In the beginning of the The Post, you see that the people leaking the Pentagon Papers cut the page numbers off each page before they copy it. Why did they do this? For anyone - including investigative journalists - finding the material, it is hard to figure out in which order the pages were.

In fact, that is making Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and his journalists team a lot of trouble when they receive the material later in the movie, because they have to order thousands of pages without any of them carrying a page number.

1 Answer 1


They're not removing the page numbers.

What they are actually doing is removing any indication that the stolen documents are classified Top Secret - Sensitive. *

*I'm unsure as to the reason why but I suspect that this is to give some protection to anyone receiving the copies from legal issues. If they didn't know they were classified then they have some defence if prosecuted.

That the page numbers are also removed is just an unfortunate by-product.

enter image description here

  • Interesting view on this, the "TOP SCERET" indication is a detail I have not considered. May 17, 2018 at 22:57
  • 1
    It's stated explicitly in the movie. When the Post staff are unpacking the papers at Bradlee's house, someone complains that there are no page numbers, and Bagdikian says "Yeah, that's where the top secret stamps were. My source had to cut 'em off." Jun 11, 2018 at 0:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .