The Post Behind ‘The Post': A History of Washington’s Top Newspaper (Exclusive Videos)

Washington Post veterans Lally Weymouth and Sally Quinn talk about the paper’s legacy, as part of “Close Up With TheWrap” video series presented by 20th Century Fox

This is one of a series of stories and videos in which TheWrap explores the background, history and repercussions of the events depicted in the film “The Post,” from the commission and leak of the top-secret Vietnam chronicle the Pentagon Papers to the legal battle over its publication.

These are landmark moments in the history of the Washington Post, the newspaper that gives title to and serves as the setting for “The Post”:

1877  The Washington Post is founded by Stilson Hutchins.

1880  The Post adds a Sunday edition to become the city’s first newspaper to publish seven days a week.

1889  The paper is taken over by new owners: Frank Hatton, a former postmaster general, and Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio.

1894 – 1905  After several changes at the top, John Roll McLean, the owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, becomes the Post’s new owner.

1933  The Depression pushes the paper toward bankruptcy until it is bought at auction by Eugene Meyer, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

1936  Editorial writer Felix Morley wins the Post’s first Pulitzer Prize.

1946  Eugene Meyer is succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law, Philip Graham.

1954  The Post merges with another morning paper, the Washington Times-Herald.

1963  Phillip Graham dies, leaving control of the paper to his wife, Katharine Graham, Meyer’s daughter. She serves as publisher from 1969 to 1979.

1968  Ben Bradlee, once a confidante of a young John F. Kennedy, becomes executive editor, serving through September 1991.

1971  The Post begins publishing stories based on the top-secret Pentagon Papers after a federal court injunction forces The New York Times to halt its publication of them.

1972  The Post’s coverage of a break-in at the Watergate hotel complex grows into a sprawling investigation of Nixon administration misconduct led by young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The reporting wins the Post a Pulitzer for Public Service and results in the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon.

1976  “All the President’s Men,” a film based on the book by Woodward and Bernstein, is released and receives eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

1979  Katharine Graham’s son, Donald, becomes publisher and in 1990 chairman of the board.

1980  “Jimmy’s World,” the story of an 8-year-old heroin addict, wins a Pulitzer for Janet Cooke, but later is found to be a fabrication. Cooke resigns and returns the Pulitzer.

1984  The Post buys Kaplan Inc., an education company, for $40 million.

1990  Donald Graham becomes chairman of the board.

1991  Katharine Graham steps down as CEO but remains chairman of the executive committee until her death in 2001.

2000  Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., succeeds Donald Graham as publisher and CEO; Graham remains board chairman.

2008  Katharine Weymouth, the granddaughter of Katharine Graham, succeeds Jones as publisher and CEO.

2013  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, purchases the Post for $250 million.

2014  Bezos appoints Frederick J. Ryan Jr., founding President and CEO of Politico, to serve as the Post’s publisher and chief executive. Ben Bradlee dies.

2017  David Fahrenthold wins the Post’s 51st Pulitzer for political campaign coverage that casts doubt on Donald Trump’s charitable giving.

2018  “The Post,” a film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, goes into wide release.

Watch the full interview with Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth here.

And the complete interview with Sally Quinn, Washington Post journalist and widow of the late Post top editor Ben Bradlee, by clicking here.