The Newspaperman: The Life And Times Of Ben Bradlee Review - Intimate, Honest, Revealing

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The Newspaperman: The Life And Times Of Ben Bradlee, from HBO and Kunhardt Films, presents Ben Bradlee, a trusted friend and confident of President John F. Kennedy, in his time the most feared editor of Washington Post, and an admitted womanizer.

With cameos from many of the most recognizable names in print and broadcast journalism, along with his wife, Sally Quinn, and sons Quinn Bradlee, from his marriage to Ms. Quinn and Ben Bradlee, Jr., from his first wife, Ms. Jean Saltonstall.

The Newspaper Man begins, like any good story at a beginning. Bradlee, in his own words tell the story of his early life, “not rich, not from beacon Hill, and not very smart,” he said about his family. He chronicles his early life with highs and lows of his existence.


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With small references to his family, Bradlee, as a child contracted polio and was paralyzed for some time, talks about his father and how he cared for him during that season. Bradlee, also talks about his time at Harvard University and his participation in a study to determine how healthy adult men lived.

In The Newspaper Man, we also see a man who had a desire to move his career along. After graduating from College, he married, one the same day, Ms. Jean Saltonstall and also on the same day, left for a Commissioned Naval officer positioned in a shooting war. Bradlee like war and was quick to describe it.

After the war he flatlined in the employment search. Determined to follow journalism, he emptied the family savings account and moved to Washington. Nearly immediately he was working, as a crime beat reporter for $80.00 a week and about 30 bylines a week or more. The experience of learning how to write tight headlines on deadline was invaluable.

The Newspaper Man chronicles his career, and he say it, hard work and luck, the right place at the right time, not afraid of speaking up, even when an “offer” appeared casual or off the cuff.

Of course the Ben Bradlee, the world knows is the Editor of the Washington Post, a by the book, get it right, where’s the story, and more importantly one who made a religion of the First Amendment. Adamant about the rights of the citizen to read what they desired and equally adamant regarding the journalist job to be truthful to the story. Following the story at all costs is or should be the heart, the lifeblood of every journalist.

Before the Washington Post, and one could say the celebrity sensation of Ben Bradlee, he was the Editor of Newsweek and a friend to President John F. Kennedy. The intimate moments and never before seen footage of Jack and Jackie, and Ben and Toni, Bradlee’s second wife is worth watching.

Seeing Kennedy, with Caroline’s pony Macaroni, trying to nibble the shoulder of the President, the weekend before Dallas, is a poignant moment of a man, a family and a national heartache that I don’t think has healed yet.  


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Of course The Newspaper Man, details the ups and downs of the Washington Post Newsroom, Watergate, The Janet Cooke Scandal, the Pentagon Papers, exciting and depressing times in journalism.

The Newspaperman: The Life And Times Of Ben Bradlee are heartfelt, poignant, honest, and told from an insider’s view.  The Newspaperman: The Life And Times Of Ben Bradlee  is premiering on HBO December 4, 2017. It is a must see. Record it, keep it, watch it again.

Below is the Press Release.

Sometimes referred to as the country’s “most dangerous editor,” Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee was largely credited with taking down President Richard Nixon in 1974 after the Post broke the Watergate story, exposing the largest political scandal in American history.

Told primarily in his own words, THE NEWSPAPERMAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN BRADLEE is an intimate portrait of this formidable man, tracing his remarkable ascent from a young Boston boy stricken with polio to the one of the most pioneering and consequential journalistic figures of the 20th century when it debuts MONDAY, DEC. 4, exclusively on HBO.

The documentary will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and affiliate portals.

Ben Bradlee’s career spanned the most critical moments of the second half of the 20th century. As a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in the ‘50s, Bradlee cut his teeth reporting from the frontlines of wars in the Middle East. In Washington, he befriended young Massachusetts senator John F. Kennedy and later gained unprecedented access to the White House.

By the ‘70s, he had transformed the Washington Post from an undistinguished local paper into a national powerhouse, publishing the Pentagon Papers, breaking Watergate and challenging the New York Times for supremacy.

Taking on the political establishment and ushering in a new era of investigative journalism, the tough-talking, chain-smoking Bradlee came to epitomize the modern newspaper editor. Today, when the First Amendment and the press are under constant attack, Bradlee’s fortitude in the face of withering criticism has never been more relevant.

THE NEWSPAPERMAN delves into the highs and lows of Bradlee’s personal life and career, and features previously unseen home movies, photographs, archival footage and interviews with a who’s who of American journalism, Washington insiders, and family and friends who knew him best, including: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Quinn Bradlee, Courtland Milloy, David Maraniss, David Remnick, Don Graham, George Vaillant, Henry Kissinger, Ben Bradlee Jr., Jim Hoagland, Jim Lehrer, John Dean, Norman Lear, Richard Cohen, Robert Kaiser, Robert Redford, Sally Bedell Smith, Sally Quinn, Tina Brown and Tom Brokaw.

John Maggio (“Looking for Lincoln”) directs; Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Jim: The James Foley Story”) produce. In addition to “Jim: The James Foley Story,” Kunhardt Films’ HBO credits include the Emmy®-nominated “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words,” the Emmy®-nominated “Gloria: In Her Own Words” and theEmmy®-winning “Teddy: In His Own Words.”

THE NEWSPAPERMAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN BRADLEE is a co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films; executive produced by Peter Kunhardt and Richard Cohen; produced by Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt; co-produced by Sophie Goulding & Quinn Bradlee; directed by John Maggio. For HBO: senior producer, Jacqueline Glover; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

Image courtesy of HBO.

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