Matt Roth for The New York Times
華盛頓——在華盛頓城一年一度的媒體、政界、好萊塢眾星雲 集的盛典——2012白宮記者晚宴舉辦前夜，凱瑟琳·韋茅斯 (Katharine Weymouth)也舉辦了她自己的華盛頓名流晚宴。當年，她的外祖母、《華盛頓郵報》先驅出版人凱·格雷厄姆(Katharine Graham)曾多次舉辦這類晚宴，也因此聞名。
在韋茅斯寬敞通透、精雕細琢的宅邸里，凱·格雷厄姆的摯友 與後人圍坐在晚宴餐桌前，他們中有前總統克林頓的顧問弗農·喬丹(Vernon Jordan)，老布殊在任期間的白宮顧問C·博伊登·格雷(C. Boyden Gray)，凱·格雷厄姆的長子、時任華盛頓郵報公司首席執行官唐納德(Donald)，凱的女兒、凱瑟琳·韋茅斯的母親拉里·韋茅斯(Lally Weymouth)，她也是一位踏遍全球的記者、曼哈頓的社交名媛，因採訪數位中東獨裁者和舉辦美國獨立日漢普頓派對而聞名。
Linda Davidson/The Washington Post, via Getty Images2008年，前任主編小倫納德·唐尼(Leonard Downie Jr.)宣布退休，接受韋茅斯女士的擁抱。
From left: Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Katherine Frey/The Washington Post鮑偉傑(Marcus Brauchli)，右，韋茅斯女士聘用他接替準備退休的唐尼先生擔任主編。馬汀·巴倫(Martin Baron)，左，隨後又接替了鮑偉傑成為主編。
Matt Roth for The New York Times韋茅斯女士，於她在《華盛頓郵報》的辦公室里，牆上掛着她的外祖母凱瑟琳·格雷厄姆（左）和她的母親拉里·韋茅斯的合影。
Rich Lipski/Associated Press《華盛頓郵報》董事會主席唐納德·格雷厄姆和他的姐姐拉里·韋茅斯，於2001年其母的葬禮上。
當時餐桌首席坐着凱瑟琳·韋茅斯，這位畢業於哈佛大學、斯 坦福大學的昔日律師，育有三個孩子的47歲單身母親，是《郵報》的第四代出版人。座上賓客交談往來，她輕聲唱和，引導着沙龍風格的討論，圍繞經濟與總統大 選展開。宴席落幕，不易取悅的韋茅斯夫人（韋茅斯女士的母親）對女兒舉辦的晚宴讚不絕口。
幾十年來，華盛頓人對格雷厄姆家族仔細審視、加以神化，熱 情不讓英國人對皇室的追捧；而此情此景，家族中的無限風雲不言自明，令眾多華盛頓人痴迷不已。今天，報業的大氣候愈加困窘，韋茅斯女士即擔起了捍衛皇冠寶 石的重擔。在整個家族、整個城市的眾目期待中，這個差事談何容易。
她在這座首都城市、這個行業中開闢着新境，而與她外祖母當 年相比，這座城市、這個行業已發生了翻天覆地的變化：那時，大城市的報紙廣告收益充盈；《郵報》曾促使一任總統下台；將近四十年，凱·格雷厄姆掌控着華盛 頓的社交圈，在她的喬治敦豪宅中宴請總統首相們，在白宮裡與各國國王和王后們進餐。
「凱的傳奇在華盛頓將是空前絕後的，因為時代不同了。」專 欄作家、本·布萊德利(Ben Bradlee)，其與格雷厄姆夫人的合作在《總統班底》中有所記載）的妻子薩莉·奎因(Sally Quinn)說，「人們的生活方式與想法也不同了，又帶孩子，又加班苦幹。這不是凱瑟琳想要的。」
韋茅斯女士八面玲瓏：她是職業媽媽、熱衷廚藝的美食家、無 所畏懼的滑雪者（《郵報》前執行總編莉茲·施佩[Liz Spayd]評說：「她還沒有遇見過一個她不敢征服的雪坡。」）、健身狂（「她可以一直做拉伸，一直一直做下去。」帕麗·布萊德利[Pari Bradlee]，瑜珈教練、本的兒媳如是說）。除此以外，她曾經是華盛頓城最搶手的約會對象（在與一位當地的建築師分手後，韋茅斯女士與昔日戀人、美國 在線[AOL]的前副總裁馬蒂·莫[Marty Moe]重燃舊情）。
