With a legal and Washington background, Graham began life in journalism at the top in 1965, as the first lawyer hired to be The Times’s Supreme Court correspondent, a job most reporters today would consider the climax of a career. In an era of racial tension and political transition, Graham brought solid legal expertise and experience in government to the task.
Blending news, analysis and background on daily deadlines, he detailed cases arising from civil rights murders in the South, free press versus privacy issues, questions over prayer in public schools and, in 1971, the Nixon administration’s losing fight to suppress publication by The Times and The Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, the secret Defense Department history of the government’s duplicity in Vietnam.
In 1972, he joined CBS as the network’s law correspondent. Over 15 years, he became a familiar face to Americans, pioneering coverage of Supreme Court rulings for the transitory attention of television viewers. While with CBS, he reported on the Watergate scandal; the resignation of former President Richard M. Nixon; and the legal struggles over abortion rights, racial preferences in college admissions and protections for criminal defendants.