The ﬁrst box I opened was so ﬁlled with onionskin copies of Ben’s correspondence that its sides were bowed. I pulled one of the folders at random and came across a 1977 letter to Katharine Graham, then the Post’s publisher:
Dear Mrs. Graham:
Messrs. Eugene Meyer and Philip L. Graham must be turning over in their graves because of the way you are dragging down what used to be a wonderful newspaper.
In my humble opinion, I think the persons really responsible for the Washington Post’s decline are Benjamin C. Bradlee and Philip L. Geyelin.
Beneath it was Ben’s response:
Dear Mr. Dodderidge:
Your letter to Mrs. Graham reminded me of the story about W. C. Fields sitting with a drink in his hand in his garden one afternoon.
His secretary interrupted him repeatedly to tell him that a strange man wanted to see him and refused to say what he wanted to see him about. Finally Fields told his secretary to give the man “an equivocal answer—tell him to go fuck himself.”