Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee, a Lion, Roars at a Circus Flak

Ben Bradlee was editor of The Washington Post, my local newspaper, from 1968 to 1991.

He came in when the town was just starting an epic rise, and he stepped down from the Post just before the rise of the Internet shot that paper, and the entire news industry, to hell.

Part of good living is having good timing in your profession, and as a newspaper man, Ben Bradlee's was perfect.

The man was a lion with balls the size of mangoes and a wit as sharp as a straight razor. He did not suffer fools well, and so was rarely surrounded by them.

And did he like flaks? No, not much.  The above letter to a circus public relations man (for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus), is a masterpiece!


Peter Apps said...

Commendably clear !

These days it would have been watered down to nearly meaningless as it passed through the PR and legal departments.

I wonder what was in Read's letter to have stimulated such a response ?

PBurns said...

The Washington Post did give Mr. Bloom his puff piece... when he died. I think you can under understand how the puffery of a carnival barker and an ad man might clash with that of a newspaper man. Barnum would see people tickets "to the Egress," but that will not work with a man who has read a dictionary and seen the elephant in the wild in both Africa and Asia.

Peter Apps said...

Thanks for the link, Patrick. Bloom certainly had one of those old fashioned interesting lives, but not up to Washington Post standards by a considerable margin.

Maybe the "historic personality" was a third person who Read and Bloom were both promoting ?