Distinguished Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt died in a New York hospital on December 6 after a heart attack. He was 66.
Mr. Hiatt had begun a visit to his daughter in Brooklyn on November 24. He had been out shopping for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner when he went into a sudden cardiac arrest and never awakened.
Hiatt’s early career
As a student at Harvard University, Mr. Hiatt wrote for the campus newspaper, The Crimson. After graduating in 1977, he worked for the Atlanta Journal and the Washington Star. He joined the Post in 1988. He and his wife Shapiro were assigned to Tokyo in 1987 as co-bureau chiefs and four years later assumed similar roles in Moscow, just as the old Soviet Union collapsed.
His significant contributions during the past four decades
Post reporter Matt Schudel, in its December 7 edition, quotes the newspaper’s publisher and chief executive Frederick J. Ryan as saying: “Fred Hiatt built friendships throughout the company and made immense contributions as a writer, an editor, and mentor to so many throughout the Post. His legacy also spans the globe: Few journalists have rivaled his idealism and complete dedication to democracy and human rights worldwide.”
New York Times correspondent Katherine Q. Seelye said Mr. Hiatt “used his position atop one of the nation’s most visible and influential opinion platforms to support justice as well as human rights.”
Ms. Seelye noted that Fred was a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for his editorial writing over two decades. Mr. Hiatt, she wrote, “was perhaps best known for leading the Post’s outraged response in 2018 to the abduction and murder of one of its Saudi contributors, Jamal Khashoggi”. (That year, Mr. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at a Saudi consulate in Turkey as he sought a visa to return to his native country).
Notable Washington Post recollections of Fred Hiatt
Longtime Post publisher Donald Graham: “If you are reading this in the Opinion Section of the online Post or, in an old-fashioned way, in a printed newspaper, you are reading it in a place crucially shaped for the past 22 years by one great editor, Fred Hiatt.
“In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince tried to explain (absurdly) that Jamal Khashoggi had been killed during a scuffle with a Saudi consulate security team (during a visit to the consulate as he sought permission to return to his home country).
“Fred Hiatt’s column began and ended with similar words,” Donald Graham added. “Why bring a bone-saw to the consulate for Khashoggi’s interview? A member of the consulate’s security team had brought along such an instrument and used it to dismember their victim (Mr. Khashoggi).
“It was my incredible good fortune,” Publisher Graham concluded, to work with fine journalists over the years “starting with Meg Greenfield, Ben Bradley, and Leonard Downie Jr. I knew most of their contemporaries on other newspapers. I never knew a better editor than Fred Hiatt, nor a better person.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More