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The Real Story Behind Katharine Graham and 'The Post'

December 22, 2017 in Blogs

By Norman Solomon, AlterNet

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She was an inspirational publisher, and in retrospect, the epitome of white feminism.


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 Post” comes 20 years after Graham’s autobiography, Personal History, 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 the 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 …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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