By Richard A. Epstein
It may be somewhat uncharitable to criticize “The Post,” the new movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Streep plays the somewhat awkward Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post, and Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, her seasoned executive editor. The film scores 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and received a rave review from Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post because “it’s a purposefully rousing homage to the ideals of journalistic independence, governmental accountability and gender equality.” Yet her word “purposefully” carries with it the tacit admission that movies such as “The Post” may take liberties with history and law in order to celebrate how the forces of good triumph over those of evil.
The movie concerns the paper’s choice in 1971, following a similar decision by The New York Times days earlier, to publish the Pentagon Papers. The 47-volume work—on…
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