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How did Barry Sussman die? Editor was the unsung hero of Washington Post's Watergate expose

His detail-filled 1974 book ‘The Great Cover-Up’ was tagged as the most authoritative retelling of the Watergate story
Barry Sussman was a Washington Post editor for 22 years (Photo by Wikimedia)
Barry Sussman was a Washington Post editor for 22 years (Photo by Wikimedia)

Former Washington Post editor Barry Sussman, who oversaw the beginning of the Watergate scandal, passed away at 87; just two weeks before the 50th anniversary of the break-in, an interlocking political scandals of the administration of then US President Richard M Nixon were revealed following the arrest of five burglars at Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate office-apartment-hotel complex in Washington on June 17, 1972. Reporter Carl Bernstein tagged him as a reliable reference source while investigating the break-in.

Born on July 19, 1934, Barry was a Washington Post editor for 22 years, serving as city editor, special Watergate editor, and co-founder of the Washington Post/ABC News opinion poll. From 2003 to 2012, he took up the role of editor at Nieman Watchdog, a website of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard that encouraged investigative reporting. During his stint on the website, he wrote on the page, “Great questions are a key to great journalism. But often, in the press of deadlines, the flood of raw information, manipulated news, deliberate misinformation and just plain junk, great questions are hard to develop. The premise of watchdog journalism is that the press is a surrogate for the public.”


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David Halberstam mentioned in ‘The Powers that Be’, “Before anyone else at the Post, Sussman saw Watergate as a larger story, saw that the individual events were part of a larger pattern, the result of hidden decisions from somewhere in the top of government which sent smaller men to run dirty errands.”

Following the news of his demise, people started pouring in their condolences. One user tweeted, “Barry Sussman, R.I.P.” Another one wrote, “#ThankYou for the role you played in reporting #Watergate, Barry Sussman. #InquiringMinds desperately need to know the facts..”



A peek into his career and personal life

Barry was born in Brooklyn to Samuel and Esther Sussman. His father, Samuel, was a civil servant, and his mother was a homemaker. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree, he worked for an advertising agency.

He was hired for his first newspaper job in 1960 at The Bristol Herald Courier, a small daily in Virginia, where in 15 months he rose from reporter to managing editor. The Post hired him in 1965 as an editor. He was named the DC editor in 1971.