Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois on June 20, 1973 · Page 23
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois · Page 23

Publication:
Location:
Galesburg, Illinois
Issue Date:
Wednesday, June 20, 1973
Page:
Page 23
Start Free Trial
Cancel

Golesburg Register-Mail, Gqlesburg, III, Wednesday; June 20, J 1 ?73_23 Katharine Graham Challenge of Courage Washington Post Publisher Urged 'Watchdog' to Bark By IRA BERKOW NEA Senior Editor WASHINGTON - Publisher Katharine Graham walked into her large clean-lined but couchy office at The Washington Post She held a single long-stemmed rose. She had just been to the newsroom, three floors down on the fifth floor, where She is referred to as "The Dame," as in, "She's a good dame to work for." Third in a Series The television set in her office had been on and was sort of off-color. On the screen, James McCord was testifying before the Senate Watergate committee. McCord's face was nearly as deeded on this TV set as Mrs. Graham's rose. It was a fitting coincidence. For it was the 56-year-old Mrs. Graham, or rather her newspaper, or her reporters—actually, all three—who greatly were responsible • for James McCord being now in such an embarrassing predicament. IT GETS DEEPER and deeper, uglier and uglier, doesn't it?" she said, nodding toward McCord. She has followed the case closely through its dark and labyrinthian rooks and pestholes. It was The Washington Post, virtually alone among the nation's media, which initially pursued the Watergate story. It began on June 17, 1972, when five men were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Post managing editor Howard Simon called Mrs. Graham at home and said, "You will not believe what is going on." Although Mrs. Graham has not been directly involved in the decision-making of the investigation, her influence is omnipresent. She could have squashed it at any time. But then, she says, she could not have. "I don't mean to be corny or coy," she said, "but there was nothing really heroic about the whole thing. I mean my only decision was whether to back my editorial staff and my reporters. Well, I have great faith in their judgment and ability. I knew we had to go ahead with the story. That's really what our business is all about. HEROISM IS WHEN you have a choice. As the story unfolded I knew we were on sound ground. You can't shut your eyes to it. Besides, we had the full backing of the corporate group. They felt as I do that excellence on the news side and profits go hand-in-hand. It was that simple. But well, sure, I had sleepless nights. This is why: Perhaps never in history has one newspaper been so ferociously attacked by an administration as was The Washington Post in the last year. Charges of lies, shabby and irresponsible journalism and routine character assassinations were commonplace by the Nixonians. The newspaper's credibility was in jeopardy. ("And that's all a newspaper has really, is its credibility," said Mrs. Graham.) Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kans., said in a speech last fall that the only reason the Post was so insistent upon linking the Watergate break-in to the White House was that Mrs. Graham "hated Nixon." When she happened to run into Dole at a Washington party, she asked him about that statement. "Oh, you know how those things are," he told her. "They put something in your hands and you read it." She grimaced now, as she recalled it, and said, "No matter how outrageous someone's remarks might be proved, some of that drip, drip, drip, sticks." STOCK AT THE WASHINGTON POST Company (which includes Newsweek magazine as well es two Florida television stations and other media holdings) had reached an all-time high on Dec. 29, 1972, but soon plummeted from $38 a share to 23 and one-half. Some might have made a connection between the fall in price and the fact that the administration was challenging the renewal of the licenses of the two Post TV stations. The uncertain credibility status of the Post at the time may have been a factor in the stock drop. However, it is true that the stock market in general had been in a down period. "We had to be concerned about whether we were being used by Democrats, or even the Republicans who wanted to discredit us. We aisked ourselves if there was some enormous Kafka plot," said Mrs. Graham. She added that this Was the most difficult period for the paper, even tougher than when the Post printed the Pentagon Papers, after the New York Times had been forced to desist publishing by court order. THE PAPER CONTINUED to root out the apparent political espionage and the cynical attempts at obstructing justice by the