The Steven Spielberg movie “The Post” opens today.
MARK HERTSGAARD, mark at markhertsgaard.com, @markhertsgaard
Hertsgaard’s books include On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.
COLMAN McCARTHY, cmccarthy at starpower.net
A former Washington Post columnist, McCarthy is founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C., and the author of several books including I’d Rather Teach Peace.
He said today: “As with all corporations, and as with all individuals, The Washington Post, whether headed by Katharine [Graham] or Jeff Bezos, is a mix of flaws and virtues. Its most grating negative was the early and avid editorial support it gave to the U.S. military invasions of Vietnam in the mid-1960s and the invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2002. Its virtues included giving space to conscientious and anti-guff reporters like Morton Mintz and William Greider. As a pacifist, I was privileged to be given space on the Post’s op-ed page and other parts of the paper from 1969 to 1997. I don’t ever recall an editor spiking a column because it was too far to the left.”
Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, recently wrote the piece “The Other Side of the Post’s Katharine Graham” for Consortium News, which states: “Katharine Graham’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers was indeed laudable, helping to expose lies that had greased the wheels of the war machinery with such horrific consequences in Vietnam. But the Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place. No amount of rave reviews or Oscar nominations for ‘The Post’ will change that awful truth.”
Ben Bagdikian, the Washington Post editor who actually obtained a copy of the Pentagon Papers from whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, left the paper shortly afterward, criticizing the paper; see his 1976 piece for the Washington Monthly: “Maximizing Profits at the Washington Post.” Bagdikian appeared on many Institute for Public Accuracy news releases before his death in 2016. See his memoir, Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession. Also see Sanford Ungar’s “The Papers Papers.”