Desperate British Conservative anti-Corbyn ‘spy’ smears own goal


This video from Britain says about itself:

JEREMY CORBYN WAS A COMMUNIST SPY!!! PIGS ALSO FLY

20 February 2018

Several outlets have covered a story accusing Jeremy Corbyn of spying in yet another ridiculously bogus story. The man who accuses Corbyn also takes credit for founding Live Aid! Moreover, what were the Tories up to in the 1980’s?

A filthy anti-communist campaign has been mounted by Rupert Murdoch’s the Sun and the Times—along with the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph—claiming that Jeremy Corbyn was a paid informer for the Czech secret service in the 1980s: here.

Rupert Murdoch and British Conservatives are watching so many James Bond movies that they have forgotten all differences between fantasy and reality.

The extreme right American John Birch Society and Republican politician and Mormon church leader Benson also used to say that Republican President of the USA General Eisenhower was a Russian spy.

Jeremy Corbyn was in Derbyshire when ex-Czech spy claims they met in London, leader’s records show. The Labour leader ‘s spokesman branded the former agent’s claims ‘utterly ridiculous’: here.

Jeremy Corbyn demands apology and donation to charity from Tory MP who said he ‘sold British secrets to spies’: here.

Satire: Jeremy ‘Stalin’ Corbyn really does have some explaining to do now it’s clear he gave Czech spies information about Margaret Thatcher’s breakfast. The Conservative strategy for winning back support is to try to convince people the Labour leader supports a regime which he always opposed and which no longer exists, which I for one think is admirable: here.

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Murdoch’s ‘spy’ smearing of British Labour, parody song


This 19 February parody music video from Britain is called Theme song from Greenfingers, a Jeremy Corbyn spy movie.

It is a parody of the theme song Goldfinger of the James Bond film of that name, sung by Shirley Bassey.

It is about the Rupert Murdoch media smearing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn as supposedly involved in spying.

The lyrics are:

Greenfingers
He’s the man, the man with an allotment
An informant
Such green fingers
Beckons you to enter his rented plot
The sneaky Trot

A disgruntled opposition backbench MP
He will sell you state secrets over tea
An Eastern Bloc spy can bring down the nation
With a little help from Agent Greenfingers
Steals the heart of darling Diane Abbott
The sneaky Trot

Jeremy Corbyn urged to sue Tory MP who accused him of selling “British secrets to communist spies”: here.

Anti-Corbyn ‘spying’ smears are a sign of Tory desperation: here.

Steven Spielberg’s film The Post, review


This 27 January 2018 Dutch NOS TV video shows an interview with Steven Spielberg on his new film The Post

I saw this film on 18 February 2018.

The theme of the film is the United States war on Vietnam; more especially, the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Who were the heroes of the resistance against the Vietnam war in the USA? As this film review by David Swanson says, they were the peace demonstrators protesting in their millions, though government violence killed some of them, like at the Jackson State and Kent State universities massacres. However, in the film, anti-war demonstrators are hardly more than extras. Only once, a demonstrator says a few sentences:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!

What that demonstrator says is part of this speech:

That video from the USA is called Mario Savio “The Machine Speech” on The Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964. As the video says, that speech was in 1964 in California, not in 1971 in Washington what the film is about. That Savio speech was not about the Vietnam war, but about the students’ Free Speech Movement for the right to be in solidarity with the civil rights movement of African American people.

Who was the hero of the publication of the Pentagon Papers? It was Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is not a main character in the film, though more than an extra. The film starts with Ellsberg as a government investigator with United States soldiers in a rainforest in Vietnam. Ever since the early 1950s, United States presidents had lied that the Vietnam war was going hunky dory. But Ellsberg sees how a firefight breaks out, and many US soldiers are injured or killed.

On the way back from Vietnam, Ellsberg is on the same plane as Pentagon Secretary Robert McNamara. A McNamara adviser tells his boss the same official lie about winning the war. Then, McNamara asks Ellsberg for his view, as he is the only person present who has actually seen fighting in Vietnam. Ellsberg says the war is not going well, and cannot be won. I think you are right, McNamara says. Then, the plane lands in the USA. Journalists ask: Mr Secretary of Defence, how is the war going? Very good progress on all fronts, McNamara replies. Ellsberg, just out of the plane, hears this lie; and becomes an anti-war activist. He decides that the secret Pentagon Papers, which expose the successive administrations’ untruths, should be published.

