ABC's Jennings Repeatedly Raises How Blacks Didn't Like Reagan --6/10/2004
2. CNN's Cooper and Gupta Bemoan Reagan's Indifference to AIDS
3. Four Major Papers and AP Rail Against Reagan's Policies
A day of cheap political swipes at inappropriate times. As the late President Reagan's hearse arrived at the tarmac at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, ABC's Peter Jennings brought up how "we haven't seen many African-American faces up at the presidential library or this morning." George Stephanopoulos agreed, asserting that Reagan "did not reach out to African-Americans." Stephanopoulos raised how the gay and lesbian community is "quite upset with President Reagan" for "never mentioning the word AIDS as that epidemic started to race through America."
At about the same time on CBS, Dan Rather seemed to bring up the long-discredited "October Surprise" theory that the 1980 Reagan campaign convinced the Iranians to not release the hostages until after the election. Dan Rather asked Ed Rollins: "There has been some controversy over the years" about how "the moment that President Reagan was inaugurated back here on the West steps of the Capitol, the Iranians released the hostages. What do you know about that?"
Later in the day, as casket-bearers carried Reagan's body up the Capitol steps while a military band played the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Jennings decided it was a good time to point out how analysts have "not talked a lot yet about his relationship to African-Americans." An hour later, just after the memorial service ended, Sam Donaldson recalled how Reagan "honored fallen heroes" with trips to comfort the families of those killed in service. Donaldson added: "Now I don't know what Ronald Reagan would say about today's policy of not allowing news coverage of the flag-draped coffins of our heroes from Iraq. I can only tell you what he did."
Fuller versions of the quotes summarized above, in time sequence as they occurred on Wednesday, June 9:
-- 9:13am PDT/12:13pm EDT: Just as hearse arrived at Point Mugu, Peter Jennings asserted: "It is an appropriate time I think to talk somewhat about the, the differences of opinion that were so strong in the country at the time, and as you alluded a little bit this morning, and we haven't seen many African-American faces up at the presidential library or this morning, that the black community particularly in America has less time for the President than other constituencies."
-- 9:14am PDT/12:14pm EDT: As the hearse approached the airplane, CBS's Dan Rather asked Ed Rollins, Reagan's 1984 campaign manager: "There has been some controversy over the years, not directed at President Reagan personally. But the Iranians were holding the hostages and as soon -- and I mean the moment that President Reagan was inaugurated back here on the West steps of the Capitol, the Iranians released the hostages. What do you know about that?"
-- 7:18pm EDT/4:18pm PDT: As the casket-bearers were in the middle of the second leg of carrying the casket up the steps of West front of the Capitol, and as a military band played the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," the camera zoomed in on a homemade poster: "God Speed Mr. Reagan."
Jennings decided it was a good time to point out: "There is so much to say about Ronald Reagan today and so much to talk about. 'God speed' indeed. We've talked about his optimism and his modesty, his equanimity and his persistence. Not talked a lot yet about his relationship to African-Americans. Not heard much on this particular day -- seems appropriate -- from his critics."
So if it's not appropriate at that time, why did Jennings bring it up?
-- 8:17pm EDT/5:17 PDT: Just after the memorial service in the Capitol's rotunda had ended, as attendees were filing out, Jennings went to his team for some parting thoughts. Sam Donaldson, in an inset, recalled: "One of the aspects on Ronald Reagan's Americanism I remember so well is the way he honored fallen heroes. Just as we honor our former Commandeer-in-Chief today. He'd go out to Andrews Air Force Base one June and he pinned medals of the flag-draped coffins of Marines who'd been killed in El Salvador. Went down to Fort Campbell Kentucky. He comforted families and honored the dead, a terrible plane crash of troops that had come back from the Sinai. Went to Camp Lejuene, remember, when the Marines were blown up in Lebanon? He believed in doing that and doing it publicly. Now I don't know what Ronald Reagan would say about today's policy of not allowing news coverage of the flag-draped coffins of our heroes from Iraq. I can only tell you what he did."
I think we know what Donaldson thinks.
