The Other Side of the Post’s Katharine Graham

Hollywood loves to make heroes of The Washington Post for the rare moments when it has stood up for journalism – while forgetting the blood-soaked cases of the Post spreading lies to justify wars, writes Norman Solomon.

By Norman Solomon

Movie critics are already hailing “The Post,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Millions of people will see the film in early winter. But the real-life political story of Graham and her newspaper is not a narrative that’s headed to the multiplexes.

The Washington Post’s Watergate team, including from left to right, publisher Katharine Graham, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Howard Simons, and executive editor Ben Bradlee.

“The Post” comes 20 years after Graham’s autobiography Personal History appeared and won enormous praise. Read as a memoir, the book is a poignant account of Graham’s long quest to overcome sexism, learn the newspaper business and gain self-esteem. Read as media history, however, it is deceptive.

“I don’t believe that whom I was or wasn’t friends with interfered with our reporting at any of our publications,” Graham wrote. However, Robert Parry — who was a Washington correspondent for Newsweek during the last three years of the 1980s — has shed some light on the shadows of Graham’s reassuring prose. Contrary to the claims in her book, Parry said he witnessed “self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures.”

Among Parry’s examples: “On one occasion in 1987, I was told that my story about the CIA funneling anti-Sandinista money through Nicaragua’s Catholic Church had been watered down because the story needed to be run past Mrs. Graham, and Henry Kissinger was her house guest that weekend. Apparently, there was fear among the top editors that the story as written might cause some consternation.” (The 1996 memoir of former CIA Director Robert Gates confirmed that Parry had the story right all along.)

Graham’s book exudes affection for Kissinger as well as Robert McNamara and other luminaries of various administrations who remained her close friends until she died in 2001. To Graham, men like McNamara and Kissinger — the main war architects for Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon — were wonderful human beings.

In sharp contrast, Graham devoted dozens of righteous pages to vilifying Post press operators who went on strike in 1975. She stressed the damage done to printing equipment as the walkout began and “the unforgivable acts of violence throughout the strike.” It is a profound commentary on her outlook that thuggish deeds by a few of the strikers were “unforgivable” — but men like McNamara and Kissinger were lovable after they oversaw horrendous slaughter in Southeast Asia.

Graham’s autobiography portrays union stalwarts as mostly ruffians or dupes. “Only a handful of [Newspaper Guild] members had gone out for reasons I respected,” she told readers. “One was John Hanrahan, a good reporter and a nice man who came from a longtime labor family and simply couldn’t cross a picket line. He never did come back. Living your beliefs is a rare virtue and greatly to be admired.”

But for Hanrahan (whose Republican parents actually never belonged to a union) the admiration was far from mutual. As he put it, “The Washington Post under Katharine Graham pioneered the union-busting ‘replacement worker’ strategy that Ronald Reagan subsequently used against the air-traffic controllers and that corporate America — in the Caterpillar, Bridgestone/Firestone and other strikes — used to throw thousands of workers out of their jobs in the 1980s and the ’90s.”

The Washington Post deserves credit for publishing sections of the Pentagon Papers immediately after a federal court injunction in mid-June 1971 stopped the New York Times from continuing to print excerpts from the secret document. That’s the high point of the Washington Post’s record in relation to the Vietnam War. The newspaper strongly supported the war for many years.

Yet Graham’s book avoids any semblance of introspection about the Vietnam War and the human costs of the Post’s support for it. Her book recounts that she huddled with a writer in line to take charge of the editorial page in August 1966: “We agreed that the Post ought to work its way out of the very supportive editorial position it had taken, but we couldn’t be precipitous; we had to move away gradually from where we had been.” Vast carnage resulted from such unwillingness to be “precipitous.”

Although widely touted as a feminist parable, Graham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography is notably bereft of solidarity for women without affluence or white skin. They barely seemed to exist in her range of vision; painful realities of class and racial biases were dim, faraway specks. Overall the 625-page book gives short shrift to the unrich and unfamous, whose lives are peripheral to the drama played out by the wealthy publisher’s dazzling peers. The name of Martin Luther King Jr. does not appear in her star-studded, history-drenched book.