對於自己的名氣，她並不太當回事，而是更喜歡享樂生活。過 去許多年中，她與好友埃爾金女士舉辦後花園夏日白衣舞會，作為對1966年杜魯門·卡波特(Truman Capote)為凱·格雷厄姆舉辦的盛大奢華的黑白化妝舞會的惡搞。有一次，在科羅拉多州阿斯彭的一間會所里，韋茅斯女士發現揚基隊三壘手亞歷克斯·羅德 里格茲(Alex Rodriguez)正在偷看她跳舞。
在她的2012年「成人晚宴」上，她穿了一件從傑西潘尼 (J.C.Penny)買來的35美金的圓領無袖背心裙，算是對《郵報》的重要廣告商傑西潘尼不乏俏皮的致敬，而潘尼百貨的時任執行總裁羅恩·約翰遜 (Ron Johnson)則是當晚的賓客之一（她也給埃爾金女士和她母親韋茅斯夫人買了傑西潘尼的裙裝，埃爾金穿了，而韋茅斯夫人，是寧死也不會穿的）。
韋茅斯女士熱衷於展示她那健美的身姿。在一次照片拍攝中， 她穿着一席明快的白色無袖緊身裙和一雙四英寸高的檸檬綠色Jimmy Choo鞋出現在攝影棚里，編輯部里傳來一陣傻笑。當然，她為此付出了辛苦；埃爾金女士稱，她倆每周日上午都在一位私人健身教練的陪同下，進行自由力量器 械和男式俯卧撐訓練。
據美國新聞媒體審計聯盟(the Alliance for Audited Media)稱，《郵報》廣告收入正在下降，日均發行量由韋茅斯女士接管時的673,180份降低至三月份的474,767份。
沒有靈丹妙藥，她發起了華盛頓保衛戰——裁員，關閉紐約、 洛杉磯、芝加哥辦公室，取消了久負盛譽的周日圖書世界版塊，以達到她任《郵報》董事的舅舅交給她的任務：讓報紙扭虧為盈（她說報紙已經在扭虧為盈，而周五 母公司的報告稱，相比於去年同期，報紙第二季度收入下降了14%）。
1963年，格雷厄姆夫人在其丈夫自殺後接管郵報公司（後 來成為出版人和執行總裁）。從20世紀50年代的家庭主婦搖身變成首位領軍五百強公司的女性（亦是獲普利策獎回憶錄的作者），這個巨大的轉變讓格雷厄姆夫 人一生都在與局促不安的內心作鬥爭，而這一點是韋茅斯女士所不曾經歷的。
「比起凱，凱瑟琳要更自信得多，」在《郵報》工作了50年 的副主編羅伯特·G.凱澤(Robert G. Kaiser)說，「但再自信，她還是有心理負擔。最大的憂慮，就是『報紙會不會砸在我手裡？我會不會成為那個敗家子？』這是我和凱、和唐納德打過交道後 的親身體會。」
如果說她的社交生活有一個中心的話，那這個中心就是這裡。 在這座房子里，住着她和三個孩子：13歲的瑪德琳(Madeleine)，11歲的貝克特(Beckett)和9歲的布里奇特(Bridget)；除此以 外，還有一大堆的寵物（三隻狗、一隻豚鼠、一隻兔子、兩隻沙鼠和一隻倉鼠）；這裡還住着奧蘭達(Olinda)，祖母一樣的女管家，是她從格雷厄姆夫人那 裡「算是繼承過來」的。這裡上演了無數場家庭聚餐和密友聚會，摯友中包括她在牛津大學讀書時結識的埃爾金女士。
韋茅斯女士以她的廚藝為榮，這又是她與家庭傳統大相徑庭的 一點。「我媽媽從不做飯，我外祖母也從沒做過飯，」她說，「她的孩子們都是傭人帶大的。他們會拿星期天的晚餐開玩笑，因為那是唯一她得做飯的晚上，而那一 餐恐怖得狠，有早餐式的炒雞蛋和金寶湯(Campbell)牌的罐頭湯。」
韋茅斯女士皺起眉（「那是我用來做晚飯的！」她說），但她 不是真的生氣，看得出，這是生活恢復平靜後的珍貴瞬間。2011年4月，將滿七歲的布里奇特從小馬上摔下，左臂受傷。在接下來的28天里，小布里奇特在這 裡的兒童醫院接受了十幾次手術（隨後又到紐約進行兩次手術）。韋茅斯女士搬進了醫院，在孩子病床前辦公開會。