On Tuesday night CNN devoted a segment of Anderson Cooper 360 to how, as CNN's Dr, Sanjay Gupta put it, throughout his presidency "many would accuse President Reagan of ignoring AIDS," as if Reagan talking about it would have done more to prevent it than those in the homosexual community modifying their unsafe sex practices. Leading into a Reagan clip from 1987, Gupta complained that "the first time President Reagan would utter the word AIDS in public would be well into his second term, six years after the virus was discovered." In fact, Reagan talked about AIDS in 1985 and cited it repeatedly in his 1986 State of the Union address. Gupta relayed how one "AIDS activist" believes "the administration avoided AIDS all those years because of homophobia."
Interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, Cooper pointed out how "the San Francisco Chronicle said that Ronald Reagan was guilty, and I quote, of a 'shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS.'" When Fauci wasn't sufficiently anti-Reagan, Cooper reminded him: "The criticism is that earlier on in 1981 or '82, they had been more vocal they might have made a difference. I think part of the anger, too, is that Reagan's communication director, Pat Buchanan, you know, was quoted as saying in print that AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals."
Unmentioned by CNN, how, as Deroy Murdock conveyed on National Review Online: "In a Congressional Research Service study titled 'AIDS Funding for Federal Government Programs: FY1981-FY1999,' author Judith Johnson found that overall, the federal government spent $5.727 billion on AIDS under Ronald Reagan. This higher number reflects President Reagan's proposals as well as additional expenditures approved by Congress that he later signed."
For Murdock's piece, which quotes Reagan's comments about AIDS in 1985 and 1986, as well as how Patti Davis denied her father was any kind of homophobe: www.nationalreview.com
(Cooper's segment on Reagan and AIDS aired the same night, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, that he devoted a story to the suddenly wise Nancy Reagan for opposing President Bush on stem cell research. He introduced that story: "Well, as President Bush remembers Ronald Reagan, he is also reminding America of his admiration of the Republican icon and of course, Reagan's wife Nancy, as well. But there is one sticky subject where the president and the wife of the former president part company, stem cell research. It is an anathema to many conservatives, but to a woman who just lost her beloved husband to Alzheimer's, it is a topic that transcends 'Raw Politics.'")
Cooper set up his June 8 critical look at Reagan and AIDS: "Ronald Reagan was famous for facing the enemy unblinkingly, at least, the political enemy, but some enemies are not so big as the Soviet Union and it's one, a microscopic one, where some say the former president blinked. This is a medical story and so it's reported tonight by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta."
Gupta, CNN's medical correspondent, began: "Six months after Ronald Reagan became President, the Centers for Disease Control released an alarming report. Five healthy young homosexual men had Pneumocystis carinii, that's an uncommon pneumonia. Only months later the cause of their pneumonia would be given a name: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Throughout the rest of his presidency many would accuse President Reagan of ignoring AIDS."
Cooper: "There is still, of course, much anger in many communities. Joining me from Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Fauci, thanks for being with us tonight. Dr. Fauci, the San Francisco Chronicle said that Ronald Reagan was guilty, and I quote, of a 'shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS.' If he had been more vocal and compassionate early on would it have made a difference?"
As if a coordinated attack on Ronald Reagan's image, on Wednesday four major newspapers and the AP featured stories which relayed liberal attacks on Ronald Reagan's policies, particularly centered on the views of liberal black leaders and AIDS activists. Wednesday's CyberAlert dissected the Washington Post's front page story, "Schisms from Administration Lingered for Years," but Wednesday also brought these other front page stories: In the New York Times, "Critics See a Reagan Legacy Tainted by AIDS, Civil Rights and Union Policies," in the Los Angeles Times, "For Some, Unpleasant Memories: Blacks, gays remember Reagan with bitterness, saying he neglected the poor and lacked leadership as the AIDS epidemic exploded" and in the Chicago Tribune, "Liberals may mourn man, but not the Reagan years." Plus, the AP distributed an article titled, "Many Still Troubled by Reagan's Legacy."
With this howler, the AP's Beth Fouhy sounded more like James Carville than any kind of even-handed journalist: "By persuading Congress to approve sweeping tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing welfare benefits and other social services like the federal housing assistance program, Reagan was blamed for a huge surge in the nation's poor and homeless population."
