Review: Freedom of the press means the freedom to criticize and oppose.

I saw The Post last weekend, and I’m glad I did, though it wasn’t my choice.

It is a (sadly) timely film, depicting the (true) story of how the news exposed (through the Pentagon Papers) the United States government’s thirty-year conspiracy to dupe the nation into the Vietnam War.

It is a slow burn of a movie, taking its time to let us get to know the characters, personalities, and stakes involved.  At times – especially in the middle third of the movie – it can almost get too slow and a bit too non-linear; it doesn’t feel like a polished story at times.

But that’s really the point.

This slow build gives us a chance to see that this is not just some preachy morality tale, but a continual – and needed – ongoing struggle to keep power in check.

In the words of Justice Black – and quoted in the film – from his opinion in  New York Times Co. v. United States:

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy.

The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.

The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

Make some time to go check out The Post in theaters.

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