure if only for the fact that he was editor of the Washington Post when it carried reports on top secret FBI files which revealed the extent and targets of FB surveillance against citizens of the United States. The FBI tried to suppress the release of the information but they were unsuccessful and shamed in the process. What these reports showed was how flagrantly and deeply involved was the government of the United States in violating the rights of citizens. It was not just a case of the government going after its enemies. Its surveillance extended much wider. Big Brother had gone overboard. The exposure by Bradlee and his team helped rein in government excesses.
In exposing official corruption and abuse of power Ben Bradlee and his contemporaries relied on sources who provided much of the material for the bombshell stories that the Washington Post ran. Deep Throat was one such valuable and faceless source. He provided the material that showed how far up the Watergate conspiracy went. Without anonymous sources, newspapers would not be able to provide the service that they do. Many of the major stories would have been buried and remained unknown had persons not come forward and provided the necessary leads. It just goes to show how the public interest is served by sources that remain anonymous.
Ben Bradlee and his contemporaries exemplified just what it means to be the public watchdog. His newspaper exposed wrongdoing, including that by the Executive arm of the government. It exposed the secret conspiracies of the government. It exposed the wrong doings.
The CBS documentary show, CBS Sunday Morning in its edition yesterday paid a brief tribute to the Ben Bradlee, the former Executive Editor of the Washington Post. It noted that “Ben Bradlee devoted his life to stripping away cloaks of deception in public life”.
Bradlee was subject to all kinds of government pressures. The government wanted him to suppress certain stories unfavorable and damaging to them. But Bradlee stuck to his creed. His job was not pander to any interests other than the people’s right to information.
Glenn Lall is Guyana’s Ben Bradlee. Like Bradlee, Glenn Lall has become a target of government pressure. The government and its cronies say nasty things about him and his editor, Adam Harris. One newspaper closely aligned to the government goes as far as constantly referring to Glenn’s editor as a house slave, a racially charged and derogatory label.
Glenn has been the victim of the PPP’s intolerance towards free expression. On the campaign trail, one PPP speaker described certain media operatives as vultures and carrion crows. No one needed to ask to whom this remark was directed.
The machinations against Glenn would have broken a lesser man. But Glenn draws his strength from the mission of the publishing profession. He knows that his job is to give the people the news that the tyrants do not want them to know about. He believes that the people should not be kept in ignorance. They should know what is going on in the country, both the good and the bad.
Glenn Lall reminds me of Ben Bradlee. Like Bradlee he trusts his reporters to do the job. He does not have to ask the editor to hang over them watching and directing their every move. Like Bradlee, Glenn Lall stands by his staff. He supports them and encourages them to go out there and get the stories that the people want.
Like Bradlee, Glenn Lall is extremely fearless. A great deal of the credit for the Watergate reporting went to Bernstein and Woodward. But the editor, Ben Bradlee, deserves just as much credit because he had to make brave decisions which he did. He was in unexplored territory in terms of the ethical issues involved in reporting some stories. But he did not back down. He made the bold decisions because the public’s right to know was paramount.
Ben Bradlee is dead. May Guyana’s equivalent, Glenn Lall, live on so that he and Kaieteur News can continue to expose Guyana’s rampant corruption, deceit, and double standards.
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