Katharine Graham’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers was indeed laudable, helping to expose lies that had greased the wheels of the war machinery with such horrific consequences in Vietnam. But the Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place. No amount of rave reviews or Oscar nominations for “The Post” will change that awful truth.

Norman Solomon is the coordinator of the online activist group and the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”


71 comments for “The Other Side of the Post’s Katharine Graham

  1. Joe Tedesky
    December 20, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    “It’s a Big Club, and You Ain’t in It: George Carlin”

    • NavyVet
      December 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care. They just don’t give a fuck. :p

      …and other lessons learned in the US Navy

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm

        You can say that again shipmate. Joe USN (1968-72 active)

        • December 21, 2017 at 10:18 pm

          My big lesson from 27 months in Viet Nam with the U.S. Army:

          When you find yourself part of an invading force in a foreign land fighting patriots, it’s time for a reality check on your world view.

          • Joe Tedesky
            December 22, 2017 at 3:15 pm

            Isn’t that the truth, but yet so many people just don’t get it, or rather they prefer to ignore the power of a resistant Indigenous wherever who will fight for their native land to the death, and then some for generation upon generation. Yet, in a very demonic business frame of mind, fighting that kind of war is a bonanza for long term weapons sale profit gains.

            Paul at least you never forgot where you came from, and learned by the experience, we need more who like you matured to that level. I don’t put everything into politicial officials always having served in our armed forces should be a huge requirement to hold office, but seeing the chicken hawks implementing every crazy idea from the last has changed my view to some degree. I would at least respect a person who at least sees war as the last resort, and never get to that level of resort. Joe

      • WC
        December 20, 2017 at 5:56 pm

        Un-Merry Christmas: The Perverse Incentives to Over-Consume and Over-Spend

        • WC
          December 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm

          Needed: A Meter for Trump’s Lies Per Minute (LPM)

          Imagine an app that can calculate the lies per minute (LPM) Trump subjects the American public to on a daily basis. Perhaps there should be a national contest for how many Trump lies per minute can be documented by a contestant in a given week.

          When the Republican “tax cuts” reach his desk, in a bill which gives massive handouts to the rich and giant corporations at the expense of working families, Trump will envelope this even more complex tax code in a vast cloud of lies designed to reassure the working class that he daily betrays.

          Senator Daniel P. Moynihan once said: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

          Trump continues to trumpet serial lies about the bill, which was changed repeatedly during the last days to cater even more to commercial interests – in an egregious display of cash register politics. Republican Congressional leaders have also made mendacity their mantra. Moreover, Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan have kept the bill from the Democrats, who had no chance to carefully read the final draft which they were expected to vote on.

          Apparently there is no Senate rule preventing the tyrannical majority from keeping the minority in the dark. Today the Senate, split 52 to 48 in favor of the Republicans, is Senator Mitch McConnell’s dictatorship. There were no public hearings on this legislation, no opportunity for the Democrats and the public to regularly read the changes in the bill and very limited debate on the Senate floor. The Republicans, having circumvented the filibuster and stretched the reconciliation procedure to include opening up the Arctic refuge to oil and gas drilling and having more people lose their health insurance.

          None of this means anything to Trump, who probably hasn’t even read a memo by his advisors on the bill’s details. His close aides say he doesn’t like briefing materials. Why should he? The Deceiver in Chief need only lie his way to the signing ceremony:

          “Biggest tax cuts in history.” False. “Biggest reform ever passed.” False. “Will create many beautiful jobs.” False. “Biggest middle class tax cut ever.” Totally false. Trump also lies when he says he will take a “big, big hit” to his own wealth from this tax bill. Laughably false.

          Tax analysts have exhausted themselves counting the number of intricate ways the legislation elevates Trump and his family’s wealth, real estate holdings and estates. If he had any dignity, he would announce that he would not take tax cuts, directly or indirectly, before he signs the bill into law.

