The movie "The Post" garnered Oscar nominations this week for Best Picture and Best Actress, reinforcing the movie's narrative of journalists as heroic figures who bravely challenge the government, expose wrongdoing, and report the truth.
I saw the film last weekend and enjoyed it. From the point of view of movie craftsmanship, it's hard to go wrong with the talent combination of Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and John Williams. I particularly loved the pressroom scene and the sound of the newspapers coming off the press, which brought back some fond personal memories from my college days.
The point that gets missed sometimes, though, is that not every war is Vietnam, not every Washington scandal is Watergate, not every editor is Ben Bradlee, and not every leaked classified government document is the Pentagon Papers. A movie I'd like to see is one about all the damage that has been caused to individual reputations, to the credibility of journalism, to trust in our institutions, and to America as a whole by journalists trying to force events into the Pentagon Papers-Watergate-Washington Post narrative in cases when the actual true narrative is something quite different. When it comes to the error of "fighting the last war," journalists are right up there with generals.