Five Stars for Us! A Review of Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’

I was just four months old when the Pentagon Papers were published in 1971, but I remember very distinctly the mixed emotions that ran through my mind when I first clapped eyes on that historic edition of the New York Times in my local library. For here was everything I loathed and loved in one incredible revelation! On the one hand, imperialism, war and corruption. On the other, the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate. “Mother,” I said, as she swiped the paper from the hands of a startled pensioner, “Mother, darling – mark this day! For though a dark cloud in the progress of our species, it has about it a silver lining that in future years will be as a beacon to good men and women of the press the world over! Dry your eyes, mother mine. Here, use my handkerchief.” I was a precocious child.

It would be nice, would it not, to rewrite history in a way that made ourselves central to the story, and that made us appear more relevant and prescient and brilliant than we actually are. It would be ludicrous as well, of course, though that doesn’t stop some people doing it, especially those who write for a living. I’ve grumbled before that the “media culpa” following the 2016 US election disguised a deep strain of self-congratulation, as the dead-tree press and major stations affected to glorify themselves with faint praise. (“If only we’d had our game-face on, this tragedy might never have happened!”) Now I must return to the subject, one Steven Spielberg having entered the field with a film that polishes the MSM’s image to a high and self-reflecting shine. The Post is rather good, as it happens; but it’s also very, very bad. [More here.]