When our 45th President of the United States was elected my heart sunk for a variety of reasons. Mostly, I was appalled that the country I was born in and love with all my heart preferred someone who is a proven liar, has no respect for women, the media or the due process of governing the country over electing its first female leader unequivocally left me stunned.
The Post reminded me that journalistic integrity and female equality matter no matter what decade we live in.
The Pentagon Papers were highly classified documents which detailed U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 (well before the Vietnam War) to 1967. These files, compiled by the Department of Defense, also revealed secret American bombing raids in Cambodia and Laos.
This changed in 1971, when activist Daniel Ellsberg began leaking The Pentagon Papers to the press. The Times was the first outlet to make the documents public, publishing a 7,000-word excerpt on the front page. What did Nixon have to say about all this? He responded with a court order which barred the Times from publishing any more classified information. Sound familiar?
That’s where the Post came in. Kate Graham, who took over as publisher of The Washington Post, hired now legendary publisher Ben Bradlee and gave him and his staff free rein to publish the papers, as well as the details of the Watergate break-in a few years later resulting in the downfall of the Nixon Administration. (The Pentagon Papers were fully declassified in 2011).
When Ben Bradlee (perfectly portrayed by Oscar winner Tom Hanks)says, “The way they lied, those days have to be over.” One can’t help but be reminded of how The Pentagon Papers story has so many parallels to today, with our current presidential administration warning of “fake news” and calling journalists “the enemy of the American people.”
If anyone were to reminded America about the gender inequality issues that dogged Hillary Rodham-Clinton it would be Steven Spielberg. Kate Graham faced rampant sexism as the Post‘s first female publisher. At one point she even recalls a Samuel Johnson quote, “A woman preaching is like a dog walking on its hind legs. It’s not done well and you’re surprised to see it done at all.” She showed them and we get to see it through the acting brilliance of Meryl Streep.
As wonderful as all the performances are by a stellar cast led by Streep, Tom Hanks and Bradley Whitford, the star of this film is The Washington Post, passive aggressive gender prejudice and freedom of the press. Let’s face it. If it weren’t for the Ben Bradlee and Kate Graham, I might not be writing this blog and living in a country that didn’t celebrate the right to say what I want.
Even in the blogging and film critic world woman are looked at as outsiders and not taken very seriously. Thanks to Bradley, Graham, The Washington Post and me…that might actually change someday soon!
The Post, produced by 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, hit theaters on December 22nd and trust me…it will remind you that some thing in history should never be repeated.