Have you seen “The Post”? If not, please go as soon as you can. Encourage everyone you know to go. Find younger people and tell them they must go or they will be audited by the IRS. (It might work.)
Why is this movie so important?
Because nothing is more important than the truth, and nothing has come under more attack in the last year. The passion and convictions of those who dedicate their lives to journalism are vital to our freedom. Freedom of the press has been a fundamental pillar of the American society since its very beginning. The founding fathers knew it. The framers of the Constitution made sure it was included. Men and women have died over our rights to know what is really going on in our government.
It is in our DNA. It is who we are. And anyone—ANYONE—who does not understand this has no business holding public office.
But alas, many people chose reality TV instead, and that’s a mess that will take a few elections to clean up.
Meanwhile, consider the late Ben Bradlee, a great journalist and former executive editor of The Washington Post. He’s a central figure in The Post, which revolves around the publishing of The Pentagon Papers, when our government was lying to us about The Vietnam War. He also was a central figure in the Watergate scandal, when our government was lying to us about just about everything. I can only imagine what he would say if he were alive today.
Or Edward R. Murrow of CBS, who had the courage and stamina to continue to shine the light on Joseph McCarthy and his bag of lies…lies which destroyed the careers and lives of so many innocent people. People who actually had read the Constitution.
Imagine them today, having to read and hear what spews from the government…having to be insulted on a regular basis…having their questions dismissed or answered with a sneer…it staggers the mind.
I’m a baby boomer and I studied journalism in college, from at least a few teachers who were former newspapermen. They took a no-nonsense approach to the sacred nature of news. The tenets of journalism. (Yes, there really are tenets of journalism, though these days entire networks seem unaware of this.) My teachers taught us how to ask questions, write a news story, edit wire copy, and lay out pages. It was hard, but it was also rewarding and even fun (at least to me) because you got the sense of how important it was to get the facts—and the story—right.
You understood that if you worked in journalism, you had an obligation to the truth, to the audience, and to the greats who had gone before you.
We did all this on typewriters (non-correcting typewriters). One of my professors enjoyed giving us all the details of a story and then leaving the room, giving us about 15 minutes to write it. Then, just as the class was almost over, he would reappear and update the facts by changing a major detail, which of course meant you ripped the paper out of the typewriter and started rewriting as fast as you could to beat the bell. Many grumbled; some just dropped the class. I loved it. He knew what he was doing. Another professor would read my story and if it didn’t measure up to his standards, he’d rip it down the middle and hand it back to me, without a word. I learned how to write better first drafts.
I think of the Mary Tyler Moore episode when Mary and Rhoda have been sitting up late updating the station’s obituaries. They get punchy and write a funny obit for a local citizen who is over 100. Unfortunately, the next day that person actually dies and their fake obit is read on the air. Mary is horrified, and crushed when her boss Lou suspends her. He says simply, “Mary, the news is sacred.”
I agree. It’s why it’s hard for me to watch what is happening these days. Or see how social media posts a half-truth which is repeated so often that it starts being quoted as a news story.
Whatever happened to three sources on a story before publication?
And frankly, whatever happened to questioning things…taking a moment to realize something doesn’t smell right with what you just read on Twitter or Facebook…actually reading more than one news source to get the information…and recognizing the difference between an article and an editorial?
I have to believe there are enough people out there who value the truth, and who can recognize it. Remember, everyone thought the emperor looked great in his new clothes. Except for one honest boy.
And he saw the naked truth.
“You never monkey with the truth.”