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Kissinger: Graham a 'good friend' through it all

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Katharine Graham guided The Washington Post through some of the most tumultuous years of American politics during which her newspaper was often in the forefront with its reporting. Even so, she forged friendships with some of the major characters of the stories her paper covered. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who spoke with CNN's Natalie Allen, was one of them.

NATALIE ALLEN: What can you tell us about your friendship with Katharine Graham?

HENRY KISSINGER: She was a good friend, and we were close friends through all the vicissitudes of politics, where she usually was on the other side of the issues from me. But that did not affect our friendship.

ALLEN: How did you first become aware of Katharine Graham? When did you first get to know her professionally?

KISSINGER: I first got to know her when I came to Washington as national security adviser, and a mutual friend who was a columnist arranged a dinner for Kay Graham and me. Our relationship developed from that. It was a strange relationship in the sense that her paper was on the opposite side from my views very often, but she never attempted to use our friendship for any benefit for her newspaper. She never asked me for special interviews or anything of that kind. She left that to the newspapers.

ALLEN: We have had others on today who have said that she was well liked by Republicans and Democrats in Washington. What gave her such courage during the Watergate era as she took The Washington Post to such heights? She later said she came from being a housewife, and an abused wife as well, and then she did such a fantastic job at The Washington Post.

KISSINGER: I don't know about that part of her life, except for what I've read in her memoirs. She never talked about that part of her life to me. What gave her strength was integrity. She had overcome extreme shyness and had become very sure of herself without ever losing her human touch. And she was somebody on whom as a human being one could totally rely whatever different his views might have been. I think she ran a great newspaper.

ALLEN: We heard Ben Bradlee earlier talk about how badly The Washington Post wanted to be a great newspaper. Katharine Graham certainly did that for the Post. What will be her legacy as far as her influence on journalism and the workings of Washington?

KISSINGER: Her legacy will be a legacy of integrity, or courage, and high quality. She did all of this with high quality.

ALLEN: What will you miss most as far as your friend Katharine Graham being gone?

KISSINGER: I will miss a dear friend who was always there when needed emotionally, who leaves a big void in our lives. We used to exchange visits to each other's houses; we shared each other's lives. She is irreplaceable. And my wife feels exactly the same way.

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