BERKELEY, CA (AP) — Ben H. Bagdikian, a renowned journalist, newspaper executive, media critic and professor who helped publish the Pentagon Papers and for decades was a passionate voice for journalistic integrity, has died. He was 96.
His wife, Marlene Griffith Bagdikian, said he died Friday morning at his home in Berkeley.
His five-decade career in journalism was adventurous. In the 1950s he covered the civil rights struggle, including the Little Rock school integration crisis, and rode with an Israeli tank crew during the Suez crisis.
In the 1970s, he obtained the Pentagon Papers — a secret history of U.S. strategy and involvement in Vietnam — for the Washington Post from Daniel Ellsberg.
In 1976 Bagdikian joined the journalism faculty at UC Berkeley. He later became dean of the graduate school of journalism, retiring in 1990.
“He was The Washington Post’s conduit for the Pentagon Papers, the secret Defense Department study of decades of American duplicity in Indochina that was disclosed by the military analyst Daniel Ellsberg and published by The Post and The New York Times in 1971 in defiance of the Nixon administration’s attempts at suppression as the nation debated its deepening involvement in the war in Vietnam,” The New York Times notes.
Ben Haig Bagdikian was born on Jan. 30, 1920, in Marash, Turkey, the youngest of five children of Aram Bagdikian, a chemistry teacher, and the former Daisy Uvezian. The family fled the massacre of Armenians when Ben was an infant and made its way to America, settling in Stoneham, Mass. His mother died when he was 3, and his father became pastor of an Armenian Congregational church in Cambridge.