韋茅斯女士說，搬家到華盛頓、接管家族事業，這從來沒有出 現在她的「宏偉人生計劃」中。沉悶的華盛頓特區離她長大的曼哈頓似乎隔着十萬八千里。在曼哈頓，她就讀布里爾利女校(Brearley School)，並在上學期間跟從美國芭蕾舞學校(School of American Ballet)學習跳舞，參演芭蕾舞劇《胡桃夾子》，對舞蹈的訴求堪稱執着。
她的父親楊·韋茅斯(Yann Weymouth)是位著名建築師（傳聲頭像樂隊[Talking Heads]創始人、貝斯手蒂娜·韋茅斯[Tina Weymouth]的哥哥），在凱瑟琳和她的妹妹帕梅拉(Pamela)還小的時候，他就和她們的母親離婚了。姐妹倆在紐約上東區母親的文學圈子裡長大成 人。
她們的童年歲月常常在外出赴宴中度過（「外祖母比較反對這 個，」韋茅斯女士說），或是在伊萊恩餐廳(Elaine)里喝可樂。母親拉里的很多採訪旅程她們都隨行。「我們於是有機會到阿勒頗會所(Club d』Alep)吃飯，見到一些敘利亞的貴族，」與《時尚》雜誌(Vogue)主編戴安娜•弗里蘭(Diana Vreeland)討論時尚，與亞歷山大·庫克柏恩(Alexander Cockburn)談論政治，這位來自英國的左翼記者，曾經一度是韋茅斯夫人的同居男友。
「那是一種陽春白雪的生活格調，」百老匯導演戴安·保羅斯 （Diane Paulus，作品：歌舞劇《毛髮》[Hair]，《皮平》[Pippin]）評論說，她是韋茅斯女士小學三年級起的好朋友，「我們那時也就是八、九歲， 九、十歲的樣子，參加大人們那些盛大的晚宴，每個孩子都要出敬酒詞。拉里談笑風生、時髦優雅、善抒政見。晚宴上每每談到政治，她總是期待孩子們也能應對得 體、參與討論。」
在牛津讀書期間，她喝啤酒、劃賽艇，還經過了一個酷愛黑皮 衣的叛逆期。「她簡直讓我害怕，她太酷了。」埃爾金女士說。這讓她的一次以色列之行險些鬧了笑話。當時她經停巴黎去看她的父親韋茅斯先生，他那時在協助貝 聿銘設計盧浮宮的玻璃金字塔。由韋茅斯夫人起草的行程緊密繁忙，其中包括與本雅明·內塔尼亞胡(Benjamin Netanyahu)在以色列議會共進午餐，以及在伊扎克·拉賓(Yitzhak Rabin)和夫人莉亞·拉賓(Leah Rabin)的宅邸享用晚餐。
沒能留在西海岸，她來到負責《郵報》法律事務的威廉姆斯— 康諾利律師事務所(Williams & Connolly)做了一名訴訟律師。她的哈佛室友妮可·查普曼(Nicole Chapman)說，她想要獨立，「讓自己——凱瑟琳·韋茅斯——得到認可，」她也想將來養育兒女，做一個比她自己的母親「更投入、更稱職的母親」。
為迎接長孫女的學成歸來，格雷厄姆夫人邀請了華盛頓城最前 程似錦的年輕新秀參加社交晚宴。賓客中包括克林頓班底的喬治·斯蒂芬諾伯羅斯(George Stephanopoulos)，克林頓高參喬丹先生也派了他的甥女卡羅琳·奈爾斯(Carolyn Niles)赴宴，她現在已是韋茅斯女士的密友。「凱真的花了很多心思幫凱瑟琳建立社交圈子，」奈爾斯女士說。
如果說凱（瑟琳）·格雷厄姆將與她同名的外孫女看成了事業 接班人的話，她也並未明說，儘管祖孫倆很明顯是那麼的親密無間。韋茅斯女士在斯坦福的同學安·卡華斯(Ann Calfas)追憶起韋茅斯的外祖母開車送她們去參加朋友婚禮時那種單純的欣悅，「她沖我們說，『姑娘們，上車！』」
如果說韋茅斯女士做過什麼讓熟識她的人感到困惑的決定的 話，那就是她1998年嫁給華盛頓的律師理乍得·斯庫利(Richard Scully)。婚禮在她母親南漢普頓的家中舉行，邀請了470位名流貴客，無疑是一席典型的拉里式的盛事。一位朋友透露，奧斯卡·德拉倫塔(Oscar de la Renta)不僅為韋茅斯女士設計了婚紗，他還親自到場為她穿戴整理。
