While these controversial topics may irritate some, Spielberg directs it with grace and doesn't overwhelm his audience by inserting modern context into a moment from the past. It's probably not hard to make such things exciting.
Those who don't know "fake news" from real news, or why journalists have a watchdog role in covering public officials, or why freedom of the press is vital, could learn the answer to all three by watching "The Post". Papers are shuffled and xeroxed. "How many journalists?" and she replies "twenty-five".
At the Golden Globes, the latest Spielberg's opus, however, left the ceremony empty-handed. And it is all completely riveting.
The Post crackles with life and energy.
In the video above, Streep talks about working for the first time with the Forrest Gump and Philadelphia actor.
The Post's message is similar to that of Spotlight, another champion of good journalism and victor of 2015's Best Picture: The media, for all its myriad faults, is still an important bulwark for democracy, serving as a necessary check to those elected to power as well as informing citizens and voters. A minute later, they're laughing together at a joke he makes.
It's the early '70s and Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys, "The Americans") is a US military analyst who has grown angry over what he sees as the discrepancy between the grim, deadly reality of a failing Vietnam War effort and the government's public face of inevitable victory. Yet, it "sent boys to die" - this they did largely to avoid the humiliation of the American defeat. Better known as "The Pentagon Papers", it's a document that laid bare the many years of lies behind the patriotic facade surrounding the Vietnam War. But can they publish?
Paulson is only one of the high-profile TV stars that appear at the margins, as the filmmakers have cast this project to the hilt, including Matthew Rhys as whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and Bob Odenkirk as Bradlee's trusted lieutenant Ben Bagdikian.
In "The Post", the moment comes when the political columnist Meg Greenfield (Carrie Coon) gets word of a Supreme Court decision, concerning a newspaper's right to publish material gleaned from whistleblowers.
Streep had previously told The Washington Post following Sunday night's ceremony: "She launched a rocket tonight". Streep paces herself proficiently to build up to the historic decision, where she is visibly addled, frightened, vulnerable but also self-assured and determined.
Graham, Bradlee and company are also threatened with imprisonment by the Nixon administration but stand up with steely resolve. After all, Graham is always the only woman in the room when business is conducted. (It's pretty astonishing that her battle against entrenched misogyny is only the second most important thing happening in The Post.) Would this double whammy simply be too much for investors to swallow? But "The Post" remains a timely film.
In their respective years, those films were nominated and often won awards.
Like "Spotlight" and "All The President's Men", "The Post" stares at authority and asks "If we don't hold them accountable, who will?"