WASHINGTON (AP) – Fred Hiatt, a foreign correspondent who in 2000 became the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, died in a New York hospital on Monday. He was 66 years old.
According to the Post, his wife, Margaret “Bear” Shapiro, said Hiatt went into cardiac arrest while visiting his daughter in Brooklyn, NY on November 24 and did not regain consciousness.
The Post said that for two decades Hiatt wrote or edited nearly all of the newspaper’s unsigned editorials – over 1,000 a year. He also edited the opinion columns published on the opinion page and the newspaper’s website.
“Over the past two decades, Fred’s leadership has made The Post’s editorial page the most important in the news industry,” the newspaper said, citing Washington Post editor and managing director Frederick J. Ryan Jr. in a statement to staff. “A 40-year veteran of The Post, he has built friendships across the company and has made tremendous contributions as a writer, editor and mentor to many across the organization. His legacy also spans the globe: few journalists have matched his idealism and total dedication to the causes of democracy and human rights around the world.
Hiatt was a Post reporter for 15 years covering regional policy and national security and was a correspondent in Tokyo and Moscow before joining the editorial page in 1996. Four years later he took over the editorial page.
Under his leadership, Hiatt has strived to maintain The Post’s traditional editorial positions, including support for civil rights, fiscal responsibility, and international human rights. He oversaw the Post’s editorials calling on China to allow dissent and release its political prisoners, and advocated for abortion rights and campaign finance reform.
His tenure was not without controversy.
On September 11, 2001, he and his deputy, Jackson Diehl, responded to the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the New York World Trade Center with an editorial that compared them to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which threw the United States into the Second World War. . Critics would later blame Hiatt for helping lead the march towards war in Iraq.
Hiatt had an eye for cultivating editorial talent and put together a team in the internet age that produced some of the website’s most read articles. According to the newspaper, three columnists won the Pulitzer for their commentary under the direction of Hiatt: Colbert I. King in 2003, Eugene Robinson in 2009 and Kathleen Parker in 2010. Hiatt himself was a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing.
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