The Washington Post announced today that 81-year-old political columnist David Broder has died of complications from diabetes. The dean of Washington journalists (an unofficial title he carried most of his professional life) was one of the most important chroniclers and explainers of the American presidency for over half a century. Since the 1960s, he was a fixture on NBC’s Meet the Press, on which he made his 400th appearance in 2008 (above). He helped create an emerging, and hugely influential, profession: the modern electronic-media pundit.
Broder, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, was a scholar of elections and of the mechanics of power in Washington. Over his career, he became a valuable resource in understanding not just how political currents were moving in America but how the inner circles of Washington perceived those events. Whatever your political persuasions—or your opinions of the political elites and Beltway media Broder was so central to—it was hard to not develop and interest in news and American politics without one of your early references being Broder’s analyses on Sunday morning (not to mention in his Post columns).
Broder’s writing in the Post helped tell the story of the last American half-century; his presentation of that work in the larger media defined the huge role of TV pundits in shaping that story. RIP.