THE POST is the origin story that gives teeth to journalism
The Post tells a few stories to bring into focus the nonsense of the times on two fronts: emerging women’s roles in business and the potential meddling of the government in the free press.
In the early 1970s, The Washington Post was a regional newspaper, focusing on the daily happenings of the Beltway and surrounding areas. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) assumed the helm of the Washington Post from her husband, who had committed suicide. She’s grown up around the newspaper business all of her life but never had a hand in running it. Instead, she depends on trusted advisers (Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford) to make the hard decisions and keep the company profitable. On the eve of the Post going public on the American Stock Exchange, a former state department worker begins sending classified reports blowing apart the Vietnam War news fed to the people spread across four presidential administrations. It sets the stage for a showdown, not only between Graham and her investors, but also The Post and the United States Government.
The White House wants it to shut down and even manages to yank the New York Times articles, but the Washington Post has another angle and a complete unwillingness to step aside and let a corrupt Nixon Administration dictate what can and cannot be news.
Graham, while wealthy and connected to most of those presidents, is still a woman in a male-dominated world. The Post was her father’s company and now it is solely hers, but the voice she’s given is ceremonial at best. Fritz Beebe (Tracy Letts) boosts her voice through his, and Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford) tries to squelch it. Parsons is more concerned about the investors and maintaining his stock price and seat on the Board of Directors. Tom Hanks plays “pirate editor” Ben Bradlee, the executive editor to The Washington Post who believes the newspaper has the right and the duty to print the Pentagon Papers. Kay is caught in the middle. Does she keep her father’s men happy by going along and avoiding the wrath of the US government or does she do right by the newspaper and print the truth with the knowledge that she could become a felon?
The Post is stacked with strong performances, and much like 2015’s Spotlight, shows the lengths journalists will go to ensuring the public stays rightly informed, even in the face of shut down and ridicule. OF COURSE, it couldn’t more timely with the current political climate, proving yet again, that those who do not understand history, are doomed to repeat it.
At the end of the day, this movie is a lot of drama, a lot of information, and a lot of cheering for the underdog.
The Post is rated R for swears, people dying badly during the Vietnam War, and Meryl Streep looking uncharacteristically fragile.