The White House has requested a screener for the Steven Spielberg film The Post. The White House has had small movie theater on its grounds since 1942, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, and since that time, various presidents have held screenings of important movies. Richard Nixon was reported to have watched Patton over and over again during his White House years. The first movie Jimmy Carter showed in the White House was All the President’s Men, which dramatized Nixon’s downfall. Ronald Reagan, a former movie star, favored westerns, while Barack Obama held major events related to specific movies regularly, from Selma to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The current president, Donald Trump, has spent a great deal of time thus far feuding with Hollywood – while a lot of people in the movie world, it’s fair to say, aren’t fans of his either. Trump, the former host of The Apprentice, has made cameo appearances in numerous movies over the years, and is very much a creature of the entertainment industry. Even Trump’s adviser-turned-enemy, Steve Bannon, spent several years as a movie producer. Now, the Trump White House has made a surprising film request.
According to THR, the White House has asked for the opportunity to screen The Post, the Steven Spielberg-directed movie about the Washington Post’s 1971 fight to publish the Pentagon Papers, over the objections of the Nixon Administration. The request, according to THR, has been granted, and copies of the film will be delivered to both the White House and the presidential retreat at Camp David, which the president is scheduled to visit this weekend. The request, the story made clear, does not mean that Trump has personally requested a chance to view the film, or that the president himself will definitely watch it. Trump is at Camp David to meet with Republican lawmakers on Saturday and Sunday.
For the White House to request this particular film is ironic for several reasons. Most of the principals of The Post, including stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, are vocal opponents of the president, who has used his Twitter account to trash Streep personally on more than one occasion. Spielberg has implied in interviews that The Post, which began production in the spring of 2017, was produced in direct response to Trump’s presidency. In addition, the request came on the very same day that lawyers for the president moved to block the publication of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, a scathing new book about Trump’s first year as president, which echoes attempts by the Nixon White House, as depicted in The Post, to block the Post and New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. Publisher Henry Holt & Co., much like Ben Bradlee and Co. in 1971, rebuffed the request and even moved the book’s publication date up to Friday.
Still, you can’t blame Fox for accepting the request, and not only because it may draw attention to the film, as awards season approaches. Perhaps White House staffers, or possibly even the president himself, will see the movie and maybe even learn a thing or two. Then again, don’t be surprised to see an angry tweet from the president about The Post at some point this weekend.
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