- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Iconic filmmaker Steven Spielberg says America is as divided today as it was “before the Civil War.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about his upcoming film “The Post,” the longtime Democrat lamented that he has a hard time fitting in with friends and family members who live outside of the liberal bastion of California.

“We live in an area where we don’t know a lot of red-state voters,” he said. “Well, I know a lot because I have friends and family in other parts of this country, and so at dinner-table conversations outside of California, I’m completely mute or I get into these huge rows.

“The gray and the blue have become the blue and the red,” he said. “And it is as vast a chasm as our nation faced before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Meryl Streep, who plays publisher Katharine Graham in “The Post,” added, “We don’t know where north is. People disagree on what actual facts are. Whether this table is really a table.”

“The Post” follows the newspaper’s controversial decision in 1971 to report on the “Pentagon Papers” study of the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration’s attempts to restrain the media. Mr. Spielberg said the current climate between President Trump and the media made the story all the more relevant.

“I was really curious about the subject matter,” he said. “[The Post editor] Ben Bradlee was my neighbor for years in East Hampton. He and his wife, Sally [Quinn], and Nora Ephron and [her husband] Nick Pileggi would come over and we would have these soirees. When I finished [Liz Hannah’s] script, I thought this was an idea that felt more like 2017 than 1971 — I could not believe the similarities between today and what happened with the Nixon administration against their avowed enemies The New York Times and The Washington Post. I realized this was the only year to make this film.”

“My first reaction [reading it] was I got scared — which is good for me because fear is my fuel,” he said. “The more frightened I become of something, the more I have to work through it. This was a topic that was scaring everybody I know on my side of the [political] street — and quite rightly.”

The Hollywood Reporter asked Mr. Spielberg and Ms. Streep whether they trust the media today.

“Broadly? All of it? No,” Ms. Streep responded.

Mr. Spielberg said, “I’m not going to go on record saying which media I trust; I’m just saying, obviously, there is media that you would imagine I would not trust. (Laughter.) Obviously, there is media you would take for granted I trust, and you would be right.”

“You trust but verify,” Ms. Streep added. “We get betrayed.”

Mr. Spielberg said he trusts the reporting of CNN’s Don Lemon and Christiane Amanpour, as well as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Ms. Streep said she trusts The New York Times, specifically White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, and The Washington Post and The Guardian.

“I check in on Politico, Axios and Drudge, and I go to Fox often to see the manipulation,” she added.

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