History of Newspapers: The Washington Post Part 2

About the history of the United States newspaper The Washington Post, information about the paper and some of their scoops.


The Present. A reporter's paper, The Washington Post has a lively, competitive staff. Though there is considerable infighting among them, morale is high. (They have been known to toss a football around the newsroom in an excess of high spirits.) A national paper whose closest rival is The New York Times, the Post has a huge news-department staff, perhaps the best political staff in the country, and a fine editorial group. The Post and the Times exchange photo-transmissions of their front pages; each tries to cover the other's exclusives. With the Los Angeles Times, the Post runs an international news service for nearly 200 U.S. and over 100 foreign newspapers.

Somewhat reformist, politically independent, and leaning toward the liberal side, the Post serves a diverse readership: members of Congress, residents of the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, and over 100,000 slum dwellers.

Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Post, says about the paper: "It makes no pretense at a do-gooder's role. It is at the service of all. But the service, the journalist's role, is to offer a tough-minded appraisal of what things really look like, what's really ailing the world--and the people in it--and why. . . . The life of democracy demands above all a love of truth--precisely as tyranny alone can consistently practice the lie."

Scoops. With The New York Times, The Washington Post published, in 1971, classified Pentagon Papers on U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. The Justice Dept. obtained a restraining order against both papers, pending a ruling on permanent injunction. However, by a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the press to publish the documents under the protection of the 1st Amendment.

On February 9, 1972, Jack Anderson of the Post published an alleged ITT memo written by Dita Beard, who worked for ITT. The memo described the success of a plan in which ITT underwrote the costs of the Republican 1972 convention, ostensibly in exchange for the settling of an antitrust program.

It was The Washington Post that 1st uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972 through the efforts of reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

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