Key Players
Katharine Graham

As publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham faced the full wrath of the Nixon administration as the paper's reporters sought to piece together the story of the Watergate burglary. "The investigation of such a tangled web of crime, money, and mischief was made much harder given the unveiled threats and harassment by a president and his administration," she wrote in an excerpt from her 1997 memoir, "Personal History." At the end of 1972, Republican businessmen challenged the licenses of two Florida TV stations owned by The Washington Post Company, causing the company's stock price to drop by more than 50 percent. "Sometimes I wondered if we could survive four more years of this kind of strain," she said.

Graham described her own role in the unfolding story as "a kind of devil's advocate, asking questions all along the way -- questions about whether we were being fair, factual and accurate." She downplayed the notion that she had showed courage standing by her reporters and editors, saying she had no choice. "By the time the story had grown to the point where the size of it dawned on us, we had already waded deeply into its stream," she wrote. "Once I found myself in the deepest water in the middle of the current, there was no going back."

Letter to Woodward and Bernstein (pdf)
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