David Broder of the Washington Post passed away Wednesday from complications due to diabetes. He was 81 years old.
Broder’s amazing career was well into its fifth decade. He published a piece on the Obama Administration’s handling of the Egyptian crisis just a month ago. Broder’s resume as a reporter stretches all the way back to the first President of Egypt, who took over from its final king in 1953, when a young David Broder was cutting his teeth working for a local paper in Illinois. It’s quite an achievement to have a career that can be measured in Middle Eastern despots.
It is fitting to turn to the pages of Broder’s longtime headquarters, the Washington Post, for an extensive tribute by Adam Bernstein. By way of adding my own encomium, I can note that I usually knew Broder’s take on an issue even if I hadn’t read his column yet, because he was so influential on other journalists. He didn’t become “dean of the Washington press corps” in a coup.
A conservative reader could find much to disagree with in Broder’s analysis, but also much to admire in his work ethic. If he ever went off half-cocked, it must have been sometime in the late 1950s. He was meticulous about exploring the issues of the day, in sharp contrast to a modern media that has become very good at ignoring stories it doesn’t want to cover. Especially during the Clinton years, it seemed as if Broder noticing a story was pretty much the end of mainstream media efforts to avoid it.
He was famously dismissive of political spin doctors, sadly ending his days in the company of reporters who are political spin doctors. He didn’t like the way campaign operatives co-opted the news, which didn’t exactly play hard-to-get. You didn’t have to like all of his conclusions to admire the way he reached them.
The old-school reporters are sadly leaving us, as the full courses of their busy lives conclude. It coincides with the fading of the Old Left, a generation of honest liberals replaced by the carnivorous Alinskyite operatives of the New Left, who value power above all else. David Broder lived long enough to chronicle both the rise of a system he sincerely believed in, and the early stages of its utter collapse. He owned neither rose-colored glasses or a blindfold. Washington will not be the same without him.