Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks on the set of The Post. Photo: Niko Tavernise / 20th Century Fox via AP

At last night's world premiere of "The Post," a movie about the Pentagon Papers case of 1971, the Washington audience burst into applause when Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, made her epic decision to challenge the Nixon White House on years of lies about Vietnam.

  • "Let's go. Let's do it. ... Let's publish."
  • The plot, via WashPost movie critic Ann Hornaday: "Although [Graham and editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks] enjoyed a warm working relationship, it would be thrown into a crucible in the summer of '71 with the publication of the Pentagon Papers after the New York Times, which first broke the story, had been ordered to cease doing so by a court injunction.
  • "That bravado that would send The Post into an epic legal and existential battle just as Graham was preparing to take her family's media company public — a deal that could easily be scuttled by her potential imprisonment and a Supreme Court fight, not to mention the vindictive administration of president Richard M. Nixon."

Steven Spielberg — director of the movie, in theaters Dec. 22 — appeared at the Newseum before the screening and said: "[T]his was a story that had to be made right now because it resonated right now."

  • Spielberg saluted the audience's generations of Washington Post royalty, including the current owner, Jeff Bezos: "Every week, the men and women of The Washington Post, Jeff, do you proud."
  • Spielberg added: "'The Post' is mainly about The Post, but, in truth, it has two institutional protagonists: The Washington Post and The New York Times. This is a story about competition, and it's also about cooperation. Everyone in your business wants the scoop, but in our story, as well as today, newspapers are working together to achieve their most important aim" — the pursuit of objective truth through hard work.
  • Others in the audience included Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein; Sally Quinn, Bradlee's wife, and their son, Quinn Bradlee; former Post publisher Don Graham and Lally Weymouth, both children of Katharine Graham; and Warren Buffett, longtime board member of the Washington Post Co.

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