Tonight I enjoyed watching “The Post,” a thoroughly riveting movie about the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 by the now deceased Katherine Graham, then publisher of The Washington Post, and Ben Bradlee, its editor.
In 1971, I was a high school senior in a rural town in Indiana and the rice paddies of Vietnam were very remote to my thinking at the time. I was more stressed about affording college than I was about a war that made little dent in the populace among which I lived.
My cognizance would shift a bit when I briefly fell for a Vietnam vet with whom I rode back and forth to the IU-Purdue campus in Fort Wayne. But the war was not something he cared to discuss, and I had stars in my eyes and a willingness to hear whatever he wished on whatever subject he cared to talk about.
When I ended up joining the Navy for the G.I. Bill so I could afford college, Vietnam was still not a part of my every day reality. For the most part I served as admin support at the school which comprised the first training phase for nuclear reactor operators, both officer and enlisted. Most of these men were submariners, and many had not yet seen duty of any sort.
Once again I had stars in my eyes for someone, and my romantic soul defined my days far more than world events or even military life. The latter was a means to an end to me, although I am proud to have served my country while also securing my college future.
It was that college life that took me into journalism and finally into the larger world of politics and issues ranging from crop yield to scholastic achievement among students to the place of nuclear power as an energy source.
There are moments I regret ever leaving that world for a better paying P.R. job. But I was a single mother with a child to support. And I didn’t believe in my talents enough to think I could make it to the New York Times.
So my gaze turned back more toward the personal in life and the professional of the companies for which I worked. The larger discourse was lost to me again.
Then came Donald Trump. If he can be credited with anything, it is for snapping those of us lulled into every day stupor out of it and into the reality of how completely ill-equipped this man was (is) to lead this country for every possible reason.
He is a rubber stamp for the GOP agenda. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is the only reason he is tolerated by the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells of the world.
“The Post” is a reminder that the freedom of the press is a powerful tool to hold Trump accountable in his Presidency. That is why -except for the state endorsed Fox News- he fights so relentlessly against the press. He of all people knows the power of the media to blow down his house of cards and expose it for the hollowness it is.
So keep it up, both professional and citizen journalists! And remember these words from Associate Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black quoted in the movie on the view held by the Founding Fathers: “The Press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”