One of the great figures in American journalism has died. 

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post, who oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon, was 93 years old.

Bradlee died at his home in Washington of natural causes.

Bradlee skyrocketed to fame in the early 1970s - first by spearheading a legal battle by the Post and The New York Times that culminated in a Supreme Court ruling allowing the newspapers to continue publishing the Pentagon Papers - a secret government accounting of America's involvement in Vietnam. 

President Barack Obama awards former Washington Po
President Barack Obama awards former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Nov. 20, 2013 at the White House.

Then, he oversaw an investigation by the Post into the burglary at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. His collaboration with young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein eventually brought down the Nixon presidency and established the Washington Post as one of the world's top newspapers.

Donald Graham, the former publisher of the Post, hailed Bradlee as "the best American newspaper editor of his time." 

Donald Graham's mother, Katherine Graham, was publisher of The Washington Post during Bradlee's tenure. 

Bradlee's Watergate fame was sealed with the movie All the President's Men, in which he was portrayed by actor Jason Robards.

After retiring, Bradlee wrote a memoir entitled A Good Life in 1995 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama last year.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama called Bradlee "a true newspaperman" who believed journalism was "a public good vital to our democracy."

"The standard he set - a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting - encouraged so many others to enter the profession," Obama said.