The Post : before Deep Throat.

Deep Throat.. Woodward and Bernstein.. Watergate…
Words that hung as heavy as cigarette smoke in old newsrooms. Largely thanks to the 1976 masterwork All the President’s Men.

So can Hanks and Streep in Spielberg’s Oscar nominated The Post  have the same impact on today’s newshounds? Should this be on the reporter curriculum?

Let’s go back to the 70s first…  Aspiring reporters imagined being Woodward and Bernstein.
Let’s be honest, writing wedding reports on the Crawley Observer was a long long way from the Washington Post duo who exposed the Watergate scandal in 1972. But we could dream.
So will the current generation want to be “publish and be jailed” editor Ben Bradlee or Better Call Saul’s Bob OdenKirk as hard bitten hack Ben Bagdikian.
The Post  is the classic true story of journalists taking on powerful politicians – but hold the front page (sorry!).  It’s also very much about journalists taking on wealthy newspaper owners and bean counters…  a world so many of us in journalism and factual TV know. Tho’ perhaps not on this scale.
The money people want to spike the story of the decade, in case it affects share prices. The hacks want to publish and possibly be imprisoned.
It’s played out as prequel to All The President’s Men – but for me just doesn’t have the thrill.
The film’s shot in a style (and apparently on 35mm film) which gives it very 1970s feel (for those of us who remember then).  And certainly there’s convincing acting as always from Tom and Meryl*.
And there’s a creative stylised stalker-cam Nixon raging on the phone in the Whitehouse.
Overall, despite what it says on the side of my local bus, as a piece if entertainment, it does start a bit slow.: it doesn’t really have any urgency:  and it’s never all that suspenseful.
So, as a cinematic experience… not too impressed. Sorry.
And then…
 “Here’s the thing “ (as they say) :
As I went home from the cinema I DID feel a warm glow.
I’ve never worked on a story as big as that. I’ve never been threatened with jail because of a story.  I don’t see myself as a character to be played by Hanks, or Redford (or even Streep).
But in a simple way, despite the cheese, this film is what WE are all about. Yes a cliche about journalism taking on the big bad world (thankfully they didn’t add in any 21st Century “speak truth to power” or “fake news”  lingo).
But when you get to the bones – it’s what we do.
Tell the story. Get it out there. Roll the presses.
Yes a warm glow.
Phil.
*Lovely line from Liz Hannah who wrote the screenplay. She  referred to “Tom and Meryl” in a BBC Radio 4 interview. Not because she was claiming great familiarity, but simply because if you’re talking about actors… who else could Tom and Meryl refer to. Yeah. Figure she’s right. Not name dropping at all!

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