The film says the heroes were Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Though these two indeed made the correct decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in spite of threats by the Nixon administration, as this review says, neither Graham nor Bradlee were overall unblemished characters.

The film also mentions there were connections between the Washington Post and the political elite: Katherine Graham was a personal friend of Robert McNamara, who advised her on appointing Post directors. Ben Bradlee had been a personal friend of President Kennedy. Connections, damaging the possibilities of criticizing government policies.

This Spielberg film correctly points out that all US presidents, from Truman to Nixon, lied about the Vietnam war. But there are limits to its political criticism. Because this film was produced by 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch?

The film has a happy end … well, a happy almost-end. The Supreme court of the USA decides that the Nixon administration is wrong to persecute the Washington Post and New York Times for espionage for publishing the Pentagon Papers, threatening their publishers and journalists with prison. The statement by Supreme Court judge Hugo Black, supporting press freedom, is read:

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

However, that happy end is not really the end. As the final scene of the film is about the burglary scandal at the Watergate building, ordered by Richard Nixon.

Unfortunately, it is doubtful whether the Washington Post and similar media will have the same courage now on the many Pentagon wars as they had in 1971 on Vietnam. The Washington Post and similar media today are even more linked to the economic and political establishment than they already were at the time of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. And the Supreme Court today, compared to 1971? President Trump has put a judge there, the founder and ex-president of an organisation calling itself ‘fascism forever’.

Murdoch media smear British Labour leader


This video from Britain says about itself:

‘Liverpool has never forgiven the Sun for Hillsborough disaster front page‘ – Liv Echo editor

25 April 2015

Liverpool Echo news editor David Bartlett joins Afshin to discuss the issues of Liverpool in the run up to the election. From homelessness activists occupying the former Bank of England building to provide living space for rough sleepers, to government cuts eating into household budgets, to memories of the 96 people that died in the Hillsborough disaster, we look at what makes Liverpool tick.

By Nathan Akehurst in Britain:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Team Corbyn laughs off ‘ridiculous’ cold war spy smear

ALLIES of Jeremy Corbyn responded with bewilderment to today’s front page story in the Sun accusing the Labour leader of a 1980s spy novel-style plot involving Czech security services.

The story alleges that Mr Corbyn was placed on a Czech list of foreign sources.

But those around Mr Corbyn pointed out that a junior back-bench MP would not hold any privileged information to leak.

His spokesman flatly denied that Mr Corbyn had provided intelligence, adding: “In the 1980s he met a Czech diplomat for a cup of tea.

“During the cold war, intelligence officers notoriously claimed to superiors to have recruited people they had merely met. The existence of these bogus claims does not make them true.”

The 1980s Czech files on Mr Corbyn revealed by the Sun provide no new information. They do confirm that Mr Corbyn was “negative toward the current politics of the Conservative government.”

A Labour source said: “The Sun should stick to its normal brand of cheap fiction and avoid trying to channel John le Carré.”

See also here.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post, film, media and wars


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Post | Behind-the-Scenes Interviews

15 December 2017

We talk with stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Carrie Coon, Tracy Letts, writer/co-producer Liz Hannah, writer Josh Singer and director Steven Spielberg about their new film ‘The Post’ .

Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

In Theaters – January 12, 2018

By David Swanson in the USA:

1/28/2018 at 13:03:40

The Post should be viewed by current editors of The Post

I was afraid that The Post would give us a Hollywood film version of the publication of the Pentagon Papers and manage never to say what was in the Pentagon Papers. I was afraid it would be turned into a pro-war movie. I was afraid we’d be told that the Washington Post was a courageous institution while Daniel Ellsberg was a dirty traitor. I am pleased to have had no reason for such concerns.

The Post is not exactly an anti-war movie, Ellsberg is not a main character, the peace movement is just rabble scenery, and the major focus is split between journalism’s struggle against government and Katherine Graham’s struggle against sexism. But we are in fact told in this film that the Pentagon Papers documented decades of official war lies and the continuation of mass-slaughter year-after-year purely out of cowardly unwillingness to be the one to end it. The Post leaves Ellsberg looking like the hero he is and Robert McNamara looking like the Nazi he was. And I’m left to complain that I have nothing to complain about.

