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Journalist Sally Quinn: ‘Tom Hanks Does An Incredible Job Portraying My Husband, Ben Bradlee’

Longtime Washington Post writer Sally Quinn told NPR’s On Point Friday that the film “The Post” is “fabulous” and that Tom Hanks “does an incredible job portraying my husband, Ben Bradlee."

Quinn, moderator of On Faith, said the movie accurately portrayed the drama surrounding the Post’s role in the Pentagon Papers (she worked at the paper at the time). The New York Times got the leak of secret documents first and fought the court battles, leading to some criticism from Times figures about this Post-centric movie.

But the movie is "about the drama" that occurred at the Washington paper, which once played third fiddle in the capital city; the Post's publisher Katharine Graham took a big risk in publishing its stories on the Pentagon Papers.

“This is a story about Ben and Kay,” said Quinn, who was married to Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor, until his death in 2014. “People have to remember that in those days, nobody had ever heard of the Washington Post.”

Quinn was on the show as part of our discussion of the film, the Pentagon Papers and modern journalism (full show). She spoke with guest host Tom Gjelten.

The Pentagon Papers, a leaked cache of secret Department of Defense documents, showed that the government had lied to the American public about the Vietnam War.

Graham is portrayed in the film by Meryl Streep; Graham, Quinn noted, had more on the line than Bradlee in the Pentagon Papers drama.

“In fact, Ben would be fine,” Quinn noted. “He’d get another job, he’d be a big hero. Whereas Kay had her whole family paper to lose.”

This is the second time Ben Bradlee has been featured in a major motion picture, both times by legendary actors. Jason Robards played Bradlee in the 1976 film “All The President’s Men,” about Watergate.

Jason Robards captured Bradlee’s crusty side and his cynicism.

Tom Hanks captured his idealism about journalism, Quinn said.

“I think both of them capture a special part of Ben, both equally good,” Quinn said.

This segment aired on December 22, 2017. The audio for this segment is not available.

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