‘The Post’ Fact-Check: Did Nixon Really Say That About the Washington Post? (Audio)



(Spoiler alert: Contains a major reveal about Steven Spielberg’s wonderful “The Post.”)
The final sequence of Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” features a vindictive and petty Richard Nixon, on a recorded line, demanding of an underling that no Washington Post reporters be allowed in the White House ever again. It’s a great ending — but is it accurate?
Yes and no. Nixon absolutely did tell his obsequious press secretary, Ron Ziegler, that “no reporter from the Washington Post is ever to be in the White House.” If the audio in the film isn’t the actual recording (which you can check out above), it’s a very fair and faithful re-creation.
But the film takes a lot of license with timing.
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The film may give the impression that Nixon spoke to his underling soon after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, and at roughly the same time as the Watergate break-in.
In fact, the Washington Post began publishing its Pentagon Papers stories on June 18, 1971. The Watergate break-in was just a day short of a year later: June 17, 1972 — though Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s gradual stream of scoops about the crime, and the White House’s involvement, unfolded over many months.
Nixon beat Democrat George McGovern in a crushing landslide on Nov. 7, 1972. And then he issued his petty command about the Post on Dec. 11, 1972 — following weeks of Post scoops about Watergate.
So the break-in and the “no reporter from the Washington Post is ever to be in the White House” were actually about six months apart.
Interestingly, if you listen closely to the recording, it sounds like Nixon does make one exception for the Post — for press conferences. Here’s my best transcription from the 30-second mark:
Nixon: I want it clearly understood that from now on, ever, no reporter from the Washington Post is ever to be in the White House. Is that clear? 
Ziegler: Absolutely.
Nixon: Unless it’s a press conference. 
Ziegler: Yes sir. Just the briefing here, but… 
Nixon: Never in the White House, no church service, nothing with Mrs. Nixon does, you tell Connie, don’t tell Mrs. Nixon, ’cause she’ll approve it. No reporter from the Washington Post is ever to be in the White House again. And no photographer either. No photographer. Is that clear? None ever to be in. Now that is a total order and if necessary I’ll fire you. You understand?
Ziegler: I do understand.
Nixon: Okay. All right. Good. Thank you. 
And so it was that no Washington Post reporter was ever allowed in the White House, ever again. (Except for press conferences.)

The initial idea for the 1991 Steven Spielberg film “Hook” came when screenwriter Jim Hart’s six-year-old son Jake asked him an innocent question one day: “What if Peter Pan grew up?” It was a few years later until the film got made and Jake, then 11, (pictured center, flanked by Robin Williams and Hart) got to be one of the Lost Boys. “He was in all of the battle scenes, trained with combat choreographers and played on that set all summer,” Hart told TheWrap of his son’s uncredited role — one that Spielberg personally offered to him.
Read on for more on this behind-the-scenes story. You can also find “Hook” trivia, quotes and goofs on IMDb.
From Jim Hart