Well, except this: We’re supposed to believe that the fact that the U.S. government had been blatantly lying about its motivations, actions, and analyses of its warmaking for decades came as a shocking revelation to every intern, reporter, editor, and publisher at the Washington Post, that they all had simply had no idea, bless their hearts, and that they all immediately believed that this brand-new truth needed to be told (with the only hurdle being the willingness of the publisher to stick to the obvious course of action when faced with legal threats from the Justice Department).

This story obscures the fact that senators, Congress members, independent reporters like I.F. Stone, and many others had been exposing the lies in real time for years. And, of course, many statements appeared to be lies without the need for any exposure. We’re expected to overlook the willful suspension of disbelief required to believe, for example, that predicting imminent success in Vietnam over and over again for years was all driven by honest reflection on facts. The peace movement was the massive recognition of the lies. The peace movement persuaded Ellsberg to act. The people running the Washington Post cannot have been quite as oblivious as we’re led to believe.

The same tale of innocence also may leave the moviegoer with the entirely false impression that the Washington Post has instinctively challenged the most blatant war lies ever since the days of Tricky Dick. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ellsberg has said that Trump should see this movie. I’d rather Jeff Bezos

world’s richest man, owner of Amazon.com and presently also of the Washington Post

and each of his employees at the current Post see it.

Here are some of the wars that the Washington Post has helped to promote since the moment the credits rolled: Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War (the Post outdid itself promoting a fictional account of babies being taken out of incubators), Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and drone wars in general.

Here are the wars I am aware of the Washington Post having opposed: _______________.

The current U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen is unusual for the Post‘s pretense that the U.S. military isn’t actively engaged in it, even while admirably asking the U.S. to ask the Saudis to open the ports.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, War Is A Lie:

In May and June 2005, the most repeated excuse by U.S. media outlets, including the Washington Post, for not covering the Downing Street Minutes and related documents demonstrating the dishonesty of the planners of the War on Iraq, was that the documents told us nothing new, that they were old news. This conflicted, of course, with the second most common excuse, which was that they were false.

Those of us trumpeting the story as new and important scratched our heads. Of course we’d known the Bush-Cheney gang was lying, but did everyone know that? Had corporate media outlets reported it? Had they informed the public of confirmation of this fact in the form of memos from top government officials in the United Kingdom? And if so, when? When had this particular piece of news been new news?

At what point did it become stale and unnecessary to report that Bush had decided by the summer of 2002 to go to war and to use false justifications related to weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism? Judging by opinion polls in spring 2005, we hadn’t reached that point yet. Much of the public still believed the lies.

If you went back, as I did, and reviewed all the issues of the Washington Post that had come out in June, July, and August 2002, you found that, while what was happening behind closed doors in Washington and London may have been known to the Washington Post, it certainly never informed its readers. [i] In fact, during that three month period, I found a flood of pro-war articles, editorials, and columns, many of them promoting the lies the debunking of which was supposedly old news.

On August 18, 2002, for example, the Washington Post ran an editorial, an ombudsman column, and three op-eds about a potential U.S. attack on Iraq, as well as three related “news” articles. One article, placed on the top of the front page, reported on a memo that Secretary of “Defense” Donald Rumsfeld had sent to the White House and the media. “Defense” officials were worried that countries such as Iraq or Iran could use cruise missile technology to attack “U.S. installations or the American homeland”.

The article contained the admission that “no particular piece of new intelligence prompted the warning.” What prompted the reporting?

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War”, “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union”. He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.

Jordanian journalists arrested for exposing tax dodging


This video from Britain says about itself:

Censorship & torturePrince Charles visits Jordan amid questions over human rights

9 February 2015

Prince Charles visits Kuwait today as part of his tour of the Middle East. On Saturday he visited Jordan, with the world rightly outraged that one of their pilots was burned to death by ISIS. Obama was angered by that, but seemed to forget the 2,500 people that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report have been killed by drone strikes in countries we’re not actually at war with. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, warn that Jordan is stepping up attacks and censorship on independent media, criminalising speech critical of the King, and claims torture enjoys near-total impunity. According to the recent unauthorised biography of Prince Charles, he doesn’t like peddling arms to Arab countries, so what is he up to in the region?

