Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw its newsroom through such pivotal moments in journalism as the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal, was as much a word wizard as a mentor. Once described as the “last of the lion-king newspaper editors” by former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Phil Bronstein, Bradlee, who died Oct. 21 at the age of 93, was known for having a sharp tongue for critics, in addition to charm and tenacity.  

Bradlee led the Post from 1968 to 1991. Under his watch, the paper won 18 Pulitzer prizes and expanded its news bureaus across the U.S. and around the world. His funeral Wednesday in Washington drews scores of colleagues, friends, politicians and luminaries. Here are some of Bradlee’s more memorable moments in the newspaper business:

On “gotcha” journalism: “If an investigative reporter finds out that someone has been robbing the store, that may be 'gotcha' journalism, but it's also good journalism.”

On veracity: “You never monkey with the truth.”

In response to a newspaper publisher who called Bradlee “arrogant:” “Editors do run the risk of appearing arrogant if they choose to disagree with anybody who calls them arrogant. You sound like one of those publishers who aims to please his pals in the community and give them what they want. No one will call you arrogant that way. No one will call you a newspaperman, either.”

On hard work: “A newspaper is not referred to as the ‘Daily Miracle’ for nothing. It takes the talents of a great many people working a great many hours at the top of their game before an editor can put his feet on the desk and accept congratulations.”

On choosing battles: “Pick your fights. Don’t duck ’em, but don’t fight second-rate opponents.”

On time management: “There really isn’t enough time in the day to convene a task force on every little decision. If you’re publishing 140,000 words five times a day, you’ve got to decide. And you’ve got to get it off the table and get on to the next one before you go crazy. You’ll never go home and you won’t be in any shape when you get home.”

On using anonymous sources: “Sure, some journalists use anonymous sources just because they’re lazy, and I think editors ought to insist on more precise identification even if they remain anonymous.”

On life: “Nose down, ass up and moving steadily forward into the future.”

On skepticism: “No matter how many spin doctors were provided by no matter how many sides of how many arguments, from Watergate on, I started looking for the truth after hearing the official version of a truth.”