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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

David Broder, Washington Post columnist, dies at 81

By T. Rees Shapiro

David Broder, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and one of the most respected writers on national politics for four decades, died Wednesday in Arlington of complications from diabetes. He was 81.

Mr. Broder was often called the dean of the Washington press corps -- a nickname he earned in his late 30s in part for the clarity of his political analysis and the influence he wielded as a perceptive thinker on political trends in his books, articles and television appearances.

He covered every presidential convention since 1956 and was widely regarded as the political journalist with the best-informed contacts.

Former Post executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee called Mr. Broder "the best political correspondent in America. David knew politics from the back room up -- the mechanics of politics, the county and state chairmen -- whereas most Washington reporters knew it at the Washington level."

Mr. Broder was praised at the highest echelons of political power. Former vice president Walter F. Mondale said Mr. Broder was the "preeminent political journalist and columnist in the country. He was the best. He was solid and careful. His sources and his understanding were so deep."

Here is a statement from the Broder family:

"David spent his professional life with political leaders at all levels of society, from precinct captains to Presidents, on Capitol Hill, and in State Houses and City Halls in all fifty states. His greatest admiration and respect were always for the voters themselves, who would answer a knock on their door, let him into their homes, and share their observations on the issues of the day. Their passion for this country and its possibilities mirrored his own. To the countless thousands who, since 1953, inspired his curiosity and informed his reporting, we offer our thanks."

A statement from President Obama said that Mr. Broder earned "a well-deserved reputation as the most respected and incisive political commentator of his generation."

"Through all his success," the statement continues, "David remained an eminently kind and gracious person, and someone we will dearly miss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this difficult time."

(Go here to read the full statements.)

Mr. Broder's last column, which ran on Feb. 6, can be viewed here.

A full obituary is here.

If you have any thoughts or memories of Mr. Broder, please leave them below. In the meantime, you can scroll through a list of Mr. Broder's articles here.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | March 9, 2011; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Ben Bradlee, David Broder, Washington Post  
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Next: Statements on the death of Post columnist David Broder

Comments

No doubt the Post will continue to publish the Dean's column. We've been begging you for years to retire him. Why would they stop now? I expect the column will continue to retain its immediacy and relevance.

Posted by: jaytingle | March 9, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I was always honored by David's friendship and support. Besides being a giant of our journalistic profession, and an inspiration of all of us who toiled at it, he was a generous and kind colleague. I will treasure the time we spent together, often on the run along the campaign trail. We will all miss a wonderful friend and a legend.
Bob Franken

Posted by: bobfranken | March 9, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I will always remember David Broder as a kind man with no pretensions. I hosted him for lunch when he spoke at the University of North Carolina several years ago, and he was extremely gracious to everyone he met. He was always my favorite columnist, too, because of his insight and clear explanations.

Posted by: TomBowers | March 9, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Way back in 1985, I sent him a story I did, and he sent me a nice note back. He inspired me early in my career to go out and knock on doors and ask voters what they thought. And then when I became a flack, he was always polite. I think even when he thought he was being fed BS, he was polite.

Posted by: GaryRKarr | March 9, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

As an avid reader of the post for years, I had no idea that Mr. Broder suffered from the debilitating disease Diabetes. I enjoyed reading Mr. Broder's opt-eds over the years, which most often had a sense of character and style. As with most good journalist in the industry, he will be highly missed.

May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in knowing that Mr. Broder served his purpose in life well.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | March 9, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

jaytingle, get up on the wrong side of the bed today, dude?

Posted by: nomorewholefoods | March 9, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

As a teenager, I grew up reading David Broder, Art Buchwald and Mike Royko. The world will not see their likes again for some time. And perhaps never will since we now live in an age that thinks political discourse entails yelling and name calling. Mr. Broder always gave a fresh perspective on the political happenings and I always appreciated his intelligence and independence. May his family find peace.

Posted by: bobhw51 | March 9, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Sir you will be missed.
God bless and rest in peace.

Posted by: hayden1 | March 9, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Decades after traveling on the presidental campaign trail with him, I remember him as much for his humanity as his reporting and commentary. He was a gentleman.

Posted by: Maxglen1 | March 9, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

He was insightful and very knowledgeable.

Today's political commentators/pundits should watch his tapes to see how it should be done.