去年，斯庫利先生被指控侵犯他的女友。對方撤訴後，韋茅斯 女士回到了法庭，稱前夫通過短訊和電子郵件騷擾她，還在他們的孩子面前「大發雷霆」。斯庫利先生的律師，馬克·E·夏默爾(Mark E. Schamel)稱，這項指控是「無中生有」，並認為這是韋茅斯女士的離婚律師在「趁火打劫」。
朋友們都說韋茅斯女士成為了一個無事不問的超級媽媽（儘管 據她描述，她還有「一個半保姆」幫忙）。每天清晨，她都早起為孩子們準備熱乎乎的早餐，然後開車送他們上學。這個城市的夜生活交際圈豐富錯綜，她往往精挑 細選。她是阿爾文•艾利舞蹈團(Alvin Ailey dance company)晚宴和筆會/福克納基金(PEN/Faulkner Foundation)晚宴的常客，因為埃爾金女士是董事。
韋茅斯女士對此並未深究。「我不相信神神鬼鬼的事，」她 說。但是，在規划著家族事業未來道路的同時，她也深深沉浸在過去里。外祖母的相片整齊排掛在她辦公室的牆上。格雷厄姆夫人撰寫的回憶錄擺放在架子上，韋茅 斯女士準備在演講中引用的部分都夾着便條貼。2008年2月她上任的第一天，為了討個好彩頭，她戴了格雷厄姆夫人的珍珠首飾。
做出更換主編的決定後，她選中了《華爾街日報》的鮑偉傑 (Marcus Brauchli)，這是四十年中《郵報》首次啟用非家族內的人做主編。各大雜誌紛紛感嘆她找到了她的本·布萊德利。然而好景不長，這對絕配搭檔被曝光籌 劃「私密」晚餐，這個看上去極像凱·格雷厄姆當年舉辦的沙龍聚會的晚餐，在韋茅斯女士家中舉行，向政治說客收取高達25萬美元的「門票」，以擔保其與奧巴 馬班底及《郵報》記者同席就餐。
有一個線索，為《郵報》「占卜未來」的人們說，可以在公司 的車庫裡找到。凱·格雷厄姆多年來一直開着一輛車牌號為149的車，這個華盛頓特區的牌照，號碼極為靠前。該牌照曾經是她的父親尤金·邁耶(Eugene Meyer)的，正是他在1933年買下了面臨破產的《郵報》。現在，這個牌照出現在韋茅斯女士的1991版寶馬敞篷車上。
與此同時，事情有所轉機。一月份，韋茅斯女士將主編由鮑偉 傑替換為馬汀·巴倫(Martin Baron)，他此前是《波士頓環球報》(Boston Globe)一名作風乾練的記者（再之前在《紐約時報》工作），他的到來使《郵報》報道覆蓋內容更加犀利，士氣有所提高，他也因此得到了讚許。那些整天質 疑他們的出版人是否「理解他們在幹什麼」的《郵報》記者們，現在開始思量，也許，也許這次她真的尋到了她的本·布萊德利。
也有人完全不看好她。《衛報》(The Guardian)專欄作家麥克爾·沃爾夫(Michael Wolff)最近批評韋茅斯女士，稱她「工作做得一團糟，除了出身，沒有任何其他資格。」
The Next Edition
August 31, 2013
On the eve of the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, this city’s annual media-politico-Hollywood love fest, Katharine Weymouth convened the sort of Washington power dinner for which her grandmother, Katharine Graham, the pioneering publisher of The Washington Post, was famous.
