If you have not been aware of the media’s crucial role over the last year, you haven’t been paying attention–in particular, the two giants of journalism–the New York Times and the Washington Post. This movie outlines how the Post rose to its present eminence. (npr.com) The Times was always the pinnacle and the Post was–as they put it in the film–a local paper. That was was before Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst working at the Rand Corporation, released classified documents in 1969 to the Times, which published them.
President Richard Nixon then took out an injunction against the Times, prohibiting the paper from continuing to publish. At this point, in a moment made memorable in the film with the line, “RUN,” the Post stepped in and published the same documents, followed by numerous other newspapers nationwide.
The story of how Katherine Graham, owner of the Post, and hitherto regarded only as the mild, well-conducted widow of Philip Graham, who knew everyone in Washington and was very friendly with Robert McNamara, found the courage to print, is fascinating and inspiring.
Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the heroic executive editor of the Post, who leads the paper to fame and stature alongside its great competitor, the Times. This role was previously filled unforgettably by Jason Robards in “All the President’s Men,” a hard act to follow, but Hanks gives a determined, growly performance that does the job. Meryl Streep slowly grows into the powerful woman who faces gender discrimination to become a great publisher and pioneer for women journalists.
The Pentagon Papers and the courage of the newspapers which published them unquestionably saved the lives of many young men and women who would otherwise have died in Vietnam. (deadline.com) Today’s courageous journalists and media will be found one day, I am convinced, to have helped save our country from authoritarianism just as clearly. A word about Stephen Spielberg in this and other important films; he will have played a vital role in that unmasking.
Question: would today’s Supreme Court have ruled in favor of freedom of the press?
This film deserves to be classed with my other journalism favorites including “All the President’s Men,” “Good Night and Good Luck” and “Spotlight.”
Oh, and by the way, today is the day to support your newspapers: get a subscription.