Driving on a downtown DC street this week we waited at a stop sign for a pedestrian to cross in front of us. The man, looking in his 50s, had short gray hair and was wearing khaki trousers and black windbreaker jacket. Propelling him forward was a big black backpack that looked heavy enough to be carrying a couple of dozen books.
He looked like one of those middle-level staffers at one of the small think tanks in the Dupont Circle area. On second look, it was Marty Baron, moving as purposefully as you might expect from the hard-driving executive editor of the Washington Post.
When Ben Bradlee died in 2014, Loren Jenkins, a foreign correspondent during Bradlee’s tenure, remembered how the young men at the Post began adopting their boss’s upscale style, including shopping at the London-based haberdasher he favored. “Slowly, we all started buying our shirts at Turnbull & Asser, and somehow it just became de rigeur,” he said.
With all their style differences, two great editors who enjoyed going after the big story. Hollywood helped make Bradlee famous with Jason Robards playing him in All the President’s Men and winning an Oscar; Baron was played by Liev Schreiber in Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture.
Washington is not a place where men’s fashions matter much—most men dress fairly conservatively and don’t try to stand out. Bradlee was the outlier—the Washingtonian described him in the 1970s as looking like a bookie and in the 1980s as looking like an international jewel thief. Baron looks like he’s too focused on doing good journalism to ever look in the mirror.