Posted by: rlj1 | March 9, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

He was unassuming and unpretentious. We rode the Orange Line train together sometimes, and once another passenger -- a blue-collar guy -- asked him, "Haven't I seen you on TV?" David said that, yes, he was sometimes on Sunday talk shows. (I think he had more appearances on those shows than any other guest.) And he and the other passenger started chatting about the issues of the day, not Mr. Broder the Expert and a fan but just two guys talking, each respectful of the other.
In the newsroom, of course, he made no more effort to impress. He owned the world's most crammed little office, overflowing with papers and books he wanted to get to.
He was a sweet guy as well as a thorough professional.

Posted by: jeff55b | March 9, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

What a loss to journalism, the Post, to public civility, and thoughtful discourse. Mr. Broder was earnest in his desire to know and to communicate and to learn. I had the pleasure of attending a political rally in Winston-Salem several years ago which Broder was covering as a reporter. I was amazed when the candidate left, when instead of dutifully following the entourage, he stuck around and asked us on the cleanup crew what we thought of the race, the candidate, the challenges, and - more broadly - the country. No clock running for a next appointment, it seemed, just a brain and a heart at work trying to listen. If only more public servants were as dutiful in working to enlighten and encourage democracy. It made a lasting impression, and still does. Thank you, Mr. Broder, for sharing your gifts. God bless you and yours.

Posted by: jee730 | March 9, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Broder was a "true" journalist. He reported the facts. His opinion was given on as needed basis. The "jounalists" today could take a lesson from him. Factual reporting has been deleted. I have followed news and newsmakers since 1952. I miss Huntley, Brinkley and Cronkite and now sadly Broder. Broder represented the class and distinction of a newsperson and his voice had a calming effect. His style lent credence to his topics without the perverbial "I think" that precedes comments by the new age reporters. He will be sorely missed.

Posted by: fyneberg | March 9, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

There never has been, and never will be, another like him.

Posted by: NoelEpstein | March 9, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I met David Broder during the 1976 presidential primaries when I wrote about him on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. David was a great reporter, and I discovered he was an even greater guy as we traveled across New Hampshire with Moe Udall, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. I ended the story with a voter asking David who would win. His answer— "I don’t know” – isn’t the type of response that would get him on today’s cable-TV shows. But it was just such honesty over his career that earned David Broder the respect of his colleagues and of his readers. - Ron Shafer

Posted by: ronshafer | March 9, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

When I was in college in the ancient 70's I came upon D. Broder in the college paper. I never figured out if he was a Democrat or Republican. Today's journalists could learn a lesson from that.

Posted by: Mitchavery7 | March 9, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I grew up reading David Broder's articles and columns. He taught us more about politics and the power of human observation than any journalist around. We will all miss his wisdom. May he rest in peace.

Posted by: AllysonB | March 9, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

As someone now 62 I watched, listened to and read David Broder almost all of my life. In the 1960's and the years since he was one of many fine print and TV Journalists we all listened to and respected without question. In the last few years, he was almost unique, sadly - a reporter of the political facts and trends and observations, pure and simple - an old school newspaper reporter. I will miss Mr. Broder for his contributions to our understanding of what was happening in our world. My prayers and thoughts go to his family. They, I'm sure are sad, but they should be very proud.

Posted by: asleeponarock | March 9, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I was raised in a newspaper family, David Broder was held up as an example of a great journalist. Throughout my life I read his columns and watched him on TV whenever possible. You could trust him and if you disagreed with him, you took the time to reevaluate your position. I'm sure the people on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan will miss him greatly.

Posted by: doubleduece | March 9, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I also became a member of Davids fan club many years ago, and the one thing that hooked me from the beginning was I felt like he was talking to me, softly, patiently but with purpose. David taught me politics. I finally met David at Howard Deans HQ here in Manchester, and I knew I just shook hands with the best there ever was. I felt sad for him when Mary McGrory passed. Now I feel sad for all of us.
God Bless David and his family.

Posted by: JamesNH | March 9, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

David Broder was a unique individual a
journalist who could touch anyone's heart &
soul with questions,quips and leave that person knowing he made a new friend. By the
way on a campaign trail that almost next to impossible. But David did it with unabashed
style and gentleness of spirit. His fight
with diabetes made him my unsung hero. He
gave me the courage and strenght when i had
neither he held me up invisibily each and
everyday, by just being David who had papers
and books in his office as high as the tower
of babal. I am going to miss seeing David
in his cub's jacket. Right now i'm envisioning his cubicle, his computer, yes!
my version of the tower of babal, books, papers bless that mess! and on his chair
his beloved blue & red cubs jacket.I got a
pretty good idea David would want to sign off with us all remembering him in this way.
Thank you Broder family for sharing him
with us all through the years! We are a blessed people because David walked, talked
on this earth and made the common man feel
so uncommonly good!.....

Posted by: jrabideau001 | March 9, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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