Katharine Graham: A Life Remembered

July 17, 2001 -- She guided The Washington Post through its historic coverage of the toppling of a president, won a Pulitzer Prize for her autobiography, Personal History, and ruled Washington's political and media scene in a style that was inimitably her own. Occasionally, she went to the movies with Henry Kissinger.


Katharine Graham
1917 - 2001
(Photo: Reuters/The Washington Post/File)

Katharine Graham lived a remarkable life made more so by the circumstances of her rise to the top of her profession.

Her father was a multimillionaire who in 1933 bought the bankrupt Washington Post. After his death, control passed to Graham's husband, Philip. He committed suicide in 1963 and Graham became president of the company -- at a time when most women were in charge of their households and little else.

In her 1998 memoir she wrote: "I had very little idea of what I was supposed to be doing, so I set out to learn. What I essentially did was to put one foot in front of the other, shut my eyes, and step off the edge."

as Morning Edition's Bob Edwards remembers Katharine Graham.

Bob Edwards talks with New Yorker editor David Remnick, who worked under Graham at The Washington Post for nine years.

to Susan Stamberg's report on Graham's life on All Things Considered.

as NPR's Linda Wertheimer talks with Graham in a 1997 interview.

With Graham in charge and with Ben Bradlee as managing editor, the Post set a new standard for investigative journalism. In 1971, The Post began publishing excerpts of the so-called Pentagon Papers. They contained allegedly secret information about U.S. decision-making about Vietnam since the end of the Second World War. The government fought to forbid publication of the Pentagon Papers by both The Post and The New York Times. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the newspapers.

The following year, with the aggressive reporting of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and the support of Graham, the paper traced the story of the Watergate break-in, which ultimately led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon as president and earned the paper a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

For more about Katharine Graham and her life, visit the special section at The Washington Post online

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