Given the current circumstances surrounding our federal government, I strongly recommend that you make the time to see Steven Spielberg’s new movie: “The Post.”
“The Post” details the true story of the Washington Post’s struggle to publish the “Pentagon Papers”; a 7,000 page classified government analysis of the Vietnam War. A bombshell report that documented how the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations lied about the prospects of victory knowing full well that defeat was inevitable. Fearful that a military defeat would be an international embarrassment for the country, not to mention a stain on their individual legacies; these president’s perpetrated a lie on the American people while continuing to send hundreds of thousands of troops into harms way to fight a war they knew they could not win.
Tom Hanks plays publisher Ben Bradlee, the papers executive editor who fought with the Nixon administration over the right to publish the classified report. A man who realizes that his close personal friend , Jack Kennedy, lie to him and lied to the country.
Meryl Streep plays the paper’s owner Katherine Graham; a women in a man’s world forced to make a historic decision that could destroy her paper and send her to jail. She was lied to by a close family friend; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. The man who happened to be the primary architect of the lie.
The movie tells the tale of extraordinary efforts on the part of the Nixon administration to stop the paper from publishing the inconvenient truth. An effort that led to a historic Supreme Court decision and Nixon’s eventual resignation.
The release of this film comes fittingly at a time when institutions which form the cornerstone of our democracy are under attack by the executive branch. Most notably the free press and the first amendment. President Donald Trump has made it his mission to denigrate and eviscerate any reporter or news article that paints him in an unfavorable light. His efforts to label the press as “dishonest” and “fake news” are not only false but they stand in violation of the constitution and pose a very real threat to our democracy. They are reminiscent of anarchists who use such misinformation to control the masses and secure power.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-Az.) recently took to the floor of the senate to publically condemn Trump’s attacks on the free press. Flake called Trump’s labeling the press “fake news” and “enemies of the people,” “shameful” and “reminiscent of words used by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.” Flake went on to describe the free press as “the despot’s enemy and the guardian of our democracy.”
Flake got it right. Trump’s denigration of the press is dangerous.
We have seen this movie before. 58,000 Americans died and tens of thousands were injured for the sake of a lie.
Go and see “The Post.” Don’t let it happen again.