Former Washington Post executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, had a reputation for speaking truth to power. He also had a reputation for speaking truth to spin doctors, powerful or not.

Mary Hadar, former editor of The Post's Style section, held on to a reply that Bradlee sent more than two decades ago to a pestering flack. As Hadar recalls, someone was retiring from the circus — a lion tamer? — and the circus's press agent wrote to Bradlee to complain when the Style section wouldn't run a profile.

Here, in tribute to an iconic voice in journalism, is Bradlee's response:

(Letter written by former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee on April 4, 1990. Courtesy of Mary Hadar.)

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