If Any Talk of Reagan on Rushmore, Koppel Promises Media Attack --6/14/2004
2. Donaldson: Reagan Nice, But Would Kill School Lunches for Kids
3. Jennings: Gingrich "Less Civil" Than Reagan Would've Approved Of
4. Rather Concedes Befuddlement Over Why Reagan Admired Coolidge
5. Brokaw Declares "People of Color" Not "Beneficiaries" of Reagan
6. NY Times' Apple Delivers Left-Wing Anti-Reagan Spin as Fact
7. Russert: "There's No Doubt, He Stood Up and Ended the Cold War"
8. 1981 NBC Story Frets Reagan "Perceived as Too Rough on the Poor"
9. CNN's Shaw Scolds Media for Missing the "Essences" of Reagan
10. Rather: "Sad to Lose Him, But We Are Happy to Remember Him"
Correction: The June 11 CyberAlert listed the incorrect MRC intern who accompanied us into the District to view Ronald Reagan's caisson pass by. It was Mary Fisher. Apparently interns all look alike to me.
A prediction or a threat? As the plane carrying the late President Reagan arrived back at Point Mugu Naval Air Station on Friday afternoon, Ted Koppel made it clear he was appalled at the suggestion that Reagan was the "greatest President of the 20th century," complaining that would mean "hopscotching him past Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Koppel predicted, or threatened, that if Reagan's "supporters try to raise to him to the very heights there, and perhaps find a place for him on Mount Rushmore," that the "controversial President" who had "fairly contentious issues" in his presidency which "we've more or less overlooked" this week, "will come back."
A bit past 4:30pm PDT (7:30pm EDT) on Friday night, as ABC (the only one of the broadcast networks to go live from 7:30 to 8pm EDT) showed the plane taxiing in at Point Mugu after its flight from Maryland, Ed Meese told anchor Peter Jennings that he thought the week's events were "a fitting tribute, I think, to probably the greatest President of the 20th century."
A few minutes later, at about 4:44pm PDT, Jennings turned to Ted Koppel, who had attended the service at the Washington National Cathedral, and Koppel complained that while he could hear what was being said at the service, he couldn't see anything from his vantage point.
But then, as ABC showed him in an inset from the DC bureau over a full screen look at the plane, Koppel got to what really bothered him: "The thought that is really upper-most in my mind is when I hear Ed Meese talking about Ronald Reagan as the greatest President of the 20th century, hopscotching him past Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think, as was the case when Ronald Reagan was President, when there was some fairly contentious issues and he was a fairly controversial President, we've more or less overlooked much of that over the past week. But I suspect as his friends and supporters try to raise to him to the very heights there, and perhaps find a place for him on Mount Rushmore, that some of that controversy and some of the debate will come back."
Responding to Charlie Gibson's request for some criticisms of Ronald Reagan, on Friday's three-hour Good Morning America, Sam Donaldson maintained that "there were two Ronald Reagans." One, a man who was "friendly, warm, everybody like him, he liked people," but "then there was Ronald Reagan the ideologue." Regurgitating an old Reagan-era media cliche, Donaldson argued that if you "were down on your luck," Reagan "would literally give you the shirt off his back, and then he'd sit down in his undershirt and he'd sign legislation throwing your kids off school lunch program, maybe your parents off Social Security, and of course the Welfare Queen off of welfare."
At about 8:30am EDT Friday, the MRC's Jessica Anderson noticed, Gibson worried the media were being too positive about Reagan, asking Donaldson: "Tell me, because a lot of people have said in the last five days, Sam, is this too much? What happened? Where was all the criticisms of Ronald Reagan? What happened to those? Did they all go away?"
Donaldson eagerly filled in the supposed gap: "Well, there were two Ronald Reagans. There was Ronald Reagan the man -- friendly, warm, everybody like him, he liked people, he would comfort people when they were grieving, and all of that -- and then there was Ronald Reagan the ideologue who had things he wanted to do, and you can't separate the two. You know, I used to say I thought if you were down on your luck and you got through the Secret Service, got in the Oval Office and said, 'Mr. President, I'm down on my luck,' he would literally give you the shirt off his back, and then he'd sit down in his undershirt and he'd sign legislation throwing your kids off school lunch program, maybe your parents off Social Security, and of course the Welfare Queen off of welfare."
Just because a function sounds good and helpful doesn't mean it's best for the government to create a program to do it.
