Watch Katharine Graham's steely description of her Pentagon Papers moment
Katharine Graham, the late indomitable publisher of the Washington Post, is having a new moment in the spotlight thanks to the Steven Spielberg movie, “The Post.”
The film’s focus is squarely on Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep) as she and editor Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks) grapple with the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers.
The publication of the papers, which had already occurred in the New York Times, was fraught with peril because the government had threatened to sue the paper. It was also particularly dicey because Graham was about to take the company public with a stock offering. Any problems along the way could doom the offering as well as the newspaper itself if a court ruled against it.
Though all of that happened in the early ‘70s, Graham was still just as resolved when she talked about that time several years later in an interview for a video series produced by Poynter in 1985. Called Newsleaders, the series was created to focus on the men and women running America’s newsrooms, which in those days consisted mainly of major television networks and newspapers.
Watch an excerpt of Graham:
The subjects of the series, which eventually numbered more than 25, included Poynter Institute founder Nelson Poynter (filmed in 1977), Ben Bradlee, Malcolm Forbes, Meg Greenfield and Otis Chandler, among others. Many were broadcast on PBS, with hosts such as John Chancellor and Sander Vanocur.