Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt dies aged 66

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hiatt co-edited the editorial page for 24 years before passing on editorial responsibility to Dana Milbank

The Washington Post, a US newspaper, has lost a major contributor to its opinion pages.

Fred Hiatt, the newspaper’s opinion editor and deputy executive editor, has died, aged 66.

He had recently recovered from cancer treatment, but died from an infection on Tuesday, the Post reported.

He became editor of the editorial page in 2003.

Hiatt was born in 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, and worked at the House of Representatives Press Gallery for three years before starting his career as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal in 1988.

He co-edited the Washington Post’s editorial page with Mark Whitaker before handing off editorial responsibility to Dana Milbank, a journalist, on the 21 January 2018.

Image copyright AP Image caption Hiatt co-edited the editorial page with Mark Whitaker before handing off editorial responsibility to Dana Milbank

Hiatt took on the role of opinion editor from Sept 24, 2018, following the retirement of Fred Hiatt, who had held the job since 2006.

Hiatt was frequently praised for improving the editorial page’s conservatism, moderating its content and refusing to soften its message about current events.

Of Trump, Hiatt wrote: “Such rhetoric, so outlandish by party and president, invigorates a fragmented nation, just as it forces all of us to do our best.”

Hiatt expressed “concern” over “race relations”, recalling the “debate in Michigan” over an athlete who had kneeled during the national anthem.

“After dozens of columns and hundreds of editorials, I have rarely enjoyed the thrill of contemplating a topic more deeply,” he said.

During his tenure, the Washington Post had some of its best sales of its ebook edition of The Terror Presidency, and also successfully defended its legacy editorial position on police shootings.

Hiatt was said to be battling cancer, but had recovered well and then went back to work on the editorial page in mid-February.

Video caption @FredHiatt: Write more positive, inspiring stories about our nation

‘Fond memories’

Hiatt became editorial page editor in 2003.

At the time, Todd Cogswell, who preceded him, told CNN that the Post “doesn’t do editorial boards very well”.

“It is not a page that tries to editorialise, it is a page that tries to communicate,” he said.

Hiatt expressed similar sentiments, calling it a privilege to have been editor and adding that he had “fond memories of the page”.

“I have worked and thought and written and edited for a quarter-century and they have been the most enjoyable, rewarding and exciting years of my life.”

His last column was published on 19 February. He was diagnosed with cancer in September last year.

A former close friend, Jon Meacham, said Hiatt helped change the way the US was viewed by the public by being “sometimes too restrained, sometimes too aggressive”.

He added: “He made some really risky and big bets.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hiatt was known to share anecdotes when giving a speech

It was a “pretty distinctive editorial track,” the former National Book Award-winning author said, adding that Hiatt “was never as famous as Fred Karger” – in reference to political campaigner Fred Karger.

He said that Hiatt was ahead of the curve on political campaigns, writing articles about the 1972 Richard Nixon for the far right US magazine, The American Spectator.

“I don’t think anyone else was writing about political campaigns back then,” he said.

Hiatt’s funeral will be held on Tuesday in Washington.

‘Mr. Post’

Meanwhile, Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, described Hiatt as “Mr. Post” in an interview with the BBC.

He said Hiatt was “not timid in any way, he was the pioneer of opinion journalism” and that his successor “will have to work very hard to maintain the page’s traditions”.

Hiatt’s funeral is being held at Saint George’s Roman Catholic Church, in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hiatt regularly shared anecdotes during speeches and at conferences

Steve Coll, former managing editor at The New Yorker and foreign correspondent for The New York Times, told the BBC Hiatt was “perhaps the most talented person I ever worked with”.

“He always wanted to use the pen to say things that could never be said in print,” he said.

Mr Coll described him as “someone who found perfection in people and

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