          As Trump tries to sell the myth that he is somehow “for the little guy” and fallaciously claims the forgotten men and women of America “will never be forgotten again,” his cabinet secretaries and regulatory agency heads are working overtime to roll back health, safety and labor protections for working people. That is, of course, exactly why these agency heads were picked by Trump.

          Trump’s corporatized Department of Education is getting rid of protections for students who have been preyed upon and burdened with huge amounts of debt by for-profit so-called universities (Remember the frauds perpetrated by Trump University and his $25 million settlement last year). He has corporate crime abettor, Mick Mulvaney, running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into the ground and trying to dismantle its law and order program for corporate financial crooks.

          Trump brags about getting rid of “job-killing regulations,” without specifically mentioning any of them. He just keeps repeating over and over again his false claims. These regulations he wants to kill save the lives, health and safety of the American people by limiting toxic chemicals in the workplace, the consumer marketplace and the air, water and soil. He is letting defenseless Americans, including children, get sicker, be injured more and die earlier by continuing his cruel and vicious abandonment of long-considered legal safeguards. The regulations he is leaving alone are the ones providing corporate welfare, or what ideologically consistent conservatives call “crony capitalism.”

          Trump heralds “clean, beautiful coal” (a wild lie about a devastating pollutant) and brags about creating 45,000 more mining jobs. Even barons of the declining coal industry know he’s trying to mislead the public.

          Trump’s automatic prevarications keep coming, Tweet by Tweet. He says he is helping the little guy and then appoints his bank regulator, Keith Noreika, who helped banks avoid state laws protecting consumers and helped banks charge more fees. Mr. Noreika continues such anti-consumer practices in his new taxpayer-funded job.

          In a recent front page article titled “Champion of the ‘Little Guy’? Trump’s Actions Tell Another Story,” the New York Times’ reporters asks Mike Walden, a truck driver for 30 years, what he thought. Having voted for Republicans in Ohio, Walden’s reply should trouble Trump, who is always sniffing for voter trends: “What has he done for the working man?…You don’t get elected by the working class then throw them under the bus.”

          Voters who continue to believe in serial political liars are entrenching a tyranny over themselves. If we do not learn to recognize and reject such dishonesty, we will continue to enable dirty to our serious detriment.

          For a comprehensive list of Trump’s constantly growing number of LPMs, see Trump’s Lies in the New York Times.

          Ralph Nader

    • Sam F
      December 20, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      The Graham & Kissinger club perhaps includes Spielberg, promoting WaPo for club member Bezos of Amazon, its new owner, although like the rest of mass media it is opposed to its 1970s self. Mass media seem to follow a public awakening only if it is irresistible and will sell advertising, quite irrespective of any principle. Their moral corruption by money power is in need of extensive regulation.

      If we had amendments to the constitution requiring that mass media and elections be funded by limited individual contributions, and defining mass media corporations (say 10% or more of audience in any subject or region) and requiring that their staff at all levels follow the national distribution by race, religion, political views, etc. within 5%, then one might celebrate with a movie on the subject, as we would be on our way to restoration of democracy.

      As matters stand, we are on our way to totalitarianism, with none of the tools of democracy available to restore it.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 20, 2017 at 10:54 pm

        I would go along with your proposals Sam in a heartbeat. I have felt for too long a time of how all media should be privately owned, and not be included as a corporate division. I must confess I have a ton of angst with ‘big’. I also have a problem with influence when it comes to media. If there is safety in numbers I would prefer thousands of media reporting agencies over but a few corporate owned propaganda centers delivering our news to us by the hour. Garbage in, is garbage out, and the American people have been dumped on for far to long now. Our first priority should be for us to have a free and independent news media, and unless we Americans obtain that very necessary pleasure, then all else is just painful noise.

      • anonymous
        December 21, 2017 at 5:30 am

        ” .. and requiring that their staff at all levels follow the national distribution by race, religion, political views, etc. within 5%,”

        Would your proposed amendments include repeal of the First? How about banning all mass media other than NPR?

        Assuming that you’re not a wry troll, please reflect on whether a yet more powerful national government is the way to make this a better place.

