THE IMPERIAL POST: The Meyers, the Grahams and the Paper That Rules Washington by Tom Kelly

THE IMPERIAL POST: The Meyers, the Grahams and the Paper That Rules Washington

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There have been worse books about the Washington Post--but this combination of recycled dirt and high-minded preachment is a pretty poor specimen. Kelly starts gratuitously with Philip Graham's 1963 suicide; the Post will get bigger and better, he then writes, but not as good as the New York Times. There follows a sketchy, snide account of the lives of Eugene and Agnes Meyer, parallel to the ""life"" of the old Post, with one major theme: ""They were both outsiders on the fringe of high society and determined to belong to America's ruling class, to rise, as it were, above their origins, to erase past humiliations and triumph over old tormentors."" (A sub-theme is Agnes' infatuation with distinguished older men: ""He resigned from the Federal Reserve the same day Agnes fell in love with Paderewski."") The Post has meanwhile been ""ruined"" by Ned McLean's ""bizarre management""; Eugene succeeds in buying it; daughter Katherine comes to work, falls in love with ""a gangly young lawyer named Philip Graham,"" marries him and hangs back; Eugene, also smitten (as is Agnes--he's ""a charmer""), turns over the paper to him. . . and the balance shifts from domestic gossip to newsroom gossip, featuring the more promising likes of Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn and Nicholas Von Hoffman, Woodward-and-Bernstein and Janet Cooke. Those with a taste for Kelly's side-of-the-mouth patter, and who haven't heard it all before, may take to some of this sniping: ""Nicholas Von Hoffman was having an identity crisis. He had begun as the angry not-quite-so-young-man in the late Sixties. . . ."" The Janet Cooke debacle does pack a wallop, even here. (See especially the comments of immediate, mostly-black disbelievers.) Intermittent attention is paid to the performance of the Post's influential ombudsmen. Otherwise, Post embarrassments are aired, Post failings pointed up Latterly, Kelly distributes some unexplained accolades (foreign coverage second only to the Times, national coverage and editorial page superior), and seems to attribute all ills to Sally Quinn's influence. (His own announced connection with the Post, it turns out on inquiry, occurred as a copyboy in the Thirties.) An overblown trifle, for out-of-touch voyeurs.

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1983
Publisher: Morrow