administration, despite the disbelief, skepticism and lack of help by much of the nation's media. "It was fantastic to think about," said Mrs. Graham. "And all of us were asking why was this happening when obviously the campaign was against McGovern," She said no one wanted" to believe that Nixon's re-election committee would have been so currupt under those circumstances. As for the Post being alone for so long in reporting the Watergate case, Mrs. Graham said, "Not many in Washington are equipped to do this kind of police reporting. It's pretty grungy work and so few have the manpower. And when it began coming to light, we had the sources and it was hard for the others to catch up." Mrs. Graham encouraged the reportorial digging, and the accuracy of facts, in two ways. First, as Executive Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee says, there has been created an overpowering atmosphere of professionalism" at the paper. So all facts were checked two and three times. Secondly, there was the personal sense of outrage Mrs. Graham felt toward.the apparent criminal acts of the administration. "PEOPLE THOUGHT IT was all right to do wrong things for a cause," said Mrs. Graham. "The atmosphere of the administration was one of helping to corrupt the judicial process—the structure of the nation." Needless to say, Mrs. Graham derived satisfaction—not to mention a kind of peace of mind—when the Post proved right and the administration wrong. In effect, it meant that she and the Post were also correct in this case about the integrity and responsibility of American journalism. The exposure of the Watergate scandal, which probably could not have been accomplished unless sources knew their identities would be kept confidential by reporters, illustrates a point which Mrs. Graham believes is essential for the public to understand. That is, the role of newspapers as a watchdog for the public cannot be accomplished fully without the freedom of reporters to keep sources confidential. In recent years, however, the courts in a few instances have jailed reporters for not revealing sources. MRS. GRAHAM SAYS SHE does not like to be interviewed. "The press," she said, "should be the chorus in the play, not the characters." Yet it is undeniable that the Post is a character in this sordid melodrama called Watergate. And for a long time, it had been the only sleuth in town. Mrs. Graham said that in her most difficult moments during the investigation— and the recriminations—she drew on something her father, Eugene Meyer, the late owner of the Post, had told her. When you think you're right, he had said, you must be willing to stand alone. (NEXT: The Mollenhoff Cocktail) LOWER FOOD PRICES Golesburg Store OPEN DAILY 8 a.m. -10 p«fii« SATURDAY $ d.fti. — 9 p.m. SUNDAY 9-1 & 4-9 FRESH U.S. Govt. Inspct Whole GROUND BEEF FRYING CHICKENS KISLER BROS. lb lb CHOPPED BEEF SIRLOIN 29 lb Beef PlusT.V.P. LESS SHRINK GROCERY 931 S. SEMINARY (iAI.KSlU 1U, OUR OWN ITALIAN SAUSAGE . l 09 OUR OWN PORK SAUSAGE lb BOSTON BUTT PORK ROASTS IC lb IUHTE n - SOLTH ABINGDON YOUNG TENDER BEEF LIVER lb Jimmy Dean SAUSAGE lb lb HEINZ GENUINE BARREL DILL PICKLES Dubuque ROYAL BUFFET BACON 97c JENO'S Korn Top ALL MEAT BULK BOLOGNA J9 C CHEESE PIZZA MIX BUDDIG CHIPPED BEEF Pkg. Bbl. Size 29 Oz. Box 3 Oz. Jar Coca Cola STAR KIST PARKAY Cihunk Light TUNA 6K2 oz .k njt GERBER Bo by Food 10* SOFT MARGARINE 41* 1 Lb. Tub ALL STAR VANILLA ICE (REAM $115 Gal. I HYDROX CANNED BEVERAGES 6 Cans*' 65* TIDE 1 84 oz. $|35 Pkg. RAGGEDY ANN A 1° Atklt I STEWED TOMATOES Z n. 49* li 35* 35* 79* PARKAY KRAFT COLESLAW DRESSING PET WHIP FROZEN NON-DAIRY TOPPING 8 oz. Btl. 10 oz. Ctn. 3-Lb. Tin MRS. TUCKER'S Shortening DENNIS lO'/z oz. Af| J> BONED CHICKEN ... Jar W 22-Oz. Btl. SATM&RS COOKIES —. THRILL LIQUID Detergent- BETTY CROCKER AU GRATI Potatoes BORDEN Gal. Fruit Drinks -- Ju a KRAFT BARBEQUE SAUCE BAGGIES Trash Bags — 5% oz. Box 3 Reg. $4 Pkg. I 46* 39* 39* 59* 18 oz, Btl. 10 Ct. Pkg. MARGARINE 1 Lb. Pkg. BORDEN'S COTTAGE CHEESE 2 Lb. Ctn. 63* Country Delight WHITE BREAD J* Loaves 49 GALA Towels 39 JUMBO ROIL FRESH PRODUCE DAILY I BANANAS MEDIUM YELLOW ONIONS SWEET CORN LB. LB. 5 EARS 13* 19* 59* 40* OFF ON CARTON LARK CIGARETTES With This Coupon HI40 62473 CRYSTAL WHITE LIQUID 4,o, DETERGENT 6,1 DOWNY FABRIC 50FTNER 64-Oz. Btl. $124 DUNCAN HINES Cake Mixes 18 Oz. Pkg. MINUTE MAID Minute Maid , ORANGE JUICE 12 Oz. Can AXION Pre-Soak 23 oz. Box 59c SMBL CLIP & SAVE WHsJ 1 BUTTER-NUT COFFEE 3 Lb. $939 Tin Mm With This Coupon HUO (Q 6-2473 lYYYYYYXMXMXi

What members have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 8,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Try it free