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Press Freedom: Jordanians demand release of journalists who exposed minister’s tax-dodging

PRESS freedom advocates are calling for the release of two Jordanian journalists who were arrested after they accused the country’s finance minister of tax evasion.

Shadi al-Zinati and Omar al-Mahrama, of the Jfranews website, were nabbed by police on Tuesday after Finance Minister Omar Malhas claimed the allegations against him were false.

They face charges under Jordan’s press and cybercrime laws, which contain sections that make it easy for authorities to arrest journalists.

The Middle East Eye reported that dozens of media workers rallied outside the Jordan Press Association (JPA) yesterday, holding a banner bearing a quote from King Abdullah promising that journalists would not be prosecuted for doing their jobs.

JPA freedoms committee chair Khaled Qudah said the body was working to free the pair.

He told the Alghad newspaper that “these arrests strike at the heart of freedom of expression in Jordan.”

MP Saddah Alhabashneh accused the government of trying to “muffle” dissent after recent decisions that impoverish ordinary Jordanians.

Steven Spielberg’s new film The Post


This video from the USA says about itself:

15 December 2017

On Thursday December 14, The Washington Post hosted a discussion with director Steven Spielberg and cast members of the movie, “The Post”, a drama about the newspaper’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in June 1971. The Washington Post’s chief film critic, Ann Hornaday, was joined on stage by Spielberg and actors Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk and Bradley Whitford to talk about the movie.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Steven Spielberg’s The Post: To reveal government secrets and lies or not?

17 January 2018

Directed by Steven Spielberg; screenplay by Liz Hannah and John Singer

Steven Spielberg’s new film The Post recounts the internal struggle at the Washington Post over whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers in June 1971.

The 7,000-page, 47-volume document was a Department of Defense history of American imperialist involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1966. It revealed that successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, had systematically lied for decades, with devastating consequences, including the death of millions of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of Americans.

At the center of The Post are a series of disputes that took place over the advisability of making public the explosive government secrets, including between Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and her financial and legal consultants, and between Graham, on the one hand, and managing editor Ben Bradlee and his reporting staff, on the other. In addition, Graham and Bradlee each undergoes an internal conflict during the crisis.

Spielberg’s film conscientiously and intelligently represents these events and brings out a number of critical questions, including freedom of the press, the right of the population to know what the authorities are up to, and the dangers of presidential dictatorship.

The Post begins in 1966 with a semi-prologue. Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), a military analyst, is on a fact-finding mission in Vietnam for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). Concurring in private with Ellsberg that the war is going terribly, McNamara sings a different, optimistic tune in front of the American media.

Ellsberg has served as a Marine, spent two years working in Vietnam with the State Department, and has been involved in the writing of a document, commissioned by McNamara in 1967, blandly entitled “History of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-66”, which eventually gains notoriety as the “Pentagon Papers.”

In 1969, increasingly disillusioned by the war and disgusted at government falsehoods, Ellsberg and his colleague Anthony Russo (Sonny Valicenti), both employed at RAND Corporation, begin clandestinely photocopying all 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers.

On June 13, 1971, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) are caught off guard when the New York Times starts publishing portions of the top-secret document, which Ellsberg had leaked to Times reporter Neil Sheehan (Justin Swain). Bradlee is frustrated by Sheehan’s blockbuster scoop.

On June 15, Attorney General John Mitchell tells the Times they are violating the Espionage Act, and the Nixon administration gets a court order to stop the Times from continuing to publish the papers. “If the Times shuts down,” Bradley says, “we’re in business.”

“Anyone else tired of reading the news instead of reporting it?” he asks angrily and rhetorically, charging national editor Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) with tracking down the source of the leak. When Bagdikian figures out it is Ellsberg, a former colleague at RAND, he goes to Boston, meets the anxious whistleblower, and returns to Washington with a trove of 4,400 photocopied pages.

The Post now possesses the material. The debate over whether or not to publish it pits Bradlee against the paper’s legal team, bankers and potential investors. Graham and her business advisors are in the midst of launching the newspaper’s first public stock offering worth millions of dollars. Criminal charges could destroy the paper and potentially land Graham and Bradlee in prison.