The June 9 CyberAlert summarized the Washington Post article: Wednesday's front page featured a story which complained that "the lavish praise obscures that much of Reagan's record through eight years in office was highly controversial and intensified social and political divisions." Post reporters Eric Pianin and Thomas Edsall did little more than regurgitate left-wing spin points from the 1980s intended to discredit Reagan, particularly on race relations, and they adopted the ridiculous notion that federal spending on social programs was somehow cut during the Reagan years. The Post duo cited "attacks on the federal school lunch program and aid to the poor," how Reagan's "toughest budget cuts" hurt "large numbers of lower-income black families" the most. Plus, the Post highlighted the ketchup as a vegetable tale and how "the administration showed indifference to an emerging AIDS crisis in the early 1980s." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Rich Noyes noticed the Wednesday trend and Tim Graham provided summaries and links to the June 9 anti-Reagan stories:
-- The New York Times story was described Wednesday by Clay Waters of the MRC's TimesWatch.org site:
Looks like the sympathy period for Reagan is over in Timesland, judging by Wednesday's story from the familiar tag team of Robert Pear and Robin Toner, "Critics See a Reagan Legacy Tainted by AIDS, Civil Rights and Union Policies."
Here's the opening: "Despite Ronald Reagan's personal popularity, his domestic agenda was in many ways bitterly polarizing. Then, as now, conservatives hailed his tax cuts, his stirring defense of traditional values and his commitment to getting government 'off the backs' of the American people. But many liberals and progressives see his domestic legacy very differently, particularly on AIDS, civil rights, reproductive rights and poverty. Though clearly sympathetic to Mr. Reagan's family, they are still angry over his policies, which they assert reflected the unbridled influence of social conservatives."
Here's the closing, courtesy of a Republican hater: "But Julian Bond, chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., said, 'Everyone wants to extend sympathy to his family, but when you remember the actual record, it's a very, very different story.'"
END of Excerpt from TimesWatch.org
For the posting of Clay's summary: www.timeswatch.org
In between the opening and closing, the Times gave Reagan-defenders a few quotes, but the article mainly focused on anti-Reagan critics. For the story in full: www.nytimes.com
-- The Los Angeles Times story was headlined "For Some, Unpleasant Memories: Blacks, gays remember Reagan with bitterness, saying he neglected the poor and lacked leadership as the AIDS epidemic exploded." An excerpt from the top of reporter Richard Fausset's story from a poor urban black neighborhood in south Los Angeles:
While the first adoring crowds were lining up to view the casket of former President Ronald Reagan near Simi Valley, Bill Williams was 50 miles away in South Los Angeles, getting ready for the lunch crowd at Speedy & Gwen's Bar-B-Que on Western Avenue near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Martha and the Vandellas were playing over the loudspeakers, and Williams wasn't giving much thought to the Great Communicator.
The 55-year-old maintenance man said he didn't like to see anybody die. But Reagan, he said, "didn't care nothin' for blacks. That's the bottom line."
Reagan's death Saturday unleashed a flood of fond remembrances and stirring tributes from around the globe.
More than 105,000 mourners have flocked to Reagan's presidential library to pass by his flag-draped coffin, and thousands more are expected to pay their respects when his body lies in state Thursday at the Capitol rotunda.
But in pockets of Los Angeles, Reagan's hometown, and in the cafes of West Hollywood -- a city only minutes from the Reagans' Bel-Air estate -- his death stirred memories of the often divisive policies of his 1980s administration.
Many African Americans like Williams remain bitter over Reagan's perceived neglect of the poor. And many gay men like playwright Jon Bastian still feel Reagan "did nothing, basically" about the AIDS epidemic that exploded during his eight years as president.
"I keep hearing people say, 'Reagan changed America,' and he did," Bastian said. "But the thing is, he didn't change it for the better."
The former actor's laissez-faire approach to domestic issues - and his famous declaration at his first inaugural address that "government is the problem" -- won over a large majority of American voters who agreed that the federal government had grown too powerful. It also angered liberal voters.
