The White House requesting a movie has been a longtime practice in many past administrations - but the fact that the people in this White House want to see this movie is striking.
Movie fans will enjoy seeing Hanks as Bradlee, the iconic news figure who was previously immortalized by Jason Robards in 1976's "All the President's Men", and Streep's performance is meant to underscore a theme of female empowerment (Graham was also the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company). But it is very much about today, and its themes of freedom of the press and speaking truth to power resonate now in the Donald Trump era of so-called "Fake News" just as much, if not more, than they did in the early 1970s.
Meryl Streep does Graham and Tom Hanks Bradlee. Publisher Katharine "Kay" Graham (Meryl Streep) wants this too, despite her personal friendship with McNamara, but she also sees a chance for her family-owned newspaper to get shut down by the feds and ruined financially just when it's offering an IPO. Outraged at the government's lies about the war going swimmingly, former department aide Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) illegally copies the pages.
Bradlee fumes and orders his staff to play catch-up. The big drama involved the Times, not the Post.
The film, adhering to its title, focuses on The Washington Post and not The New York Times, which might seem disrespectful considering the latter paper's larger role in the Pentagon Papers' publication. Seriously, I had goosebumps on my arms watching tied-up bundles of newspapers being tossed onto trucks about to bring Truth to the world. Spielberg has also been applauded for his deft handling of the story.
The story begins just after Graham - with nearly no experience running a newspaper - had hired the now legendary Ben Bradlee as the newspaper's editor. Flash ahead to this past Sunday and it went zero for six at the Golden Globes.
Bradlee is pushing to publish the remainder of these papers so as to take The Post from being a local Daily to a National Daily.
At the time of the Pentagon Papers controversy, the Post had just become a publicly traded company, and Graham anxious that the defiant move, putting the newspaper at odds with the federal government, would give investors the jitters.
"For me, those are credentials for qualification". If she had been, Patricia Neal and Lauren Bacall were the rumored frontrunners for the role, probably because Streep was then just 27 years old. When Nixon calls the New York Times "our enemy" in the movie (which, by the way, is taken from an original audio file recorded at The White House and part of the infamous Nixon-tapes revealed through the Watergate investigation) it immediately pulls one back into the current daily news cycle. But to do so, he'll have to persuade publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) to agree. And more importantly from a storytelling perspective, it's about the evolution of a woman, Graham, into a journalism icon. Those men are represented by a Who's Who of character actors, including Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Michael Stuhlbarg and David Cross.
Oscar victor Meryl Streep is convinced pal Oprah Winfrey is seriously considering a presidential run in 2020.
And while there is an interesting tick tock of will-they-won't-they publish the papers that propels the film forward, at the heart of the story is Graham, an obviously smart and capable woman who is full of doubt, and is doubted by almost everyone around her. It's vital that the rest of America learns them, and quickly. The papers didn't represent one story, but a number of stories.