Following the Washington National Cathedral service for Ronald Reagan, ABC's Peter Jennings criticized former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for "bringing to Washington a far more cantankerous and aggressive, and even less civil politics than Ronald Reagan necessarily would have approved of," but moments later he fondly relayed how he was thinking of how former President Clinton "was so happy in churches and in chapels, large and small, sitting there with his eyes closed today, listening to The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
At about 1:19pm EDT, the MRC's Jessica Anderson observed, as Newt Gingrich exited the National Cathedral, Jennings opined: "That's Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, a man with a huge sense of American history. Has most recently written an interesting novel based on Gettysburg, but gets also credit, if that's the word for it, for bringing to Washington a far more cantankerous and aggressive, and even less civil politics than Ronald Reagan necessarily would have approved of, in terms of the Gingrich leadership here."
As I recall, Gingrich was ever as much the victim of hostile attacks, many from the media, as he was any kind of offender.
Fifteen minutes later Jennings offered a more upbeat remembrance of Bill Clinton: "As we now look at what is now an almost empty Cathedral, I'm thinking of President Clinton who was so happy in churches and in chapels, large and small, sitting there with his eyes closed today, listening to The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
CBS's Dan Rather conceded Friday night that he "never understood" why the late President Ronald Reagan "would think that Calvin Coolidge was such a good President" when "historians see him as one of the, I won't say architects of the Depression, but certainly not a very good President?"
Rather's confession, to which the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me, came at about 6:25pm PDT (9:25pm EDT) as he filled time with former Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins and Reagan biographer Edmund Morris, as they all awaited the arrival of the hearse at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Over various shots of the hearse traveling down roads and of the band playing for the waiting guests, this exchange took place off camera, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Rather: "But back to his own favorite Presidents, did he discuss anyone at any length besides Franklin Roosevelt, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt?"
Of course, FDR was the real "architect of the Depression," given his inability to end it for eight years.
I see Coolidge as the last decent Governor of Massachusetts, but for conservatives who admire Coolidge, such as columnist Bob Novak, I believe it's because of how he saw a limited role for government and pushed through a big tax cut.
Wrapping up coverage on Wednesday night after the service in the Capitol's Rotunda, NBC's Tom Brokaw acknowledged that "the vast majority" agreed with Reagan's vision of America as "a city on a hill," but he cautioned that the "city shining on a hill does not apply to everyone in America. There are disenfranchised people as well, people of color who were not the beneficiaries of Ronald Reagan's administration."
In fact, as the MRC's Tim Graham noted in a soon-to-be released MRC Special Report on journalistic attacks on Reagan, even the liberal Joint Center for Political Studies estimated the black middle class grew by one-third from 1980 to 1988, from 3.6 million to 4.8 million. In addition, black employment from 1982 to 1987 grew twice as fast (up 24.9 percent) as white employment. Real black median family income rose 12.7 percent from 1981 to 1987, 46 percent faster than whites.
Nonetheless, at about 8:20pm EDT on June 9, as Brokaw closed NBC's coverage of the Rotunda ceremony, he observed, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoff Dickens:
(A radio talk show host in a major market e-mailed us to alert us to Brokaw's remark, but at the moment I cannot remember who.)
That wasn't the first time Brokaw brought up Reagan's supposed insensitivity to the plight of the "disenfranchised." The June 9 CyberAlert recounted: Hours after the Philadelphia Inquirer hit newsstands on Tuesday with Tom Brokaw's argument that "the Reagan legacy has some scandals," including "his failure to recognize early on the AIDS epidemic," the NBC Nightly News featured an interview with Michael Deaver, to whom Brokaw proposed that "retrospectives" of the Reagan presidency assert "that he was not nearly as sensitive to the disenfranchised in America, the poor people, especially African-Americans." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Several times this past week ABC's Peter Jennings has raised how many blacks did not and do not admire Reagan. The June 10 CyberAlert reported: 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." 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." See: www.mediaresearch.org
The June 11 CyberAlert suggested ABC's Peter Jennings just can't let a moment pass without pointing out how Ronald Reagan was not popular with African-Americans. On Thursday's Good Morning America, Jennings delivered liberal cliches as he asserted that at the end of Reagan's presidency "a great many people thought he'd made the wealthy wealthier and had not improved life particularly for the middle class, and there were just occasional intrusions yesterday of the divisiveness which was evident during his presidency, particularly in the African-American community, which felt that Ronald Reagan had not given it their due." See: www.mediaresearch.org
In a front page look Friday at Ronald Reagan's potential legacy, New York Times veteran R.W. "Johnny" Apple, the long-time Washington Bureau Chief who has since moved on, dismissed Reagan's role in ending the Cold War as coincidence, since "he came to power as the Cold War was nearing a denouement," arguing "it was the result of 45 years of aggressive allied containment, but," Apple grudgingly conceded, "the commander in chief, as always, got much of the credit."