“Every day on the set Robin would bow to Jake repeatedly and say, ‘Thank you for my job, Jake,'” Hart recalled of the late actor who starred in “Hook” as an adult Peter Pan. Williams wrote an inscription to the writer on a copy of the screenplay that read: “Jim, you and Jake were the seeds. Yours was the dream that grew into the Nevertree. Without your magic we would not be. Peter Pan forever. Long live the Hook. Bless your incredible imaginations.”
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“There was only one person who could play Peter Pan,” Hart said of Williams, with whom he remained close after production on “Hook” ended. “He really understood the power of the idea. Steven, too.” Hart told TheWrap that he has a pair of Williams’ sneakers — and still wears them to honor his memory. 
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Glenn Close had a very stealthy and brief cameo in the film as a male pirate (whose name appears as Gutless in the credits). Her disguise was so convincing that 15-year-old Dante Basco, who played Lost Boys leader Rufio, didn’t recognize her in the makeup trailer, TheWrap learned from filmmakers.
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There were several more star cameos, staged as inside jokes for the filmmakers’ own enjoyment and also serve as fun easter eggs for fans. “Phil Collins (pictured) was desperate to be in the movie,” said Hart. “I wrote the inspector scene and expanded it quite a bit.” Singer David Crosby appears as a pirate. Hart also wrote a small role for Jimmy Buffet but he didn’t make Spielberg’s final list.  
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There’s a longstanding report that two people seen kissing on a bridge in one scene are, in fact, “Star Wars” colleagues George Lucas and Carrie Fisher. The scene happens early in the film as Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) carts off Peter Pan (Williams) to Neverland. 
TheWrap confirmed with two “Hook” filmmakers — and Fisher herself — that the kissing duo is indeed she and Lucas.
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“Hook” associate producer and first assistant director Bruce Cohen told TheWrap that the film, shot on two elaborate sound stages on the MGM lot, was a magnet for a wide swath of celebrities. “It became the hot place in town,” he explained. “I remember Queen Noor of Jordan visited the set and all sorts of movie and TV stars, directors and even people from other studios.” Filmmakers had their famous visitors sign an official guest book.
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In between shots, Williams would do standup for the crew. “It was just magnificent to see Robin entertaining the troops,” recalled Cohen. “Robin was the soul of the set,” added Hart. “With 100-plus shooting days, Robin could keep everyone laughing. The Lost Boys loved him, the crew loved him. He worked harder than any actor on the film. He rehearsed his sword fights, flying, always hung around between takes and kept the energy.”
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“Doing this part reminded me of doing ‘Tootsie,'” Dustin Hoffman said of his Captain Hook role in 1992. “You put the make-up on, and suddenly you are that person. As soon as I got that costume on, I was launched.”
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Don’t let that famous smile fool you, the production wasn’t so easy for Julia Roberts, who filmed her pint-sized part alone in front of a green screen. It became challenging for her and Spielberg, and earned her the nickname “Tinkerhell,” TheWrap learned. 
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Wrangling all 34 Lost Boys was no cake walk for Spielberg either. They were as rambunctious off camera as they were on — something the director hasn’t shied away from admitting in interviews. 
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Writer Jim Hart originally devised the role of Tinkerbell with Meg Ryan in mind.
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Ironically, Maggie Smith looks almost exactly the same in the film as she does now — as she was aged with makeup to play Granny Wendy. “I found her to be so funny, warm and incredibly brilliant,” said Cohen.
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Spielberg originally wanted to make the movie in the early 80s with Michael Jackson as Peter Pan. The plan was to have the King of Pop sing the songs on the soundtrack. But Spielberg was too tied up with “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” which factored into the long delay for “Hook.”
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Tom Hanks and Kevin Kline were also in the running for the role of Peter Pan. And David Bowie was offered the part of Captain Hook but turned it down.
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“Hook” marked Gwyneth Paltrow’s second film role. “We all knew she had great things in store,” said Cohen. “She had a real presence about her even back then.”
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Dodi Fayad controlled the rights to Peter Pan and was listed as an executive producer on the 1991 film. He would die just six years later with his companion Diana, Princess of Wales. 
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Bob Hoskins, who played Hook’s sidekick Smee, was also a beloved cast member. Both Hoskins and Robin Williams died in 2014. “Losing both of them in the same year was unbelievable,” Hart said. “It was a giant loss. You’re not going to see those two guys again in some other actor.” 
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Williams’ adult Peter Pan is seen constantly attached to his, now vintage, Motorola phone in the first part of the film. “The height of new tech at the time,” Cohen said with a laugh. 
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“Hook” didn’t get great reviews when it first came out, and Spielberg himself has admitted it’s not one of his favorites. “I don’t love ‘Hook,’ but my kids do,” he said in a recent interview. Despite any negativity, it earned five Oscar nominations and made more than $300 million worldwide. Fans are the ones who demanded some celebration of the 25th anniversary, Hart told TheWrap. “It wasn’t on the studio’s or even Steven’s radar,” he said, noting that he has met fans with “Hook”-inspired tattoos. 
Discover more “Hook” trivia, quotes and goofs on IMDb. 
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The “soul of the set” was Robin Williams; Steven Spielberg staged several secret star cameos

The initial idea for the 1991 Steven Spielberg film “Hook” came when screenwriter Jim Hart’s six-year-old son Jake asked him an innocent question one day: “What if Peter Pan grew up?” It was a few years later until the film got made and Jake, then 11, (pictured center, flanked by Robin Williams and Hart) got to be one of the Lost Boys. “He was in all of the battle scenes, trained with combat choreographers and played on that set all summer,” Hart told TheWrap of his son’s uncredited role — one that Spielberg personally offered to him.
Read on for more on this behind-the-scenes story. You can also find “Hook” trivia, quotes and goofs on IMDb.

Tim Molloy is an editor at TheWrap. He wrote How to Break Bad News and another book that will be published someday.

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