Around the dining room table in Ms. Weymouth’s airy Craftsman home sat a collection of Kay Graham’s intimates and descendants: Vernon Jordan, the Clinton consigliere; C. Boyden Gray, counsel to the first President Bush; her oldest son Donald, now chief executive of the company that owns The Post; and Lally Weymouth, Mrs. Graham’s daughter and Ms. Weymouth’s mother, a globe-trotting journalist and Manhattan socialite known for both her interviews with Middle East dictators and glitzy Fourth of July Hamptons parties.
At the head of the table sat Ms. Weymouth, a Harvard- and Stanford-educated lawyer, single mother of three and, at 47, a fourth-generation publisher of The Post. As her guests chatted, she gently intervened, steering the conversation, salon-style, toward the economy and presidential politics. When it was over, Mrs. Weymouth, not an easy one to please, showered her daughter with praise.
“It was a big moment,” said Molly Elkin, Ms. Weymouth’s best friend and one of the dinner party guests. “It was sort of like: ‘I’ve passed the baton, kid. You’ve learned well, you did a good job.’ ”
It was the kind of scene, rife with unspoken family drama, that captivates longtime Washingtonians, who have scrutinized and mythologized the Grahams for decades, much as the British do their royalty. Now, in an exceedingly difficult climate for newspapers, Ms. Weymouth is charged with saving the crown jewels. In a city and a clan filled with expectations for her, that is no easy task.
She is carving her path in a capital, and an industry, vastly changed from the one her grandmother inhabited when big-city newspapers were flush with advertising; The Post helped bring down a president; and for nearly four decades, Mrs. Graham ruled social Washington, feting presidents and prime ministers in her elegant Georgetown manse, dining at the White House with kings and queens.
“There is never going to be another Kay, never in Washington, because the times are different,” said Sally Quinn, the columnist and the wife of Ben Bradlee, the editor whose partnership with Mrs. Graham was chronicled in “All The President’s Men.” “People just don’t entertain that way,” Ms. Quinn said. “People have kids, they work late. That is not what Katharine wants to do.”
Ms. Weymouth is many things: a working mother and enthusiastic cook; a fearless skier (“She has not met a slope she won’t take,” says Liz Spayd, a former managing editor of The Post); a fitness buff (“She can crunch till the cows come home,” said Pari Bradlee, a yoga instructor and daughter-in-law to Ben) and, for a while, one of the most sought-after dates in town. (After seeing a local architect, Ms. Weymouth has recently reunited with an old flame, Marty Moe, a former AOL executive.)
She does not take her famous name too seriously, and she likes to have fun. For years, she and Ms. Elkin, a labor lawyer, held a backyard Summer White Party, a spoof on the lavish Black and White Ball hosted in 1966 by Truman Capote to honor Mrs. Graham. Once, at a club in Aspen, Colo., Ms. Weymouth spied Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez watching her dance.
“We are the only people in this club who don’t want anything from you,” she announced. “Come dance with us.” He said he would rather watch.
To her 2012 “grown-up” dinner, she wore a $35 scoop-neck sleeveless sundress from J. C. Penney, a playful nod to an important Post advertiser whose chief executive at the time, Ron Johnson, was a guest. (She bought J. C. Penney dresses for Ms. Elkin, who wore hers, and Mrs. Weymouth, who wouldn’t be caught dead in one.)
Ms. Weymouth’s penchant for showing off her athletic figure — she arrived for a photo shoot in a crisp white sleeveless sheath and four-inch lime green Jimmy Choos — provokes titters in the newsroom. Then again, she works hard for it; Ms. Elkin said the two spend Sunday mornings doing free weights and “boy push-ups” with a personal trainer.
“We smack-talk each other the entire time,” Ms. Elkin said, “just like we did when we were 20 years old.”
Quick-witted and no-nonsense, Ms. Weymouth is more like her steely grandmother than her famously demanding and mercurial mother. But since becoming publisher in February 2008, she has had a rocky ride; she has already hired her second editor, and critics lament that she is presiding over a newspaper in retreat.
Ad revenue is declining and average daily circulation was 474,767 in March, down from 673,180 when Ms. Weymouth took over, the Alliance for Audited Media said.
