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Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” is a well-crafted, old-school newspaper drama with a timely message about the crucial role of a fearless free press. But it misses the chance to rediscover a forgotten First Amendment hero—the late Judge Murray I. Gurfein.

The film recounts how the Washington Post joined the New York Times in defying the Nixon Justice Department over publication of the Pentagon Papers—leaked documents revealing decades of government deceit about the American folly in Vietnam. The case resulted in a landmark First Amendment precedent and set the stage, when the Watergate scandal soon broke, for the emboldened Post to help bring down a corrupt, paranoid, and vindictive president. The movie sparks hope that past might be prologue.

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