Bradlee argues: “The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish.” Furthermore, he argues: “We have to be the check on their power. If we don’t hold them accountable, who will?” As the debate rages between the editorial and legal departments, additional pressure is brought to bear on Graham by her friend Robert McNamara. In a private conversation, however, she reminds him that her son fought in Vietnam and that she has an obligation to expose the heinous character of the war and government lies, including his own. In reply, McNamara vehemently warns her: “Nixon hates you, and if there’s a way to destroy your paper, he’ll find it.”

The first Washington Post article making use of the Pentagon Papers appears on June 18, despite threats from the Justice Department, which insists (via a phone call from then assistant attorney general and future chief justice of the US Supreme Court, William Rehnquist!) that the paper has—like the Times—violated the Espionage Act.

On June 26, 1971, the Supreme Court hears the Post and Times cases together, and on June 30, issues a 6-3 decision, supporting the papers’ right to publish. The Post ends with the onset of the Watergate scandal in 1972, whose working out would bring about the resignation of Richard Nixon in disgrace two years later.

Spielberg’s movie honestly and entertainingly sets out to depict the details and personalities of a major moment in American history. Its strongest element is a genuine democratic sensibility. Perhaps the most oft-repeated line in the film is “They lied”, referring to the various administrations. Graham and Bradlee are truly perturbed by the actions of particularly the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Each has been personally close to officials in both.

Furthermore, The Post demonstrates that the interests of the population stand in opposition to those of the authorities. It argues for the press to be independent of and skeptical toward government pronouncements. It that sense, it is a rebuke and condemnation of today’s mainstream media, which has become little more than a propaganda arm of the White House, CIA and Pentagon.

The Post is Spielberg’s filmmaking at his most effective: coherent, well-told, engaging. The entire cast performs with a degree of urgency and commitment. Special mention must go to Hanks, Odenkirk and Greenwood. The filmmakers successfully integrate snippets from Nixon’s infamous, mafia-like audio tapes over the image of a shadowy figure in a White House window. Moreover, the movie’s rhythm and intensity provide a sense of the real rhythm and intensity of the earth-shaking events in 1971.

Support for this effort comes from the score by John Williams, and the script by co-writer Josh Singer who also co-wrote the screenplay for Spotlight, a 2015 exposé of the Catholic Church. Singer presumably has a hand here in doing what he did for that film, creating an unglamorous, “secondary” character who seems entirely devoted to uncovering the truth: in Spotlight, the indefatigable lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), and here, Odenkirk’s Bagdikian.

Above all, The Post directs the attention of contemporary audiences to a momentous episode. The movie’s production notes point out that the Pentagon Papers “would set off shattering shockwaves that continue to this day. The document…uncovered a dark truth: that vast, wide-ranging deceptions about the deadly war in Vietnam had spanned four presidential administrations, from Truman to Eisenhower, Kennedy to Johnson.

“The Pentagon Papers revealed that each of those Presidents had repeatedly misled the public about U.S. operations in Vietnam, and that even as the government was said to be pursuing peace, behind the scenes the military and CIA were covertly expanding the war. The Papers provided a shadowy history loaded with evidence of assassinations, violations of the Geneva Convention, rigged elections and lies in front of Congress.”

In an interview, Singer said that The Post script had foreseen some present-day parallels under Donald Trump to the era depicted in their film. “It was remarkable how more and more relevant the first amendment theme became as we were in production”, remarked the scriptwriter. “It’s one of the reasons why Steven [Spielberg] wanted to make the movie now.”

The comment is no doubt sincere, but it points in a contradictory fashion to some of the movie’s limitations.

The authentic feeling for the First Amendment and constitutional rights is expressed in a film that, first of all, also offers a highly idealized portrait of its central characters. The Post itself makes mention of the many connections of Graham and Bradlee to the political establishment. McNamara, one of the chief war criminals of the day, was Graham’s close personal friend.

The movie’s feminist coloration is off the mark. The script apparently originated with the desire of screenwriter Liz Hannah “to tell the story of Katharine Graham, the former Washington Post publisher who became the first-ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company … As Hannah was writing the first draft, the symmetry between Graham and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton seemed to be the most obvious parallel to the present. (She sold the script just 10 days before the election.)” Fortunately, the screenplay evolved from that narrow beginning to take up broader questions. Nonetheless, the emphasis on Graham’s “pioneering” status as a female CEO remains. The filmmakers take for granted this is something to celebrate.