Lacking the magic bullet, she is emphasizing a local mission — she has reduced staff, shut bureaus in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and eliminated the well-regarded Book World section on Sunday — to meet demands by her uncle, and The Post board, that the newspaper turn a profit. (It is, she said, although on Friday the parent company reported a 14 percent drop in second-quarter earnings, compared to a year ago.)
Recently, she upset sentimentalists by putting The Post’s 15th Street headquarters up for sale. She says her grandmother always hated the boxy building.
But while Mrs. Graham, who took over the company in 1963 after her husband’s suicide (and later became publisher and chief executive), battled lifelong insecurities as she transformed herself from a 1950s housewife to the first woman to run a Fortune 500 company (as well as the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir), not so Ms. Weymouth.
“Katharine is far more comfortable in her own skin than Kay ever was,” said Robert G. Kaiser, a Post associate editor who has worked there for 50 years. Still, he said: “She has a burden. Your biggest anxiety, as I know from personal experience with Kay and Don, is: ‘Am I going to screw this up? Am I the one who is going to be remembered as the goof-off who couldn’t keep it together?’ ”
On a steamy summer Friday in July, Ms. Weymouth was curled up on her living room couch, not in fashionable Georgetown but in the practically suburban northwest Washington neighborhood of Chevy Chase, where a Post honor box and fleet of scooters are parked on her front porch. Her golden retriever, Dakota, scampered about, a slobbery tennis ball in its mouth.
If her social life is centered anywhere, it is here, in the house she shares with her children Madeleine, 13, Beckett, 11, and Bridget, 9; an assemblage of pets (three dogs, a guinea pig, a rabbit, two gerbils and a hamster); and a grandmotherly housekeeper, Olinda, whom she “sort of inherited” from Mrs. Graham. It is the scene of countless family dinners with her tight circle of friends, including Ms. Elkin, whom she met at Oxford.
Ms. Weymouth is proud of her culinary skills, another break from family tradition. “My mother doesn’t cook, my grandmother didn’t cook,” she said. “Her kids were raised by servants. They would joke about Sunday night dinner. It was the only night she would cook, and apparently it was just horrendous, like scrambled eggs and Campbell’s soup.”
On this afternoon, she had left work early to prepare yellow gazpacho, swordfish kebabs with bacon and cherry tomatoes, and strawberry shortcake for 10 friends and colleagues, including the Post foreign editor, who had returned from Afghanistan. Her daughter Bridget wandered in nibbling a piece of bacon.
Ms. Weymouth frowned (“I need that for dinner!” she said), but it was a mock frown, a precious moment of normalcy. In April 2011, when Bridget was just shy of her seventh birthday, she fell off a pony, mangling her left arm. She spent 28 days undergoing a dozen operations at Children’s Hospital here (and later two more in New York). Ms. Weymouth moved in, conducting business meetings from the child’s bedside.
“She was dealing with doctors and surgeons and a child who was in a lot of pain,” said Kevin Sullivan, a Post reporter and close friend. “But it wasn’t like she flushed her BlackBerry down the toilet. It’s not one of those jobs where you can say, ‘I’ll be gone a couple of weeks.’ ”
Moving to Washington to join the family business, Ms. Weymouth said, was never in her “grand plan.” Dowdy D.C. seems a world away from her childhood in Manhattan, where she attended the all-girls Brearley School and danced the “Nutcracker” while studying, quite seriously, with the School of American Ballet.
Her father, Yann Weymouth, a noted architect (and brother of bassist Tina Weymouth, a founder of the Talking Heads) and mother divorced when Ms. Weymouth and her younger sister Pamela were little. The girls were raised in their mother’s orbit on the Upper East Side, in the swirl of New York’s literary circles.
It was a childhood spent going out to restaurants (“Grandma disapproved,” Ms. Weymouth said) and drinking Cokes at Elaine’s. They tagged along on Lally’s reporting trips — “We got to have dinner at the Club d’Alep and meet some of the Syrian aristocracy” — discussed fashion with the Vogue editor Diana Vreeland and politics with Alexander Cockburn, the left-wing British journalist and, for a time, Mrs. Weymouth’s live-in boyfriend.
