In the summer of 1971, a wiry man about 40 carrying a briefcase walked down the hall of Boston After Dark, led by my news editor. I was the executive editor. As they passed my office, I was at my desk reading an extract from the Pentagon Papers in the Boston Globe. This was that hot set of documents revealing how several White House administrations had lied about Vietnam, how our appointed and elected officials blinded us with fake news.

These papers had already appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Now they had been delivered to the Globe, delivered by a modern-day Diogenes who believed honesty trumped dishonesty — delivered by the wiry man with the briefcase.

Daniel Ellsberg was wearing a dark suit with a shirt open at the neck. He came into my office, once again led by my news editor, Paul Solman, who for many years since has been the PBS News Hour business reporter. He introduced me to The Man of the Moment and asked if Ellsberg could hide out in our offices for awhile. His wife had called to advise him not to show up at their Cambridge home because it had been surrounded by the press. So he decided to wait them out in our little media sanctuary. He stretched out on the office cot and took a snooze.

Daniel Ellsberg, still going strong and about to turn 87, is now the lynchpin in The Post, nearly 47 years after he first hit the headlines. But the movie is not so much about this man — a former government employee and military analyst — as it is about the people in charge of the second newspaper that decided to bite the bullet and publish the Pentagon Papers.

When no one in political officialdom would listen to him and act, Ellsberg turned to the New York Times. After they printed a first installment they were forced to stop by a Nixon administration-led injunction. So The Post stepped in, gingerly, to fill the publication void. Soon the Pentagon Papers were everywhere.

Watching The Post took me back to those heady days of 1971, my early days in the newspaper business. The movie drifted back to a time when we saw our government as the purveyor of fake news and looked to our journalists as the watchdogs. How did we get to a point where today we’ve decided to wear our eyeglasses backwards? After all, two years after the Pentagon Papers, we had Watergate, and again we turned to the Washington Post and the New York Times. These papers haven’t really changed, but somehow we have. Maybe it has something to do with the evils of progress, the anarchy of social media, the computerization of everything.

The release of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate affair happened at a time when people in high places were held accountable for their actions, a time when the corrupt and the negligent had to face the music. It seems like these days that orchestra has been sent packing. Responsibility has become quaint, like a distressed item for Antiques Roadshow. And ethics have gone the way of civility, scruples and protective regulations.

I miss 1971. I miss respect (or even a reasonable facsimile) for the legitimate fourth estate. I even miss the physicality of the way those ink-stained wretches put out the daily paper. Back when I was starting out, it was all hot type. Those incredible monster machines, linotypes, that looked like crushed locomotives pumping out the alphabet in molten lead. Out came trays of hot type upside down and backwards. Then they were stacked into columns and braced into metal page frames. Gobs of ink were rolled across the type. A blank page was then ironed onto it. Then you peeled off a whole newspaper page you could proof-read before the presses ran for real.

By the end of 1971, however, the ghost of Gutenberg slid further into history as cold type took over. The linotype gave way to the computer.

The Post’s story also seems fittingly old-fashioned. Not unlike the film of All The President’s Men, it unspools a good yarn of deduction, of legwork, of putting a puzzle together, piece by piece, without the benefit of computers or smart phones.

What’s missing from the movie is not only did The Post get away with publishing stolen classified documents but also Ellsberg got away with stealing them. All because the Nixon administration freaked. The White House gang, soon to be known as the Plumbers, broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office looking for anything they could use to smear and discredit him. When the whole matter finally landed in court, the charges against Ellsberg were dropped, essentially because of the government’s illegal conduct in pursuing him.

When Daniel Ellsberg awoke from his snooze at Boston After Dark that afternoon, he told me he had to do what he did, that democracy is violated when public servants deceive the people they’re serving and act above the rule of law. Then the man Henry Kissinger called “the most dangerous man in America” went home to his wife.

Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.