(Since "denouement" is not a commonly used word, for the benefit of those who don't know what it means, here's the definition provided by the Oxford Pocket Dictionary built-in to WordPerfect: "The final part of a play, film, or narrative in which matters are explained or resolved.")
Apple also delivered left-wing spin on imaginary budget cuts as if it were fact: "Much of the country, including most of those who are physically, economically or otherwise disadvantaged, deeply resented and still resent his insistence that government is the problem, not the solution. Severe and continuing cutbacks in government services to the poor and vulnerable resulted, and the gulf dividing rich from poor widened."
Below is a reprint of an article, posted on TimesWatch.org, by the MRC's Clay Waters, who edits the site, about the June 11 Apple treatise:
Longtime political essayist R.W. Apple dropped his fork long enough to file a "Washington Letter" essay on Ronald Reagan -- and took the knife to the former president's policies.
"Legacy of Reagan Now Begins the Test of Time" dominated Friday's front page with more backhanded compliments on Reagan's sunny "geniality" and praise for his tax-raising "pragmatism." Yet Apple despaired of Reagan's "severe and continuing [Editor's note: and nonexistent] cutbacks in government services to the poor and vulnerable."
Apple wrote: "It could be argued that Mr. Reagan's greatest triumphs came in his role as chief of state rather than as chief of government. He was often ignorant of or impatient with the policy minutiae that preoccupy most occupants of the Oval Office, sometimes with unfortunate consequences (as when Oliver North ran amok in the Iran-contra affair, for instance). But his extraordinary political gifts carried him through -- his talents as a communicator, his intuitive understanding of the average American, his unfailing geniality even after being hit by a would-be assassin's bullet, his ability to build and sustain friendships across partisan lines (as with Tip O'Neill, for instance)."
Apple then brings his dubious geopolitical expertise (he once compared the Afghanistan war to a Vietnam-style "quagmire") to the fore: "But he came to power as the cold war was nearing a denouement, and he did all he could to hasten the process by beefing up the American military and then, in Berlin, boldly challenging Soviet leaders to 'tear down this wall.' After that, it would have been hard for Mikhail S. Gorbachev to believe that Americans had lost their will to resist Soviet power, and he joined with Mr. Reagan to bring the long struggle to a conclusion. It was the result of 45 years of aggressive allied containment, but the commander in chief, as always, got much of the credit."
Again, the Times refused to give Reagan credit for winning the Cold War. And was it common knowledge that "the cold war was nearing a denouement?" Reagan believed it, but hardly anyone else did. And Jimmy Carter as fierce Cold Warrior just doesn't fly.
Then there was more Times praise for Reagan the tax-raiser: "Few will deny Mr. Reagan's trustworthiness or his immense charisma, matched only in the modern era by F.D.R. and John F. Kennedy, and he demonstrated his pragmatism in rolling back some of his huge 1981 tax cuts with two tax increases when the cuts failed to produce as much revenue as he expected."
It's an old theme for Apple. In 1993, while serving as the Times Washington bureau chief, he wrote of President Clinton's new tax plan: "...the package comes nowhere close to undoing Ronald Reagan's tax breaks for the wealthy. It leaves the tax burden in the United States far less onerous than those in most other Western nations. If the electorate is as serious as it tells itself it is about eliminating the deficit and cutting the national debt, it will eventually have to accept far more than this modest effort to increase revenues."
On Friday Apple penned: "Much of the country, including most of those who are physically, economically or otherwise disadvantaged, deeply resented and still resent his insistence that government is the problem, not the solution. Severe and continuing cutbacks in government services to the poor and vulnerable resulted, and the gulf dividing rich from poor widened."
Of course, as the raging federal deficits showed, those cutbacks, "severe" or not, never came about, except in the minds of Reagan's liberal foes.
"Many missed Mr. Carter's burning commitment to civil rights and liberties at home and human rights abroad. African-Americans and trade union members felt particularly aggrieved, as did many Jews, who resented Mr. Reagan's participation in a ceremony in 1985 at a German cemetery where Nazi SS troopers were buried."
Well, there's at least one trade union (Polish Solidarity, which was in the forefront of the fight against Soviet Communist tyranny) that might disagree with Apple's assessment of Reagan's supposed indifference to human rights abroad. And what of the Latin American countries that became democracies under Reagan's watch?
Apple sniffed that Reaganism was a dead-end: "His brand of radical conservatism had a counterpart in Britain under Margaret Thatcher, but it has achieved little success elsewhere." LBJ's liberal "Great Society" is more to Apple's liking: "Vietnam blackened Lyndon B. Johnson's reputation and forced him from office, despite his tremendous achievements in domestic policy, notably in lifting the cruel yoke of segregation from black Americans."
For the rest of Apple's sour reminiscence of Reagan: www.nytimes.com
END of Reprint from TimesWatch.org
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NBC's Tim Russert declared as a fact that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, full credit which others in the media have been reluctant to assign (see Apple in item #6 above and how CBS's Dan Rather, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, asserted that Reagan "helped to end the Cold War but he didn't do it alone. Tonight, how Reagan and Gorbachev together stepped back from the nuclear abyss.") On Friday's Today, Russert predicted that "history will include" some of "the downsides," such as deficits and Iran/Contra, but "there's no doubt. He stood up and ended the Cold War, in fact."
The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught this exchange on the June 11 Today as Katie Couric cued up Russert: "Well, an extraordinary show of unity in the country this week, out of respect to former President Ronald Reagan. When does that end?"
Bias flashback. In a story on the NBC Nightly News in February of 1981, Judy Woodruff, now with CNN, reported that White House officials were "growing worried that the President's economic package is being perceived as too rough on the poor." As if distorted media portrayals had nothing to do with such a perception.
At midnight EDT Friday night/Saturday morning, MSNBC re-played a NBC News prime time special from early February 1981, narrated by David Brinkley, in which NBC cameras spent a day in the White House with the then-new President.
Retired CNN correspondent Bernard Shaw on Friday afternoon scolded his media colleagues for the poor job they did during the Reagan presidential years in covering how much he was in command, and not a puppet of staffers, and how solidly he connected with average Americans. Standing outside the Washington National Cathedral, Shaw contended that the media "failed to thoroughly cover and communicate the very essences we're talking about, possessed by Ronald Reagan. What I've been reading and what I've been hearing, I did not get during his two terms in office." Current CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer agreed.
The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught Shaw's rebuke, which came after the service, as CNN's Paula Zahn, Jeff Greenfield and Wolf Blitzer, all off-camera, and an on-camera Shaw, standing in front of the cathedral in a shot placed into a small inset on the left side of CNN's screen, discussed the outpouring of emotion from the public which came out in greater than expected numbers to honor Reagan and how post-death reporting documented that he was much more "engaged," as Zahn put it, in policy decisions than was previously acknowledged.
At about 1:38pm EDT Shaw, who attended the service at the invitation of Nancy Reagan, interjected: "Can I say something that touches at a very sensitive issue?"
Maybe journalists wouldn't be so surprised by Reagan's abilities and popularity if they hadn't assumed liberal caricatures of Reagan were accurate.
A few minutes later, at about 1:45pm EDT, Shaw said he does not think there's been too much coverage of Reagan's death and he passed along how he reflexively saluted Reagan's casket: "Wolf, you asked what I felt inside the National Cathedral, when the President's coffin entered National Cathedral, I, and everybody else, as it passed, and as Mrs. Reagan passed us, placed a hand over my heart. But when the coffin was being brought by the honor guard up the aisle to go past, the old Marine in me -- being a former Marine -- came over me, and I saluted. My hand just went up, it's as if it had a life all its own. My arm just went up and I saluted it as he passed by. But no, I don't think this coverage is overdone."
For a picture of Shaw, and an overview of his career, which ended as co-anchor of Inside Politics, see this CNN posting about his retirement in late 2000: www.cnn.com
CBS's Dan Rather signed-off Friday night with a generous tribute to Ronald Reagan: "Yes, we are sad to lose him, but we are happy to remember him. As they say in some of those old Hollywood movies, 'and so as the sun slowly sets in the West,' we say good-bye to Ronald Reagan. Thanks for the memories, Mr. President."
Less than two minutes before 8pm PDT (11pm EDT), following the service outside the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, as CBS showed attendees walking by Reagan's casket as the sun set over the mountains in the distance, Rather concluded CBS News coverage with this moving tribute:
-- Brent Baker