“It was rarefied,” said Diane Paulus, the Broadway director (“Hair,” “Pippin”), a close friend since the third grade. “We were like 8- or 9- or 10-years-old, and there were big grown-up dinner parties and each child would give toasts. Lally was very social, very fashionable, very chic and very vocal in her politics. There were always political discussions, and she expected the children to keep up.”
But at Harvard, and later Oxford, where the future publisher briefly pursued a master’s degree in literature — “My mother told me I had to go to graduate school,” Ms. Weymouth explained — and Stanford Law, she rarely let on who she was.
At Oxford, she drank beer, rowed crew and went through a black leather phase — “She scared me, she was so cool,” Ms. Elkin said — which turned almost comical on a trip to Israel. During a stopover in Paris to see Mr. Weymouth, who was helping I. M. Pei design the glass pyramid at the Louvre, Ms. Weymouth produced a lengthy itinerary, drafted by her mother, including lunch at the Knesset with Benjamin Netanyahu and dinner at the apartment of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin.
“So the security people are looking at her, with her black eyeliner and her leather jacket and these black earrings, and they’re like, ‘Who are you?’ ” Ms. Elkin said. “And I’m looking at her and saying: ‘Yeah, who are you? And why did you only tell me to bring one dress?’ ”
Ms. Weymouth loved the West Coast and hoped to stay there after law school. Her mother had other ideas. “I thought it was a nice place for a weekend,” Mrs. Weymouth said in an interview, “not for a life.”
Instead, she took a job as a litigator with Williams & Connolly, The Post’s law firm. Nicole Chapman, her Harvard roommate, said she wanted to “establish herself as Katharine Weymouth,” and eventually have children, becoming a “more there mother” than her own had been.
To herald the arrival of her oldest grandchild, Mrs. Graham invited Washington’s young up-and-comers to a dinner party. George Stephanopoulos, then with the Clinton administration, was there. Mr. Jordan sent his niece, Carolyn Niles, now a close Weymouth friend. “She really took the time to establish social connections for Katharine,” Ms. Niles said.
If Kay Graham saw her namesake as her heir apparent, she did not say, though it was apparent they were extremely close. Ann Calfas, a Stanford classmate of Ms. Weymouth, recalls the grandmother’s simple delight in driving them to the wedding of a friend. “She was like, ‘Girls, hop in!’ ”
Ms. Weymouth has her own fond memories of Friday night “dates” when Mrs. Graham needed a party escort, and of quiet dinners in the library of the big house on R Street in Georgetown. “We would eat on the TV trays and gossip,” she said, “and I would tell her about my love life and she’d crack up.”
In 1996, The Post put out a call to Williams & Connolly for temporary legal help. Ms. Weymouth put her hand up, and the job became permanent, leading to stints in the online operation (then a distinct subsidiary) and ultimately as vice president for advertising.
Inside the newsroom, one rap on Ms. Weymouth is that unlike her uncle, she has never been a reporter. Over the years, she said, they talked about it, but she didn’t feel qualified. “I just felt like it would be too weird,” she said.
If there is one decision Ms. Weymouth has made that has mystified people who know her well, it was her July 1998 marriage to Richard Scully, a Washington lawyer. The wedding at her mother’s Southampton home, with 470 A-list guests, was a typical Lally extravaganza. Not only did Oscar de la Renta design the dress, a friend said, he was there to zip it up.
The divorce in 2005 was messy. Court records show they fought over their $70,000 country club membership (Mr. Scully, a golfer, testified that Ms. Weymouth “doesn’t really value it”) and their German shepherd, Maxine, among other things. The court awarded both to Ms. Weymouth.
Last year, Mr. Scully was accused of assaulting his girlfriend. The charges were dropped, but Ms. Weymouth went back to court, asserting that he had stalked her through texts and e-mail and engaged in “angry and explosive outbursts” in front of their children. Mr. Scully’s lawyer, Mark E. Schamel, called the allegations “false” and attributed Ms. Weymouth’s assertions to an “opportunistic pleading” filed by her divorce lawyer.
Ms. Weymouth and her tight-knit circle prefer not to discuss it. “The less you say about him, the better,” Lally Weymouth said.
Friends say Ms. Weymouth has become the ultimate hands-on mother (albeit one with “one-and-a-half” nannies, as she describes it), waking up early to make the children a hot breakfast and driving them to school every morning. In a city of nightly parties, she picks and chooses. She is a regular at galas for the Alvin Ailey dance company and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, because Ms. Elkin is on the board.
