The Post is a new movie starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg. The dramatization of the collision between the Nixon Administration and the Washington Post over the Pentagon Papers has been widely hailed as a support for freedom of the press, and journalistic integrity and responsibility.
But I watched it through the eyes of a female business owner, coming off one of the more tumultuous years for women in such roles, and for women, period. I was watching Meryl Street as Katharine Graham, the owner and publisher of the Washington Post who, in 1971 was in the often awkward “only woman in the room” position.

The movie shows her talked down to and talked over. She sees herself as the second-choice leader of the family-owned business upon her husband’s death (even though she, not he, was the actual family member. He married into the family and was still put in charge.)
She’s the only woman in the boardroom. In one meeting, she plunks down a huge binder, only to realize everyone else has a small stack of paper in front of them. She quickly hides her binder, only bringing it out again when someone else has a similar binder and makes a point of it. She passes sandwiches and defers to her advisors until history demands she take a stand.
And she does, knowing full well the potential consequences. Not that she doesn’t do so with fear and trepidation, and a lot of second guessing but she commits to taking a stand and does it. At the final decision point, she asks for advice, listens and then makes her decision. Once the decision is made, she announces she is going to bed. (In other words, the decision will not be discussed further.)
While Streep is brilliant and the part captivating, it’s another moment in the movie that keeps replaying in my head. The Supreme Court has just handed down its decision and a female reporter gets the phone call in the Post newsroom with the details. If you know your history, no spoiler alert is necessary here. “6 to 3,” she shouts. And a man steps out of a side office and steals her thunder, yelling “We won.” The message is clear, even in victory, even if women get there first, and have the connections and more information, men will keep interrupting women. But in this case, the female reporter has the last word, quoting from the majority opinion while everyone listens, rapt.
Keep talking,
Bobbie Carlton

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