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20/03/18

Thou shalt not lie. THE POST ( Movie Review )


It's right there in the Bible: explicit. Unambiguous. No asterisks, no modifiers. And yet people—sometimes good people, for what they think are good reasons—lie anyway.

On June 13, 1971, the front page of The New York Times reveals that the United States government has been lying for decades about its involvement in Vietnam. Times Reporter Neil Sheehan unveils systematic deception spanning four presidential administrations—information culled from a secret, 47-volume government study that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

The story hits Washington like an incendiary bomb. Two days later, the Nixon administration tries to douse the fire. It goes to court to stop the Times from publishing and wins a temporary injunction halting the story's publication. Sheehan, for the moment, is silenced.

But during that injunction, the Pengaton Papers—most of them anyway—find their way to the Times' upstart rival, The Washington Post.

That puts Post publisher Kay Graham in something of an ethical pickle.

Kay's been in the newspaper business most of her life. Her father, Eugene, bought the Washington Post when she was just 16. Her husband then ran it for years (before committing suicide). Now she's in charge—the first woman to run a major daily newspaper in the country. She knows journalism; and she appreciates good, fearless reporting.

But Kay's also one of Washington's leading socialites. She crosses party aisles and calls everyone from Kissinger to the Kennedys her friends. Why, one of her besties just happens to be Robert McNamara, the former Secretary of Defense … and the guy who commissioned the Pentagon Papers.

If Kay gives the green light for her paper to publish its own set of stories based on the Pentagon Papers, she risks almost everything she cares about: her friends. Her status. Her paper. And she knows that as soon as Nixon reads the first word of the first story, the government will likely take her to court, too.

But if she doesn't publish, is she abdicating the Post's responsibility to be the so-called Fourth Estate? To hold the country's powers accountable?

Thou shalt not lie, the Bible says. The truth shall set you free, it adds. But in Kay's case, this particular truth just might get her locked up.

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