        • Sam F
          December 21, 2017 at 9:26 pm

          There is no impact of such regulation upon First amendment rights:
          1. Small and medium-size media and individuals and most groups are unaffected;
          2. Mass media must be representative of the population in all major factors to avoid distortion of fact;
          3. The federal government is not made more powerful, but money power over the people is restricted;

          Already mass media, like all businesses, are subject to a vast array of regulations that do not affect media content: all of their buildings, payroll, taxes, etc. are subject to regulation like all businesses.

          So regulation that prohibits the causes of media bias without directing content has no deleterious effect upon content, and can only prevent distortions of content.

          Without a powerful democratic national government to eliminate the tyranny of money power, one has a powerful non-democratic government in fact, such as our present oligarchy.

          • anonymous
            December 22, 2017 at 9:18 pm

            Please review your words, which it now sounds like you might have chosen more carefully:

            ” .. and requiring that their staff at all levels follow the national distribution by race, religion, political views, etc. within 5%,”

            How can calibrating “political views .. within 5%” as a determinant of employment — in the field of public discourse, no less — not implicate the First Amendment?

      • floyd gardner
        December 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm

        Your proposal re mass media staff would require letting go 90% of NPR staff.

        • Sam F
          December 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

          Major staff changes are necessary and proper. As to staff composition, regs will be needed to verify self-identification information, and to allow some distortions where a small minority (under 5%) could only be represented fairly if present in some groups but not all. Proportionate hiring can be clumsy when hiring a small fraction of staff, but for large organizations it is not difficult.

          Generally mass media will have to be reorganized to operate with contributions instead of advertising revenue. The demand for product information can be better met with product evaluation shows that accept no improper influence. The demand for quick happy-spots, if it really exists, can easily be met as an art form without commercial function.

          In defining a mass media organization, all interlinked groups of individuals or entities are a single medium, so they cannot form groups of ostensibly-independent media under common control. This also prohibits control of mass media via secret agencies or political parties. substantial evidence of collusion or common control would lead to seizure and reorganization as in a bankruptcy case.

          • anonymous
            December 23, 2017 at 11:58 am

            And who would you select as first Minister of Truth?

      • charcutier
        December 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm

        Sadly, you seem to have bought into the notion that demographic variables, at least those few tracked by the Census Bureau, are the determinant of ones sociopolitical identity. And in your case, maybe you are.

        Not me. I am not a bag of variables, whether those are measured objectively or not. I am a human being, with my own history, education, and experiences; and with all the expected human faults and foibles perhaps. But I am not a bag of variables. I refuse to support any system that defines me or anyone else as a bag of variables. Tyranny lies there.

    • December 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Meryl Screech loves to glorify Capitalist and Fascist Beasts
      like Margaret Thatcher and Katharine Graham.
      And she’s a “Liberal” ?!?!? A Classic Liberal, to be sure.
      A Hollywood Liberal of course.

      • Michael Rohde
        December 21, 2017 at 4:37 pm

        A harvey weinstein liberal.

        • Litchfield
          December 21, 2017 at 9:10 pm

          I am getting tired of the reflexive quality of Streep, her roles, and her political stances. It is a closed circle. Please, no more Oscars for Streep. In one or another she has started playing herself.

      • Susan Reader
        January 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        Really? Meryl Screech? What are you—about 8? Most of us left that behind by the 6th grade. I’ve noticed this is a speciality of “conservatives.”

      • Alexander Barnett
        January 2, 2018 at 11:34 pm

        Her portrayal of Thatcher was anything but flattering. it was more than clear that she disliked her enormously. And that’s where the portrayal failed,

      • Alexander Barnett
        January 2, 2018 at 11:43 pm

        It was obvious from her portrayal of Thatcher that she detests the woman. That was why the portrayal failed.

  2. Martin
    December 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    What other lies are being told to sell Zionists genocidal wars in the Muslim world ?
    The lied millions died!

  3. Tannenhouser
    December 20, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    No amount of rave reviews or Oscar nominations for “The Post” will change that awful truth.. Isn’t that the truth?

