The legacy of Katharine Graham

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Great moments call for great efforts, a lesson that will be one of the longstanding legacies of Katharine Graham.

Born to privilege - she never ironed a dress in her life, she said in her memoir - Graham nevertheless was tested by difficult struggles repeatedly. As a child, she received little emotional sustenance from her mother. As a wife, she was married to a manic-depressive who became alcoholic and adulterous before committing suicide. Suddenly replacing him as head of The Washington Post, she felt ill-prepared, fearing she could not provide the leadership that the then-struggling newspaper desperately needed.

But at critical moments she refused to be storm-tossed. She confronted these difficulties head-on and worked through them by force of will. The higher the gale, the tighter she gripped the tiller.

Graham's death yesterday in Idaho at age 84, of head injuries sustained in a fall, was followed by tributes from around the world. ...

... Graham was best known for running The Washington Post during a dramatic period when its courage and tenacity made it one of the nation's foremost newspapers. In printing portions of The Pentagon Papers after The New York Times had been enjoined from further publication and in pursuing the Watergate scandal in particular, the Post decided time and again to give readers solid information, despite warnings that publication would threaten the paper's financial stability, shock some readers, or enrage a president. ...

Boston Globe, today



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