Commentary: The Post raises as many questions as it answers

From Issue 5

The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, was thought-provoking, and it may have made viewers question Spielberg’s agenda by the direction of this movie. It is a story about top secret federal documents, containing numerous lise about the Vietnam War that fall into the hands of the Washington Post. The main characters are Katharine Graham, the owner of the Post, and Ben Bradlee, the chief editor of the Post. Graham, played by Meryl Streep, and Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, must decide whether to risk a federal lawsuit and publish the Pentagon Papers, maintaining the freedom of their First Amendment rights, or to play it safe by not publishing the documents, essentially letting the government win. This movie may leave viewers asking themselves if the mainstream media we have today is actually willing to do whatever it takes to tell the public the truth.

Spielberg’s most obvious message in the film is the importance of the First Amendment right, freedom of the press, and if the viewer digs deeper into the message, it is clear that Spielberg is glorifying the current mainstream media by showcasing the media’s “noble past.” It is no coincidence that this movie was made during this time period in our country when tension exists between the press and the presidential office. Spielberg told The Guardian, “The level of urgency to make the movie was because of the current climate of this administration, bombarding the press and labeling the truth as fake if it suited them.”

However, what Spielberg seems to be forgetting is that in many cases the mainstream media has given the American people false information. For example, CNN’s story about the Comey Testimony, run on June 6, along with a story that ran later that month about Anthony Scaramucci, contained false information. Along with CNN and many other mainstream media outlets, the Washington Post has also published fake news, such as its claim that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms.     

The second thing that Spielberg does in this film is portray Katharine Graham as one who does not care what friend she might be upsetting as long as the full truth is told in her newspaper. In the movie, it was made clear several times that Graham would be hurting several of her friends by publishing the Pentagon Papers. Graham even wrote in her autobiography Personal History, “I don’t believe that who I was or wasn’t friends with interfered with our reporting at any of our publications.” However, a correspondent for Newsweek magazine witnessed censorship by the Post on one of his stories because of a close relation between senior national security figures and Post-Newsweek executives. This correspondent wrote a story about the CIA funneling anti-Sandinista money through Nicaragua’s Catholic Church, but his story was watered down so that Graham could still publish it without upsetting Henry Kissinger, former United States Secretary of State, who happened to be Graham’s house guest for the weekend.