    It will serve however to present history in a more palatable light in a easily manipulated and heavily consumed format. To be regurgitated as Truth, just as it’s meant to.

    Hi Ho So it goes. K.V. RIP

    • mike k
      December 20, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Another case of distorted “history” told by the “winners.” For all their pretensions rich people’s “niceness” is soaked in the blood of their millions of victims. These are the evil vampires who suck the life blood from humanity. It is inevitable that these ghouls pretend to be helping you as they bury their knives in your back. Consider Trump saying he is giving us a “tax break” when he is really robbing us to feed the bloated wealthy. Or the big favors our leaders did for Iraq, Libya, and Syria by destroying their population and culture. The USA is led by mass murderers. Learn to see through their expensive clothes and clever speech to discern the ugly criminals they are. If you can’t see this, then you will forever be their victim.

      • Tannenhouser
        December 20, 2017 at 8:18 pm

        So the story goes. Looping over and over our shoulders. Same repeated sequel. Hell even if ya do see them as the vamps they are you/we/I are still prey.

  4. Robert Cicisly Jr.
    December 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    And it just ain’t a coincidence that this “propping up” nostalgic reminiscence of WaPo” with NPR’s Fresh Air replaying the 1995 Ben Bradlee interview , as a commercial for “The Post”; while at the same time Daniel Ellsberg comes out with his new book , “The Doomsday Machine”.
    Ellsberg’s chilling, timely reminder in the time of Trump, North Korea and Russiagate, is the antidote to “The Post” which distracts attention way from the bogus Russiagate tripe the WaPo is famous for in 2017.

    • Bob Van Noy
      December 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thank you Robert Cicisly Jr. for that timely reminder. I’m sure you’re right. I’m reading Daniel Ellsburg’s Book now. I’ll provide a link to Mr. Ellsberg’s site…

    • Litchfield
      December 21, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Let’s stop for a moment of silence in memory of Ben Bradlee’s sister-in-law, Mary Pinchot Meyer, lover of JFK, who was murdered in mysterious circumstances and whose personal diary was “disappeared” by Bradlee and his wife after James Angleton was surprised while jimmying a lock to get into Meyer’s studio. Her husband, Cord Meyer, was of course a top undercover CIA asset. These people pulled the strings they needed to pull to suppress certain stories and freature others. Bradlee was really not a genuine “newsman” and neither was Graham a genuine “newswoman.” Robert Parry is the real deal, not Graham and Bradlee.

      • Bob Van Noy
        December 22, 2017 at 11:41 am

        Litchfield, thank you for bringing up Mary Pinchot Meyer, yet another murder to silence any opposition to
        the backstory of management by the Power Elite adequately described years ago by C. Wright Mills…

  5. Oz
    December 20, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I believe there were also many unanswered questions about the decision by by local authorities to rule the death of Graham’s husband Philip a suicide.

    • Tannenhouser
      December 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      Oz, can you elaborate on the timeline of that death with what story/narrative was or wasn’t being pushed by the post at that time?

      • Bob Van Noy
        December 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

        Tannenhouser, you can find an excellent synopsis On Katherine Graham at the link below and if one clicks on all of the hot links, quite an education of the period…

        • Bob Van Noy
          December 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

          For those interested also this on Operation Mockingbird.

          • robjira
            December 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

            Very informative links; thanks for sharing.

          • December 21, 2017 at 3:03 am

            BobV…thanks for the Mockingbird article and the Spartacus website. There’s so much there that I’ve bookmarked it to get back to. I believe it was you that introduced me to OffGuardian, as well…another excellent source, thanks again.

        • Tannenhouser
          December 20, 2017 at 8:16 pm

          Bob, wow !!!!!! Limited hang out there. From it’s inception ‘deep state’. I always pictured these papers of record as ‘honest’ and then taken over by operations like mocking bird. Not the post. Wow!!! Thanks Bob.

        • Bob Van Noy
          December 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

          Thanks to all of you. I see this wonderful site (CN) as a resource of truth and of deeper understanding. Consortiumnews is an environment where we have the potential to “connect the dots” under the excellent journalism of Robert Parry.

