Fred Hiatt, longtime editor of The Washington Post's opinion section, died Monday at a hospital in New York City. His wife, Margaret Shapiro, said he had a sudden cardiac arrest on Nov. 24, while shopping for his family's Thanksgiving dinner during a visit with their daughter in Brooklyn, and did not regain consciousness. He was 66.
Over his two decades as the Post's editorial page editor, "Hiatt was one of Washington's most authoritative and influential opinion-makers," the Post reports. "He either wrote or edited nearly every unsigned editorial published by the Post — more than 1,000 a year — and edited the opinion columns published on the paper's op-ed page and website." He also built up the editorial section from about a dozen people to more than 80, hiring seasoned journalists, columnists of all political persuasions, and up-and-coming young writers, videographers, bloggers, and designers, The New York Times adds.
Hiatt began his journalism career alongside his future wife, Shapiro, at The Atlanta Journal then The Washington Star. When the Star folded in 1981, he joined the Post, where Shapiro already worked, initially covering local news. In 1987, the Post sent him and Shapiro to Tokyo as co-bureau chiefs, then to Moscow under the same arrangement in 1991. Hiatt joined the editorial page in 1996, then took over in 2000 after his mentor, Meg Greenfield, died.
As editorial page chief, Hiatt "sought to maintain the Post's traditional editorial positions, which have included support for civil rights, fiscal responsibility, equality of opportunity, and a muscular presence on the international stage, particularly in protecting human rights," the Post says. His editorial page is best known for its robust support of the 2003 Iraq invasion, its outraged response to the 2018 Saudi murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and opposition to former President Donald Trump's candidacy. Hiatt was a three-time Pulitzer finalist for his own columns, most recently for his stark warnings about Trump in 2016.
Hiatt was born in 1955 in Washington but grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, after his father, a medical researcher with the National Institutes of Health, was named dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. His mother was a librarian. He is survived by his father, Shapiro, three children, his brother and sister, and a granddaughter.