Editor in Grief
If Woodward and Bernstein are like the Harry Potter and Ron Weasley of Washington DC, Bradlee's their Dumbledore.
He guides them down the right path, while expecting them to do all the hard work themselves. And he's old and gray, too. All that missing is a beard. And a robe. And a staff. And magical powers…
He gives Woodward and Bernstein grief because he has to. It's his job as editor. Every time Woodward and Bernstein turn in a new article, Bradlee wants more. He often gives them the reality check they need.
BRADLEE: You haven't got it. A librarian and a secretary saying Hunt looked at a book. That's not good enough.
He wants more sources, more information, and most importantly: more names. It gets frustrating for everyone, especially Bradlee, who snaps at one point:
BRADLEE: Goddammit! When is somebody gonna go on the record in this story?
You know someone choked on their coffee when he yelled like that. But the reason he gets so frustrated is because he actually trusts the younger reporters:
BRADLEE: I can't do the reporting for my reporters, which means I have to trust them. And I hate trusting anybody.
If their story turns out to be a crock of manure, it's Bradlee's butt on the line. He's the face of the Washington Post, and you know he didn't get there by fudging his way to the top. He knows the value of good journalism, and he expects all of his reporters to live up to his standards.
As Woodward and Bernstein encounter more dead ends, everyone gets frustrated, Bradlee included. But by this point, he trusts them whole-heartedly. They haven't let him down yet. So even though they don't have the concrete evidence he would prefer, Bradlee utters a line that you know Dumbledore would say if the Harry Potter books weren't targeted toward youngsters:
BRADLEE: F*** it. Let's stand by the boys.
It's a final vote of confidence that is priceless to Woodward and Bernstein.
Bradlee would be the type of teacher who has terrible scores on RateMyProfessor because he actually expects people to do their work. But under his guidance, Woodward and Bernstein excel.