The true story of the release of the Pentagon Papers and the
journalists from the Washington Post who released the story.
The Post (2017)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer
Starring Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood,
David Cross, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Jesse Plemons, Carrie Coon
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
For the past fifty years, there has been some bad blood between the U.S. government and the American free press. The government, under almost every administration since the Nixon years, has attempted to regulate the press to reflect their version of the facts, instead of the facts themselves. This film depicts one of the biggest security leaks in American history in the form of the Pentagon Papers, a series of documents detailing a decades-spanning cover-up involving the true motives behind the Vietnam War. When the New York Times got hold of this information and published it, they were ordered by the government to cease publishing, the first time that the government had struck down the freedom of the press. In response, the Times' rival, the Washington Post, got their hands on the papers and published the story themselves, effectively becoming the first journalists to defy the American president and tell the truth for the right reasons.
The Post is an excellent retelling of a pivotal moment in modern American history, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks delivering powerhouse performances. The supporting cast, most notably Bob Odenkirk, all shine alongside the two leads, and Spielberg's impeccable direction brings it all together. My only gripe with the film is that it did leave out the scene I was really looking forward to seeing, which is the Supreme Court hearing against the Post. Spielberg opted to instead show just the outcome, but I think showing the case unfold would've made for some good dramatic tension. Regardless, Spielberg's finished product is a great film that really defends the importance of a free press.
It's important that people see this film, especially with the prickly relationship between President Trump and the American press right now. President Nixon attempted to disregard the First Amendment and tell the Washington Post what they could and could not say, and the Supreme Court shut him down because no president has the right to police the truth. The press exists in this country to assure the American people of the facts as they are, not as any elected official says they are. Nixon's paranoia and illegal activity destroyed his presidency and forced him to resign. There's no telling what direction Trump's presidency is going towards, but after watching this film, I think it's a safe assumption that the truth will win out. After all, it always does.