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Veteran Political Reporter David S. Broder Dies

Laura J. Nelson |
March 9, 2011 | 5:49 p.m. PST

Senior Staff Reporter

David Broder via Creative Commons.
David Broder via Creative Commons.

Venerated political journalist David S. Broder, a Pultizer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter long-known as the dean of the Washington press corps, died Wednesday of diabetes complications. He was 81.

With a a career that spanned four decades and every presidential convention since 1956, Broder was known for his clear political analysis and the influence he wielded in Washington. 

The Post and Broder both won Pulitzers for their coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. Broder received his for thoughtful, compelling analysis of why the Watergate fallout was important. 

"He will be missed," the National Press Club said in a statement Wednesday. "While he is being remembered as the 'dean of the Washington press corps,' that ultimately is too limiting, because such excellence is not confined by geography or time."

Broder was lured to the New York Times in 1965 from the smaller D.C. paper, The Washington Evening Star. When The Post's managing editor, Ben Bradlee, reeled Broder in with promises of a $19,000 salary – the highest at the paper – he became the first reporter to leave the Times for The Post.   

Broder's death has prompted an outpour of praise from reporters who remember him as persistent, thoughtful and always courteous reporter – a journalist who "began talking about retirement years ago, but it never happened." 

Diabetes kept Broder from coming to the office, but he continued to work for The Post from home. His last column appeared in The Post on Feb. 6.

Those who knew him described Broder as even-handed to a fault, a fair-minded reporter who mourned the rise of political consultants and the death of moderates. Perhaps the only crack in his neutral façade, friends said, was his love for the Chicago Cubs

"If it's possible to be humble and approachable while also having earned your place on political journalism's Mount Rushmore, then ... David Broder embodied that deft ability to be an accessible institution in our midst," wrote Michael Cavna, the paper's political cartoonist, on Wednesday.

For 40 years, Broder was the measuring stick of quality political reporting, wrote Jack Germond of the Baltimore Sun .

"For those of us who spent our careers competing with David Broder, the hardest thing to abide was the inevitable comparison," Germond wrote. "If someone said Jack Germond — or Jules Witcover or Walter Mears or whoever — 'is a pretty good political reporter,' the default response would be, 'but he’s no David Broder.' But it is a measure of Dave Broder’s personal qualities that this fact of life didn’t interfere with the warmth of his friendships with his competitors or with our feelings toward him."



 

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