As an antidote to the worship of Graham-Streep, it ought to be remembered that one of the most notorious union-busting operations of the 1970s took place when the publisher set out to break the pressmen’s union at the Post, provoking a strike in October 1975 that ended with mass firings and the frame-up of 15 workers on charges related to slightly damaged equipment in the printing plant. The Post strike is widely considered one of the preludes to the Reagan administration’s destruction of the air traffic controllers union, PATCO, in 1981.

In the Washington Monthly in January 1976, in an article sharply critical of Graham and her activities, the same Ben Bagdikian who hunted down and helped see to the publication of the Pentagon Papers wrote that the Post’s going public in 1971 marked the “transformation of the daily newspaper in the United States from a family enterprise to a corporation with an obligation to its stockholders to ‘maximize’ profits.”

As for Bradlee, his history may be even more sordid. This Cold War liberal from a Boston Brahmin family, and an intimate friend of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, worked covertly for the CIA in Europe in the 1950s. His sister-in-law in 1971 was Mary Pinchot Meyer, formerly married to Cord Meyer, a high-level CIA official, involved in countless agency operations.

Christopher Reed in a 2014 Guardian obituary detailed how Bradlee had “spent many years undercover as a counter-espionage informant, a government propagandist and an unofficial asset of the Central Intelligence Agency.” Among his credits, according to Reed, included promulgating “CIA-directed European propaganda urging the controversial
execution of the convicted American spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg” in 1953.

As noted above, The Post offers a romanticized version of Graham and Bradlee as heroes of democracy, and that is not to the filmmakers’ credit. Moreover, Spielberg’s rush to shoot and release the film by the end of 2017 apparently had a great deal to do with Trump’s coming to power and his own support for the Democratic Party.

This is not the first time in history of course that a Hollywood movie has shaded the truth about the lives of its central figures. But that has not prevented a host of biographical and historical films from shedding light on important matters. That’s the case here too. The Post has an impact and implications that go beyond the immediate ideas and intentions of the filmmakers.

Spielberg’s film dramatizes, with some insight, the outlook and physiognomy of a bourgeois layer who still retained in 1971 some attachment to and also fear about the abandonment of democratic principles. After all, only one year after the mass protests over the killings at Kent State, what if the Pentagon Papers had gotten beyond the control of the New York Times and the Washington Post? In any event, Graham and Bradlee showed a certain amount of courage and principle in contrast to their counterparts today.

The whole ruling elite has moved dramatically to the right. Graham herself said in 1988 in an address to the CIA: “There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t … I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”

In November of 2010, at the height of the revelations published by WikiLeaks of US actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller published a piece stressing that in considering whether or not to disclose state secrets, the Times engaged in “extensive and serious discussions with the government.” Keller wrote: “We agree wholeheartedly that transparency is not an absolute good. Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.” There would be no publication of the Pentagon Papers in our day.

It is inconceivable that the 1971 Supreme Court decision allowing the Times and Post to publish the documents would be handed down today. The courts now routinely rule that the government has the right to suppress information and spy on everybody in the interests of “national security.”

The Post cites a passage from Justice Hugo Black’s 1971 ruling. It is worth quoting at greater length:

“In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. … In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly.”

The fate of Daniel Ellsberg, who never went to jail and was even widely honored, was far different from that of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. In 2011, an 80-year-old Ellsberg, commenting on the 40th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers, wrote: “What we need released this month are the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan, Yemen and Libya).”

In an interview with CNN at that time, Ellsberg noted that the crimes committed by the Nixon administration against him 40 years ago could now be carried out under the cover of law by the Obama White House.

The list of crimes “includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst’s office… warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White House hit squad to ‘incapacitate me totally’ (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971)”, Ellsberg said. “But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama’s executive orders”, those crimes “have all become legal.”

To whatever extent Spielberg, Singer and company are aware of the vast decay of American democracy, it is the most vital feature that the discerning viewer will take away from The Post.

Film Of The Week: Urgent message in The Post. MARIA DUARTE recommends a resonant film on how the US government attempted to gag the press during the Vietnam war: here.

Steven Spielberg: ‘The urgency to make The Post was because of Trump’s administration’: here.