          It was Spartacus Educational that started my JFK research. John Simkin has for many years consolidated and commented on the main themes of the JFK phenomenon, his input is invaluable. He is one of the first Historians to recogniize the value of the web as a aggregator.
          Like Robert Parry, if you find it useful, support it…

      • December 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

        Deborah Davis, interviewed by Kenn Thomas of Steamshovel Press (1992)
        Kenn Thomas: Before we get too far from Phil Graham, I’d like to talk a little bit more about his suicide. Getting back to the article that Leary wrote, he seemed to suggest that there was a reason to believe that it could have been something more than suicide, that there’s no indication or public record that Graham wasn’t done in. And that the “suicide” happened shortly after this public event where Graham was talking about the JFK/Mary Meyer liaison. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

        Deborah Davis: Phil died in 1963 and it’s now 1992. There’s still continuing speculation, 29 years later that he was murdered. In my book, I wrote it as a suicide because that’s the way it’s been represented and I didn’t have any independent knowledge of anything else. If I were doing it today, or if I ever do another edition, I will probably expand on that and spend some time investigating it and finding out whether there is any evidence that it was murder. There were a couple of reasons why it could have been murder. One is the one you mentioned. The people that were protecting Kennedy might have done it because of he was a manic depressive. He was in and out of institutions and he was very mentally unstable. A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that he married into a wealthy family. He married the boss’ daughter and they gave him the newspaper, but they were watching every move he made. So he did not react well to the fact that Katharine Graham’s father had owned the Washington Post. He may have been killed for that reason, if he was killed.

        He may have been killed because he had a mistress named Robin Webb. By that time he had moved out of Katharine’s house and he was living with Robin Webb in another house and he was actually behaving as if they were married. He had dinner parties over there with her and invited various members of the Washington elite over there for dinner parties and making it very clear that this was the woman he preferred to Katharine. And at the same time, he was re-writing his will. He re-wrote his will three times. Edward Bennet Williams was his attorney. Edward Bennet Williams, who is very well-known as a Washington power broker. He recently died, but he was very much involved in this. Each time, he willingly, at Phil’s request, wrote a will that gave Katharine less and less of a share of the Washington Post and gave more and more of it to Robin Webb. By the third rewrite she had nothing and Robin Webb had everything. And this was at a time when Katharine had pretty much given up on the marriage and realized that in order to save the newspaper, which she thought of as her family newspaper–her father built that newspaper and she didn’t want to let it go to some mistress of her husband’s–and she had come to the conclusion that she either had to divorce him and win the paper in a divorce settlement, or she had to have him declared mentally incompetent. Each of these alternatives was very unattractive to her. And so there’s some speculation that either she arranged for him to be killed or somebody said to her, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of it” and there’s some speculation that it might have even been Edward Bennet Williams.

        She took him out of the sanitarium one weekend and took him out to their farm in Virginia and this was where he blew his brains out with a shotgun. And the police report was never really made public. After my paperback edition was published this fall, I got a call from some woman who claims that she knew for a fact that it was murder. And if I ever do publish another edition, I intend to look into that.

    • jim
      December 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      @ Oz -I think Hillary did it

  6. Kalen
    December 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    One thing is sure, we cannot treat people differently/discriminating if they are women.
    Oligarchic pig is an oligarchic pig regardless of gender since they act alike.
    WaPo story is a proud tradition of cowardice and belligerence on behalf of oligarchs, justifying murder and mayhem as long as it pays financially and politically.

    Marie Antoinette was guillotined as an expression of Liberte, fraternite and egalite, no discriminating, full equality of people’s justice system the ancient regime denied to French people.

    Again Hollywood exposed itself what it is, a cesspool of propagandists of power and money.