But at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Ms. Weymouth was nowhere to be seen. She was home hosting a sleepover; it was Bridget’s ninth birthday.
Not long after her grandmother died in 2001, Ms. Weymouth had a dream. In it, they strolled the beach on Martha’s Vineyard, where Mrs. Graham owned a home.
“In my dream, I knew she was dead,” Ms. Weymouth said. “But she said: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry I have to leave you.’ ”
Ms. Weymouth sees no larger meaning in this — “I don’t believe in hoo-ha,” she said — though as she charts the future of her family’s business, she is also immersed in the past. Pictures of her grandmother line the walls of her office, where Mrs. Graham’s memoir, tagged with sticky notes for Ms. Weymouth’s speeches, is on a shelf. For her first day on the job in February 2008, she wore Mrs. Graham’s pearls “for good luck.”
Her ascension generated the predictable buzz in Washington. People speculated about whether there was competition between Ms. Weymouth and her mother, who, the theory goes, remains miffed that her kid brother inherited the throne. (Not true, both women say.)
Ms. Weymouth took the helm just as the bottom was about to fall out of the economy. The newspaper had already gone through several newsroom buyouts, and she told her uncle she would not take the job unless she could integrate the digital and print operations. “Don was hellbent against it, and probably still is,” she said.
Deciding a new editor was needed, she picked Marcus Brauchli, from The Wall Street Journal, the first outsider to edit The Post in four decades. Magazines gushed that she had found her Ben Bradlee, but the relationship soured after news broke that they planned to offer lobbyists the chance to underwrite “intimate and exclusive” dinners, for up to $250,000, with Obama officials and Post journalists in Ms. Weymouth’s home, a seemingly crass version of Kay Graham’s salons.
Ms. Weymouth apologized, but the negative publicity over “Salon-Gate” was brutal. Ms. Niles said it was the first time she had seen her ordinarily unflappable friend cry over work.
Within the Graham family, there is great sensitivity to any suggestion of nepotism. Don Graham, 68, praises his niece as “passionate, hardworking, utterly decent” and also qualified. As to whether she will inherit his job, he ducks the question: “I’m not expecting her to go anyplace.”
One hint, Post tea-leaf readers say, can be found in the company garage. For years Kay Graham drove a car with the low-numbered District license plate No. 149, which once belonged to her father, Eugene Meyer, who bought The Post at a bankruptcy sale in 1933. Now it is on Ms. Weymouth’s 1991 BMW convertible.
In the meantime, things have been looking up. In January, Ms. Weymouth replaced Mr. Brauchli with Martin Baron, a no-nonsense newsman from The Boston Globe (and, previously, The New York Times), who has won praise for sharpening coverage and boosting morale. Reporters at The Post who routinely question whether their publisher “gets what we do,” now wonder if maybe, just maybe, she has found her Ben Bradlee after all.
“She made a brilliant choice,” Ms. Quinn said, “and it’s working.”
Not everyone is so effusive. The Post recently began charging for online access, but the climate for newspapers in general, and The Post in particular, remains tough. Mr. Baron called Ms. Weymouth “a realist,” who “still wants us to do really great journalism,” albeit “within the reality of our economic circumstances.” But he could not rule out further cuts.
The question, inside and outside the newspaper, is whether Ms. Weymouth can ever be the great and beloved publisher her grandmother was. “Certainly the genes are there,” said John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst. “It’s the judgment that has yet to be proved.”
Others seem to have written her off. The Guardian columnist Michael Wolff recently criticized Ms. Weymouth, declaring her “a disaster in a job for which she had, other than her lineage, no qualifications.”
Ms. Weymouth, mindful of her past yet unsentimental about it, seems unconcerned. Her mother “tells me she is proud of me,” she said, and “if I’m not doing a good job, as much as Don loves me, he will fire me.” Even her grandmother, she said, grew into greatness, making mistakes along the way.
“I don’t feel like my job is to be beloved,” said Ms. Weymouth, the woman who might be known as the working-mother publisher, with her children at play and her dogs at her feet. “I certainly hope to be a great publisher, and if people want to love me, too, that’s even better.”