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Thread: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Icon5 The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    After watching The Post (2017), produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, one makes obvious connections between the Nixon White House and that of Donald Trump, given the casual and repeated attacks on the press by the latter administration (mirroring Nixon's view that the press was the enemy). However, the movie stresses how the Pentagon Papers, released to the public in 1971 by military analyst and whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, contained damning information about the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, not just Nixon, in the gradual buildup of US involvement in the Vietnam War and lies that were sold to Congress and the American people about it. Watching the film, I couldn't help but recall Ellsberg's more recent public support for other whistle-blowers, namely Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, both of whom released unflattering information to the public about the Bush and Obama administrations. In Manning's case it was basically a gigantic trove of information that included US military misconduct overseas, such as the killing of journalists in Iraq during the Bush years, while Snowden's leaks revealed the manner in which the NSA, in its mass surveillance programs, was collecting huge amounts of private data on average citizens.

    While Obama officially ended US involvement in the War in Iraq (based on false pretenses sold to the American public about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction), Obama nevertheless continued and even heightened Bush's war in Afghanistan. While the Patriot Act was signed into law under Bush (in the fallout of hysteria over the terrorist attacks of 9/11), it was furthered under Obama's watch, who again strengthened the Bush-era mass surveillance programs. While Ellsberg was acquitted of all charges of theft and conspiracy in 1973, thanks to prosecutors involved in the Watergate scandal discovering that Nixon's "White House Plumbers" used unlawful means to try to discredit Ellsberg and form a case against him, the same result didn't occur for Manning and Snowden. Manning was tried and imprisoned under the same Espionage Act of 1917 that was used against Ellsberg, his sentence commuted by Obama during his last year in office (Manning is now running as a Democratic state senator for Maryland). Snowden, as most of you are aware (unless you've been hiding under a rock the past few years), eventually fled to Putin's Russia after his US passport was revoked while traveling overseas to Hong Kong.

    While actor Tom Hanks and film critics have acknowledged the film's obvious association with Trump, what about Bush and Obama? The movie seemed to generally suggest this about not trusting the institution of the presidency in general, by listing some of the actions committed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson that happened well before Nixon took office. The film underscored the idea that journalists cannot be chummy friends with those in power, because it is their job to inform the American public about the shady dealings, if any, of those in positions of high authority. For those of you who've seen the movie, what do you think?

    I'm not sure if there's a way to pigeonhole presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush senior, and Clinton into this, but I'm sure you guys can find a way. You're also welcome to do so, but I think, aside from Trump, Bush junior and Obama are more immediately relevant.

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    Inkie's Avatar Mayonnaise
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    Default Re: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    For those of you who've seen the movie, what do you think?
    Well in that case, you're not asking me

    Either way though, it seems like this can be framed in terms of the general, worldwide decline in freedom of the press, and the increasing pervasiveness of the state of exception, of which a prime example is the Patriot Act. Sounds good if the movie highlights how, regardless of which party or policies leaders are involved with, they all seem to add a layer onto the power possessed by government and its intelligence agencies. Or at least, powers gained in times of warfare never seem to be let go of with the return of peace, though one could say that no longer exists any more. Good timing for the movie's release given the low ebb of public confidence in the media as a whole.


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    Default Re: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    While actor Tom Hanks and film critics have acknowledged the film's obvious association with Trump, what about Bush and Obama? The movie seemed to generally suggest this about not trusting the institution of the presidency in general, by listing some of the actions committed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson that happened well before Nixon took office. The film underscored the idea that journalists cannot be chummy friends with those in power, because it is their job to inform the American public about the shady dealings, if any, of those in positions of high authority. For those of you who've seen the movie, what do you think?
    I dont think the film was aiming at any presidency in particular, but rather high lining the importance of the press. Of the free press. As one of the pillars of Democratic society. The Modern Democracy inst only about the electoral procedure it is also about all of its institutions ( rule of law, Legislature institutions, Separation of powers etc)

    Obvious this has implications towards the current situation with Trump and the whole "fake news crap" we are seen as you well put it. But i dont think is an issue we could only see in the Trump era. True Journalism has been dying in the past decades. People this days rather take the news that they want to hear from unfiltered sources then proper journalism.
    It has been losing credit in the eyes of public. In part by its own fault, and in a good part due to the use and abuse of new technologies regarding the treatment of information.
    Mediated information is key to contextualize any news.

    So in my mind while this film could be see as a jab at various Presidencies, and certainly there is a critique there, how high power tends to control, and format information, i think that only highlights the Importance of the press in a Democratic society, as it was with the Nixon Scandals back then

    And we have been losing that, in this new age of Information we live in.
    ( i dont think it is a US exclusive either)

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    John Doe's Avatar Vicarius
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    Default Re: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    The movie was about the Washington Post defining moment that led it to become a major national newspaper, when it became truly and successfully part of the Fourth Estate.

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Doe View Post
    The movie was about the Washington Post defining moment that led it to become a major national newspaper, when it became truly and successfully part of the Fourth Estate.
    No one's refuting that, but this simply ignores the major theme of the movie about the conflict between the free press and the federal government, particularly the executive branch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knight of Heaven View Post
    I dont think the film was aiming at any presidency in particular, but rather high lining the importance of the press. Of the free press. As one of the pillars of Democratic society. The Modern Democracy inst only about the electoral procedure it is also about all of its institutions ( rule of law, Legislature institutions, Separation of powers etc)

    Obvious this has implications towards the current situation with Trump and the whole "fake news crap" we are seen as you well put it. But i dont think is an issue we could only see in the Trump era. True Journalism has been dying in the past decades. People this days rather take the news that they want to hear from unfiltered sources then proper journalism.
    It has been losing credit in the eyes of public. In part by its own fault, and in a good part due to the use and abuse of new technologies regarding the treatment of information.
    Mediated information is key to contextualize any news.

    So in my mind while this film could be see as a jab at various Presidencies, and certainly there is a critique there, how high power tends to control, and format information, i think that only highlights the Importance of the press in a Democratic society, as it was with the Nixon Scandals back then

    And we have been losing that, in this new age of Information we live in.
    ( i dont think it is a US exclusive either)
    Right. The film's message was universal enough to be applied to just about any period of time and country in the Modern era. However, it was very pointed towards the role of the presidency in the US and how the chief executive can attempt to use the courts and judicial institutions to get what he wants, even if that means trampling on the rights of the free press and the First Amendment. This doesn't exactly apply to every presidency, but certain ones in particular. The leaking of classified information in a time of war is obviously not restricted to the Nixon era, but it's far more relevant in an immediately post-Obama USA than it would have been if the movie came out in the middle of Bill Clinton's presidency. Period films like this don't just have something to say about the time in which they are set; they also provide a deep reflection of the time period in which they were released and I think audiences are expected to make these connections, be it with Bush, Obama, or Trump. Obviously people living in, say, Brazil, could find many ways in which they could relate to the film given their own circumstances and presidential scandals, but Spielberg and the other filmmakers would have had recent American presidents in mind first and foremost. It was also crafted in such a way that it could appeal to younger audiences who did not live through the Nixon years and were born way afterwards (like me, for instance), but still could relate to the tensions and problems presented in the plot as something that could have happened in the time they were growing up or becoming adults during the past 20 years.

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    Aexodus's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: The Post (2017) by Steven Spielberg is obviously about Nixon and loosely about Trump, but is it also a big middle finger to Bush and Obama?

    I thought it was a great film, the subtle commentary on current events was very much tangible.

    It just makes you wonder what they’re still hiding now, what with the pentagon papers in the film, and other incidences like the Edward Snowden whistleblower who revealed mass surveillance.

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