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October 26. 2014 6:32PM

Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Bradlee, B.J. and a heavenly forgiveness

I FIRST MET Ben Bradlee before I was born.

The famous Washington Post executive editor, who died last week, lived down the road from my folks in Candia when Ben had his first newspaper job, as a reporter for my father’s New Hampshire Sunday News.

This was before I was born but when I would see Ben in later years, he would confuse me with my older brother, who would ride his bike down South Road to see Ben and his wife. Clearly my brother made the more lasting impression.

One of the national obituaries about the editor made famous by Watergate, Deep Throat, the Pentagon Papers, etc., reported that Bradlee and a group of friends started the Sunday News after WW II.

Not quite. My father, B.J. McQuaid, was planning a daily newspaper with a couple of partners. But when one withdrew, B.J. and Blair Clark decided that a New Hampshire Daily News would have to wait. The Sunday News was born Oct. 6, 1946.

Their reporters included two of B.J.’s younger brothers, Joe and Elias, along with Bradlee, whose aunt may have chipped in some startup money. So, too, did a friend of B.J.’s from New York City, record producer John Hammond.

It was a wild and crazy time and these guys, most of them home from the biggest adventure of their lives, were going to show the world a thing or two. It lasted all of two years.

My father and Clark couldn’t get along. Clark, who would run CBS News and then Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 anti-war presidential campaign, bought out my father. B.J. took a job with William Loeb and the Union Leader, which in turn bought out Clark. Bradlee liked to say he was fired by the famous Bill Loeb, but it was really a layoff.

Years later, with Bradlee’s Post reporting on Watergate and Nixon’s “dirty tricks’’ squad, Loeb and B.J. flew to Washington for a feisty PBS TV show with host Martin Agronsky and Bradlee. Bradlee had visited B.J. here at the Union Leader and another Post story had resulted.

When B.J. brought that up, Bradlee said, “Bernie, you taught me to read upside down!’’

I took Bradlee to lunch after reading his best-selling autobiography. He had written kind words about Elias McQuaid, but he wrote that B.J. had “cheated’’ at golf. Them’s fighting words and Ben allowed that he “shouldn’t have written’’ them.

But I still needed to remove this stain on the family escutcheon. Ben said B.J. had been “improving his lie.’’

He couldn’t remember the name of the course but from his description I figured out that it was Derryfield. That’s my home course, and we still play free drops in your own fairway. I’m guessing Ben has now made up with B.J. on a heavenly course.




Write to Joe McQuaid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter @deucecrew.


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