Katharine the Great
Eulogies for Washington Post's Publisher Ignore Sordid Past, Intelligence Connections
By Michael Collins Piper
Exclusive To American Free Press
August 22, 2001
Longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee once said of his publisher, Katharine Graham, that she had "the guts of a burglar." In fact, she may have had even more guts than that. The mainstream media was most reticent about reporting the circumstances surrounding a strange incident in the life of the recently de ceased publisher.
A legendary figure in the global media monopoly died on July 17-the very day American Free Press was born. Katharine Meyer Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine and grande dame of a multi-billion dollar major media empire, died of injuries from a fall in Sun Valley, Idaho, several days before.
At the time of her accident, Mrs. Graham-a longtime figure in the powerful Bilderberg group-and a host of other luminaries of the plutocratic media elite were engaged in a high-level meeting held annually in Sun Valley that-at least until Mrs. Graham's accident-received little or no publicity in the mainstream press controlled by those elite media power-brokers who attend that gathering.
While there is no evidence that the death of the 83-year-old Mrs. Graham was anything other than an accident, the truth is that there still remain questions about the supposed "suicide" of her husband, Philip Graham, who preceded her as head of the Post empire. In fact, Graham's death was quite convenient for a lot of people -and saved a lot of people a lot of grief.
Although the media monopoly spent many column inches eulogizing Mrs. Graham, the full story of her husband's demise was largely unmentioned, other than to portray her as a simple housewife who had succeeded to a powerful position in the face of tragedy.
A bit of historical background is necessary to understand why somebody may have found it necessary to arrange for a staged "suicide" for Philip Graham.
The daughter of Wall Street wheeler-dealer and leading Zionist financier Eugene Meyer, who bought The Washington Post in 1933-just shortly after resigning as a governor of the Federal Reserve System-Katharine Meyer married poor-boy-turned-Harvard lawyer Philip Graham in 1940.
In just six years, after Meyer assumed the first presidency of the new World Bank, appointed by President Harry Truman, Meyer named his son-in-law publisher and editor-in-chief of the Post. In 1948, Meyer transferred his actual control of the Post stock to his daughter and her husband. However, Katharine received only 30 percent of the stock. Her husband received 70 percent of the stock, his purchase financed by his father-in-law who trusted Graham and believed quite simply that no man should have to be burdened with working for his own wife.
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."
All the Publisher's Men
Gloria Steinem - How The CIA Used Feminism To Destabilize Society (Mar. 19, 2002)
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