In the first amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors,” said Judge Hugo Black in his announcement of the Supreme Court ruling in the case regarding the publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
“The Post” is a movie that was released on Jan. 12, 2018 and was directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based off the event in American history when the First Amendment and what it stands for was challenged; this controversial event was the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. These papers, at the time, were highly classified and top-secret due to the fact that the government had been lying to the U.S. citizens about the happenings of the Vietnam War. In short, it was revealed to the public that the U.S. was struggling to win the war and that extreme, violent actions were being taken, causing more and more U.S. soldiers to die.
The movie brings the audience back to a traditional newsroom of the 1970s. Not only is the technology significantly different, but so is the atmosphere and the passion of the journalists. The movie is based on the actions the staff of the Washington Post decided to take when a source gave them the Pentagon Papers.
Prior to The Washington Post receiving the papers, The New York Times released a story first. The repercussions of publishing these papers landed The New York Times in court with the government trying to censor what could and could not be published. Therefore, when it was The Post’s turn to expose the information the government had been hiding, it was a serious risk they decided to take, knowing that it could be detrimental, if not fatal, to the existence of the paper.
Fully understanding the risks, the reporters and owner of the The Post decided to publish the papers anyway. It was so inspiring to watch as they hit the ground running, having less than 24 hours to pull this article together. They had to sort through thousands of papers, talk to sources, write the article and get it to the publisher. Also, seeing the machines they had to use to publish can make one very grateful for modern-day technology!
The two main characters in this movie were portrayed by an iconic actor and actress. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Post at the time. He had to fight tooth and nail to get others to follow him and support him in publishing this story. Then there is Meryl Streep who plays Katherine Graham, the owner of the newspaper and the first female publisher of a large, established newspaper.
Throughout the movie, Graham grows into a strong female leader. Her actions and decisions are often questioned throughout the movie, but she finally stands up for herself when other staff members told her she could not make the decision to publish or not because they did not believe a woman could handle making a decision of this magnitude. She certainly proved everyone wrong and has become a role model for women of all ages.
This movie may be about a historical event, but it also brings so much meaning to today’s society. Many reviewed it as inspirational, bringing to the forefront the true meaning of journalism and the truth behind news when so much controversy is surrounding what is real and what is “fake” news today. The New York Times calls it “. . . a ticktock thriller about the freedom of the press, the White House’s war on that constitutional right and the woman who defended freedom.”
Overall, “The Post” has made $136 million in the box office so far and received 88 percent from Rotten Tomatoes. Both the movie and the actors/actresses have been nominated for many awards thus far, including “Best Motion Picture” at the Golden Globes. Meryl Streep is nominated for “Best Actress” and the movie itself is up for “Best Picture” at the 2018 Oscars.
The events of history may indeed give away the ending to this movie, but it is the happy and successful ending this movie and historical event had that ensured that the first amendment was followed, and that citizens kept their right of knowing the truth. If you are someone who is in need of some inspiration or simply a historical, informational, while also entertaining movie, then “The Post” is one that should definitely be seen.
Mackenzie Haverdink is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. ✉ MH850486@wcupa.edu.