Fred Hiatt, Washington Post Editorial Page Editor, Dies at 66

Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of The Washington Post who used his position to support justice and human rights, died on Monday. He was 66 years old.

He went into sudden cardiac arrest while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner with his family, his wife said. She said that a bystander called for help but Mr. Hiatt never regained consciousness. She said he had a history of heart problems. He lived in Chevy Chase.

Mr. Hiatt was a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing. He expanded the staff from about a dozen people to more than 80 and included younger, up-and-coming writers, videographers, and designers. Karen Tumulty said that the section is now the house that Fred built.

Mr. Hiatt was best known in recent years for leading the newspaper's outrage over the murder of Saudi contributor, Jamal Khashoggi, a legal permanent resident of Virginia. Mr. Hiatt ran an empty white space on the opinion page where Mr.

Mr. Hiatt gave a platform to other dissident writers from the Arab world who had been banned from their domestic media by establishing a fellowship in his name.

The intelligence report released by the Biden administration said that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia approved the assassination of the journalist.

Donald E. Graham, the publisher of The Post, said in an interview that he chose Mr. Hiatt for his independence, which is a rare quality in Washington.

The Post's editorial board noted in a tribute that Mr. Hiatt had supported the freedom fighter when she was imprisoned, and she visited The Post to thank him personally. He condemned her in an editorial when she defended the military campaign against the minority.

Frederick J. Ryan Jr., The Post's current publisher and chief executive, said in a statement that he was one of the few journalists who had matched his dedication to the causes of democracy and human rights worldwide.

The editorial board and Mr. Hiatt supported the American invasion of Iraq after learning of Saddam Hussein's atrocities.

Mr. Hiatt said that The Post had always favored a strong defense and an America that was prudently engaged in the world.

Mr. Graham said he picked Mr. Hiatt because of his care and measured news judgment.

Mr. Graham said that he hired a wonderful staff, that he was admired by some pretty picky writers, and that he was always willing to listen. He said that Mr. Hiatt could be fierce when he didn't think there was another side.

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Mr. Hiatt left a meeting between Donald J. Trump and The Post's editorial board in March 2016 at the newspaper's offices. Mr. Hiatt wrote before the election that Mr. Trump was not fit for office.

His view was that Donald J. Trump was not fit to be president. Mr. Hiatt wrote that Mr. Trump might reveal the nation's two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we thought. He was a Pulitzer finalist for his editorials.

The newspaper's editorial board paid tribute to Mr. Hiatt on Monday, saying that he was gifted with seemingly effortless charm, good humor and emotional intelligence that enabled him to lead a diverse and sometimes fractious staff through daunting challenges.

Mr. Hiatt reached out to her when she became acting editor of The New York Times.

She said in an email that he was generous to both his staff and her. He spent a half-hour trying to make me laugh with tales of ornery writers, but I was expecting wise counsel and serious mentorship, which did come, but not before.

On April 30, 1955, Frederick Samuel Hiatt was born. Howard Haym Hiatt was a medical researcher at the National Institutes of Health. When Mr. Hiatt became dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, the family moved to Massachusetts, where Fred was born. His mother co-founded a magazine that reviewed books for school libraries.

Mr. Hiatt met Ms. Shapiro while he was working for The Harvard Crimson. They traveled around the world together for a year and a half after graduating. He moved to The Washington Star after working at The Atlanta Journal.

Mr. Hiatt joined The Post after The Star folded. His first assignment was covering suburban Fairfax County, Va., and he then took on Virginia politics and the Pentagon. They were married in 1984.

He is survived by his father, three children, brother, sister and a granddaughter.

The first time The Post sent a couple to work together in a foreign posting was in 1987 when Mr. Hiatt and Ms. Shapiro were sent to Tokyo as co-bureau chiefs. Ms. Shapiro said that they shared a desk. I sat on the other side. He would read my copy and I would read his. It was seamless.

The newspaper moved them to a similar beat in Moscow, where they covered the fall of the Soviet Union.

He loved being a foreign correspondent, but the work that was most meaningful to him was building The Post's opinion section.

She said that he brought in two really talented people to explain the world and write columns. It was important to him that he continued to do that. The people he worked with were close to him.