AIDS activists said Reagan did too little to combat the epidemic, and criticized the president for waiting until 1987 -- six years after the discovery of AIDS -- to deliver his first major speech on the subject.
Reagan's philosophy made political enemies among African Americans, who recalled the federal government's role in ending segregation. Reagan also angered blacks when he refused to support harsh sanctions against apartheid South Africa -- though he denounced apartheid itself -- and flirted with the idea of weakening the Voting Rights Act.
At a conference of big-city mayors, Reagan made headlines for failing to recognize the only black member of his Cabinet, Samuel R. Pierce, greeting him, "Hello, Mr. Mayor."
Pierce replied, "I'm a member of your Cabinet, Mr. President."
END of Excerpt
Fausset did balance the unverified claims of Reagan inaction and spending cuts a bit, with a black minister who endorsed Reagan in 1984 and an elderly gay Republican who doesn't blame Reagan for the AIDS outbreak.
For the LA Times article in its entirety: www.latimes.com
-- "Liberals may mourn man, but not the Reagan years," declared the Chicago Tribune headline as the paper at least used the L word. An excerpt from the article by reporters Mike Dorning and Rudolph Bush, who focused on the subdued Reagan reaction from the poor southeast Washington D.C. neighborhood of Anacostia:
....The death of the celebrated conservative leader has been received in this inner-city neighborhood of shuttered shop windows and shattered dreams in much the same way that residents here feel Reagan treated the urban poor while he was president: with indifference.
The mid-1980s economic boom that much of the country fondly associates with Reagan passed by Anacostia -- a poverty-plagued, mostly African-American community separated by a polluted river from the gleaming white-marble buildings that hold the seats of American political power.
Their feelings about Reagan find strong echoes throughout liberal America, which decries Reagan's policies while expressing sympathy at his death. Though he won powerful majorities -- including a 49-state rout in 1984 -- a substantial segment of the public also strongly disagreed with him on education, the environment, abortion and civil rights, views that now help to complete a fuller portrait of the 40th president."...
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.chicagotribune.com
-- The AP headlined its story, by San Francisco-based Beth Fouhy, "Many Still Troubled by Reagan's Legacy." Fouhy forwarded every liberal complaint as objective truth.
She led: "As one of the first physicians to confront AIDS when it began its rampage through the gay community, Dr. Marcus Conant lobbied the Reagan administration in 1982 to launch an emergency campaign to educate Americans about the disease.
Fouhy added: "Despite the accolades lavished upon Reagan since his death Saturday -- for ending the Cold War, for restoring the nation's optimism -- his many detractors remember him as a right-wing ideologue beholden to monied interests and insensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable Americans."
Her story seemed like a time-machine flashback to the biased coverage of the 1980s: "Elected on a promise to slash taxes and crack down on freeloading 'welfare queens,' Reagan depicted government as wasteful and minimized its capacity to help people, ideas that survive today. Reagan also dealt a blow to organized labor by firing the striking air traffic controllers, and appointed Antonin Scalia, still the Supreme Court's most conservative jurist."
She lamented: "Reagan's weakening of the social safety net by dismantling longtime Democratic 'Great Society' programs arguably vexes his critics the most. By persuading Congress to approve sweeping tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing welfare benefits and other social services like the federal housing assistance program, Reagan was blamed for a huge surge in the nation's poor and homeless population."
Fouhy even pulled the "far right" label, asserting that "activists point to Reagan's early silence on the AIDS crisis as doing the bidding of the far right, with devastating results. In San Francisco, the number of AIDS cases peaked during the Reagan administration. AIDS activist Rene Durazzo remembers it as a frightening time when 'chronic death' seemed to pervade the city streets."
The Fouhy report was listed among the "Most Popular" stories Wednesday on Yahoo.com's Daily News site: story.news.yahoo.com
# Tom Brokaw did not end up appearing on Wednesday night's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as the June 9 CyberAlert noted he was scheduled to do, I assume because Brokaw was in DC covering the Reagan procession at the tape of the 5:30pm taping.
-- Brent Baker