  7. Bob In Portland
    December 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Knowing what we know now, reading Deborah Davis’ KATHARINE THE GREAT certainly helps to explain any number of untied knots in the WaPo’s relationship with the CIA and its central role in the CIA’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

  8. Annie
    December 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    People are pretty much divided on Kissinger and his legacy, and there are people like Bill. Hillary and Graham, to name but a few, who hold him in high esteem, while others see him as a war criminal. Their position on Kissinger depends on what side of the fence they are sitting on. If you are an elitist, and power driven, you like Kissinger, but if you identify with the “unwashed masses” you see him as a war criminal, as I do. Her position on this man doesn’t surprise me, and you can tell a lot about people by whom they hold in esteem. Doesn’t say much for Ms Graham. Of course for her to denounce Kissinger she would have to recognize her own role in that horrendous war. When Hillary spoke of Trump’s base as deplorables, she once again defined who she is.

  9. Drew Hunkins
    December 20, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Anti-union, pro national security-militarist establishment Graham. Go wretch in the theater when she gets the Spielberg hagiographic treatment.

    Save your money on ‘The Post’ and instead go see the best movie of the year, ‘The Disaster Artist’.

  10. December 20, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Yes, Deborah Davis’ biography “Katharine the Great” gives much insight on relationship between media and the CIA. Worth reading! but a bit hard to find. It was suppressed when it first came out, later republished.

  11. mike k
    December 20, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I strongly recommend reading David Swanson’s review of Daniel Ellsberg’s new book on nuclear war, on amazon:

  12. Annie
    December 20, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    US outnumbered 14 to 1 as it vetoes UN vote on status of Jerusalem,and Nikki Haley is furious. finally some good news! Hope this nixes any future plans Thrump has for Iran.

    • Litchfield
      December 21, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Can I go somewhere—a Youtube video?—to see Nikki Haley being furious????
      Please, someone make my day!!!

  13. godenich
    December 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Speaking of the Washington Post, it looks like world leaders are throwing a twisted kind of Christmas (or should I say Krampus) party for Ukraine[1]. Ruminating over Trump’s national security speech[2], I can’t help from noticing this line:

    “Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both.”

    I don’t think that’s quite what Ben Frankin said[3] and it reminds me of a line in an old Greek Fable, “The Dog and the Wolf” attributed to Aesop: “Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro”. Some things in this world are just priceless.

    [1] Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to Ukraine | 12/20/2017
    [2] Trump transcript: ‘America First’ security speech | Al Jazeera
    [3] “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.” | Benjamin Franklin Wikiquote

  14. fudmier
    December 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    To stop NSA from spying you need to know about this; its much more germane to your freedom that Haley at the UN, or the global crisis that has DJT smoked screen us with, the Nukes in NK, or the Earth Quakes in Iran or the US forces in Yemen, Syria.. Africa. or the Chinese money convertible at face to gold, yes sir it is about your freedom.

  15. CitizenOne
    December 20, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Like making a nostalgic movie about the good old days of railroad tycoons.and the heroic men (or women) that built them.

    The media tycoon movie would have a dark ending since the media tycoons are laying tracks straight to Hell.

    A movie such as this at such a time when we are seeing the political process and the coordinated media efforts to suck the rich up into the Pluto-sphere leaving us mere mortals back on the rock called Earth comes at a strategically timed moment. No doubt the media cheerleaders need a hero since they do such a terrible job. Nothing like a little fictional ego massaging to ease that guilty feeling they have that they have that they suck at their job.

  16. Paul G.
    December 21, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Note that Ben Bradlee was considered a CIA asset, more involved than the run of the mill reporters who got payoffs from The Company. See Janney, Peter. Mary’s Mosaic.
    Her adulation of war criminals McNamara and Kissinger says it all.
    The film should be heartwarming for those liberals who won’t recognize their government and the Democratic party is rotten and corrupt from top to bottom-with a few brave exceptions. Ray McGovern’s characterization of the Post as “Pravda on the Potomac” is so appropriate.

  17. Tom
    December 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    First of all, what do you expect from a Spielberg movie? In “Lincoln”, not once was Frederick Douglas meintioned. Kind of an important figure during the Civil War.

    As for the Post, Woodward and Bernstein have both lost their credibility. Woodward is now an Assistant managing Editor who apparently spends all of his time writing books. Does he actually do any work at the Post? Bernstein is now a Managing Editor at CNN’s “Investigative Unit”. But despite that, he continues to embarass himself by promoting the Putin manipulated the election lie. With no proof. We’re just supposed to believe him because he’s FREAKIN’ Carl Bernstein? Sorry but no.

  18. Michael Rohde
    December 21, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t know which book it was by Woodward, but I remember reading it I think in the 90’s, and saying to myself, he has gone over. He followed it up with an appearance on a talking head show and sealed the deal in my mind. I don’t know if he went over to the bad guys and the big money in the 90’s for sure, but it was around then. And I suspect he followed the paper, not the other way around. And Kissinger as a house guest? How far down the list of good people did she go before she got to that traitor? Bezos just made it official. The post went over a long time ago. They peaked with Watergate. It has been down hill since then.

    • Litchfield
      December 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      If you read Russ Baker on the Bush family and other topics (I think it is in Family of Secrets) you could infer that Bernstein was “over” from the get-go and the Watergate affair was a setup to get rid of Nixon because he was getting too curious as to who actually killed Kennedy, and why.

  19. Delia Ruhe
    December 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    This should surprise no one, as the Grahams were upper-class, and the upper class in any culture usually consist of mostly conservatives. And that Katharine succeeded despite sexism has more to do with class privilege than her feminism.

    • Sam F
      December 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Yes, fake conservatives conserve only their own wealth and power, while fake liberals liberate only themselves. Money or the opportunity to get it almost always persuades people that money=power=virtue, while everyone is an activist so long as they are at risk, and most look for excuses to be more “realistic” as soon as they are not among the suffering. Those in politics and commercial media seldom show any principle at all.

    • Litchfield
      December 23, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Katherine Graham’s mother succeeded without class privelege.
      See post below.

      • Litchfield
        December 23, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        I mean, post further down thread re Katherine Meyer’s mother, Agnes Ernst Meyer.

  20. Litchfield
    December 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Yes, a real snob.

  21. December 22, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Many thanks to Normal Solomon for his even-tempered factual counterpoint to the emerging
    “liberal affluent heroine” review narrative of Katharine Graham’s autobiography and the resultant idolizing film PR.
    We all so wish we had good people in positions of power who only do good positive things.
    Unfortunately truth does not easily bend to such simple bifurcations.
    Ralph Metzner

  22. December 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for this important piece on a film that will undoubtedly have people flocking to theaters to see it. Those who did not live through the period of the Vietnam war, and the role of the Post and other major newspapers in covering up for the crimes of McNamara and Kissinger–especially those younger people will benefit from your truthful commentary.

    • Litchfield
      December 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      I wonder what treatment the film will give Graham’s parents.
      Her mother actually was far more impressive than Kay, and set the standard high for her daughter.

      I looks like Kay’s mother broke multiple glass ceilings on her own hook, without wealth and power behind her. And, I doubt that she was the snob that Kay Graham was.

      Her father was the first president of the World Bank, chairman of the Federal Reserve, a Jew who denied it for most of his life.
      Check it out:

      Graham’s brother-in-law was Oskar Homulka.
      We’ll see if the actual background that positioned this half Jewish family at the epicenter of financial and communications;/political/messaging power in Washington, DC, gets into the film. IMO the relevance of the Jewish aspect is Meyer Senior’s history with the Federal Reserve and the World Bank.

      Last night came the news of Bill Graham’s death.
      It is all curious.

      • Litchfield
        December 23, 2017 at 8:17 pm

        And another thing, I mean, the kind of incestuousness of this whole project:
        Streep played the heroine of the movie Heartburn, based on the book by Nora Ephron, written after she discovered that her husband, Carl Bernstein, was having an affair with another woman.

        Streep is on track to play Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama in upcoming biopics (;-)).

        • Anon
          December 24, 2017 at 10:32 am

          This woman is insufferable. She is the ultimate symbol of privilege and corruption. She is a lousy actress – all she ever does is play herself.

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