Friday, 12 July 2013

Philip Graham and the Washington Post

"Philip Graham committed suicide by killing himself with a shotgun on 3rd August, 1963."



Michael Hasty, Secret Admirers: The Bushes and the Washington Post (5th February , 2004)


"After Graham committed suicide, and his widow Katherine assumed the role of publisher, she continued her husband's policies of supporting the efforts of the intelligence community in advancing the foreign policy and economic agenda of the nation's ruling elites. In a retrospective column written after her own death last year, FAIR analyst Norman Solomon wrote, "Her newspaper mainly functioned as a helpmate to the war-makers in the White House, State Department and Pentagon." It accomplished this function (and continues to do so) using all the classic propaganda techniques of evasion, confusion, misdirection, targeted emphasis, disinformation, secrecy, omission of important facts, and selective leaks.
Graham herself rationalized this policy in a speech she gave at CIA headquarters in 1988. "We live in a dirty and dangerous world," she said. "There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows." "




Carl Bernstein, CIA and the Media, Rolling Stone Magazine (20th October, 1977)


"In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.
Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services - from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go-betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors-without-portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested it the derring-do of the spy business as in filing articles, and, the smallest category, full-time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad. In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements America’s leading news organizations."

Michael Collins Piper, American Free Press (22nd August, 2001)

Under Philip Graham's stewardship, the Post blossomed and its empire expanded, including the purchase of the then-moribund Newsweek magazine and other media properties.
Following the establishment of the CIA in 1947, Graham also forged close ties to the CIA to the point that he was described by author Deborah Davis, as "one of the architects of what became a widespread practice: the use and manipulation of journalists by the CIA"- a CIA project known as Operation Mockingbird.
According to Davis, the CIA link was integral to the Post's rise to power: "Basically the Post grew up by trading information with the intelligence agencies." In short, Graham made the Post into an effective and influential propaganda conduit for the CIA.
Despite all this, there was, by the time of Eugene Meyer's death in 1959, a growing gulf between Graham and his wife and his father-in-law, who was having second thoughts about turning his empire over to Graham.
The Post publisher took a mistress, Robin Webb, whom he set up in a large house in Washington and a farm outside of the city. A heavy drinker who reportedly had manic-depressive tendencies, Graham, in some respects, was his own worst enemy, stridently abusive to his wife, both privately and publicly.
Katharine Graham's biographer, Deborah Davis, has pointed out that Philip Graham had also started rattling the CIA:
He had begun to talk, after his second breakdown, about the CIA's manipulation of journalists. He said it disturbed him. He said it to the CIA... He turned against the newsmen and politicians whose code was mutual trust and, strangely, silence. The word was that Phil Graham could not be trusted. Graham was actually under surveillance by somebody. Davis has noted that one of Graham's assistants "recorded his mutterings on scraps of paper."
There are those, however, who have suggested that Graham's legendary "mental breakdown" that developed over the next several years was more a consequence of the psychiatric treatments to which he was subjected more so than any illness itself. One writer has speculated that Graham may have been the victim of the CIA's now-infamous experiments in the use of mind-altering drugs.
The Graham split was a major social and political upheaval in Washington, considering the immense power of the newspaper and its intimate ties to the CIA-and the plutocratic elite.
In his biography of Graham's friend and Washington Post attorney Edward Bennett Williams, the aforementioned Evan Thomas wrote that: "Georgetown society was quickly split into 'Phil People' and 'Kay People'" and that while "publicly, Williams was a Phil Person.... as [Kay] later discovered, she need not have been fearful."
Graham startled Williams by saying that not only did he plan to divorce Katharine but that he wanted to re-write his own 1957 will and give everything "Kay" stood to inherit to his mistress, Robin Webb-effectively depriving Katharine of her controlling interest in the powerful newspaper.
Although Williams kept putting off Graham's demand for a divorce, the will, as Thomas admitted, "was a trickier matter." Three times in the spring of 1963 Graham re-wrote his original will of 1957. Each of Graham's 1963 revisions reducing his wife's share and expanding the share he intended for his mistress. Ultimately, the last version cut out Katharine Graham altogether.
A nasty fight was looming. Katharine obviously knew something was afoot because, as Deborah Davis reports, Mrs. Graham "told [her own attorney] Clark Clifford that the divorce settlement must assign control of The Washington Post, and all of the Post companies, exclusively to her."
Matters finally came to a head when Philip attended a newspaper publishers convention in Arizona and delivered a blistering speech attacking the CIA and exposing "insider" secrets about official Washington-even to the point of exposing his friend John Kennedy's affair with Mary Meyer, the wife of a top CIA official, Cord Meyer (no relation to Katharine Graham).
At that point, Katharine flew to Phoenix and snatched up her husband who was captured after a struggle, put in a straitjacket and sedated. He was then flown to an exclusive mental clinic in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md.
On the morning of Aug. 3, 1963, Katharine Graham reportedly told friends that Philip was "better" and coming home.
She drove to the clinic and picked up her husband and drove him to their country home in Virginia. Later that day, while "Kay" was reportedly napping in her second floor room, her husband died of a shotgun blast in a bathtub downstairs.
Although the police report of the incident was never made public, the death was ruled a suicide. Deborah Davis described the aftermath:
During probate, Katharine's lawyer challenged the legality of the last will, and Edward Bennett Williams, wishing to retain the Post account, now testified that Phil had not been of sound mind when he had drawn up Phil's final will for him. As a result, the judge ruled that Phil had died intestate. Williams helped Katharine take control of the Post with no significant legal problems and ensured that the final will, which left The Washington Post to another woman, never entered the public record.
In her critical biography of Mrs. Graham, Davis never once suggested that Philip had been murdered but has said in interviews that "there's some speculation that either [Katharine] arranged for him to be killed or somebody said to her, 'don't worry, we'll take care of it' " and that "there's some speculation that it might have even been Edward Bennett Williams."
Under Katharine Graham's rule, The Washington Post grew more powerful than ever, and in 1974 played the pivotal role in the destruction of Richard Nixon who was evidently perceived as a danger to the CIA and to the plutocratic elite.
In her book, Katharine the Great-which Mrs. Graham worked hard to suppress-Deborah Davis perhaps provided the real key to Watergate, charging that the Post's famed Watergate source-"Deep Throat"-was almost certainly Richard Ober, the right-hand man of James Angleton, the CIA's counterintelligence chief and longtime liaison to Israel's Mossad.
Miss Davis revealed that Ober was in charge of a joint CIA-Israeli counterintelligence desk established by Angleton inside the White House. From this listening post, Ober (at Angleton's direction) provided inside information to the Post about Watergate that helped bring down the Nixon administration.
All told, considering the record of Katharine Graham and her Washington Post empire, Washington humorist Art Buchwald probably wasn't far off from the truth when he told the Washington elite who gathered for Mrs. Graham's 70th birthday: "There's one word that brings us all together here tonight. And that word is fear."



Doug Henwood, The Washington Post: The Establishment's Paper(January, 1990)


When the manic-depressive Graham shot himself in 1963, the paper passed to his widow, Katharine. Though out of her depth at first, her instincts were safely establishmentarian. According to Deborah Davis' biography, Katharine the Great, Mrs. Graham was scandalized by the cultural and political revolutions of the 1960s, and wept when LBJ fused to run for reelection in 1968. (After Graham asserted that the book as "fantasy," Harcourt Brace Jovanovich pulled 20,000 copies of Katharine the Great in 1979. The book as re-issued by National Press in 87.)
The Post was one of the last major papers to turn against the Vietnam War. Even today, it hews to a hard foreign policy line--usually to the right of The New York Times, a paper not known or having transcended the Cold War.
There was Watergate, of course, that model of aggressive reporting ed by the Post. But even here, Graham's Post was doing the establishment's work. As Graham herself said, the investigation couldn't have succeeded without the cooperation of people inside the government willing to talk to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
These talkers may well have included the CIA; it's widely suspected that Deep Throat was an Agency man (or men). Davis argues that Post editor Ben Bradlee knew Deep Throat, and may even have set him up with Woodward. She produces evidence that in the early 1950s, Bradlee crafted propaganda for the CIA on the Rosenberg case for European consumption. Bradlee denies working "for" the CIA, though he admits having worked for the U.S. Information Agency - perhaps distinction without a difference.
In any case, it's clear that a major portion of the establishment wanted Nixon out. Having accomplished this, there was little taste for further crusading. Nixon had denounced the Post as "Communist" during the 1950s. Graham offered her support to Nixon upon his election in 1968, but he snubbed her, even directing his allies to challenge the Post Co.'s TV license in Florida a few ears later. The Reagans were a different story - for one thing, Ron's crowd knew that seduction was a better way to get good press than hostility. According to Nancy Reagan's memoirs, Graham welcomed Ron and Nancy to her Georgetown house in 1981 with a kiss. During the darkest days of Iran-Contra, Graham and Post editorial page editor Meg GreenfieId - lunch and phone companions to Nancy throughout the Reagan years - offered the First Lady frequent expressions of sympathy. Graham and the establishment never got far from the Gipper.



Deborah Davisinterviewed 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.

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