Smearing Reagan

Christopher Ruddy
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2003

When CBS airs its two-part made-for-TV movie “The Reagans” next month, its biased picture of the Reagans will be no surprise to many of us.

Media anger with the Reagans is nothing new. In fact, it’s ancient history. Reagan beat the liberals, was proven right on most of his arguments, and most Americans hold him, not them, in high regard.

For sure, the liberal media had been trying to destroy the Reagan image for decades now, well before he became president.

But somehow the facts of history are much stronger than the biased writing of history.

Reagan’s results live on and offer a testament to his life more than any CBS docudrama can.

Perhaps the strong emotion over this film is underscored by the fact that Reagan is gravely ill. He is cared for by his loyal wife, Nancy, now 82 years old. Such caregiving is tremendous burden on Mrs. Reagan.

Why at this time CBS would want to air a movie depicting Reagan as uncaring and his wife in the least sympathetic of ways? And why a movie that makes up things about the Reagans?

Tuesday night on Fox News Channel, Alan Colmes defended the film by citing a litany of positive things the movie says about Ronald Reagan.

It would be hard to believe that CBS could do a movie and not report some of the positive things Reagan accomplished. But like many media, it is focusing on issues such as Reagan’s strained relationship with his children, or in other case making up stuff, that undermines the public’s view of Reagan.

According to press reports, the movie depicts Reagan as intolerant and uncaring, particularly toward gays and those who suffered from AIDS. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

It was the Reagan administration that began the greatest amount of spending on AIDS research and prevention in history.

It is also true that Reagan had spent his life fighting, among other things, racism, beginning with his days as a college student.

The real story is that the media are so hell-bent on rewriting the history of Reagan that they want to undermine his legacy to give Americans a distorted version of the truth.

If a movie were really made about Reagan, it would show that the media bias and the judgment of historians have been wrong. Far from being an uncaring, inconsiderate or an aloof president, as the liberals claim, evidence shows Reagan was just the opposite.

Recently published books show that Reagan was highly intelligent, studied issues deeply, knew exactly what his agenda was and implemented his ideas with great care and consideration.

One recent book that substantiates this is the compilation of Reagan’s letters during his public life, as an actor, politician and citizen.

“Reagan: A Life in Letters” reveals that he was intimately concerned and knowledgeable about the issues.

Another book published in recent years was “Reagan in His Own Hand,” a compilation of Reagan’s writings that were just recently discovered.

The documents show that he had written almost of all of his speeches, columns and radio commentaries before he became president in 1980.

The way the media play it, Reagan was just a mannequin actor and read a script. But this book proves he wrote almost everything that went out under his name before he became president.

The papers also show that Reagan was not only an excellent writer and editor, but also an excellent researcher. Many of his commentaries, articles and speeches quoted scholarly journals that are not even read by the so-called elites.

Reagan came from an era when it was unseemly to showboat compassion, faith or even intelligence. Instead, he wanted his acts to speak for themselves.

I had the pleasure of viewing not only some of the letters that went into “Reagan: A Life in Letters” – his letters to others – but some of the letters he had received from others.

The archive contains thousands of letters Reagan solicited from world leaders and ordinary people.

The letters, some from people such as Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and others, made clear that Reagan was very actively involved in consulting others for advice.

He was always fond of saying there is no limit to success if you don’t worry about who gets credit. So I don’t think he would be angry at the CBS movie that fails to credit him.

We know that Reagan should be credited for the greatest economic boom in American history, restoring America’s confidence after the malaise of Jimmy Carter, restoring America’s military might and bringing down the Iron Curtain.

Reagan might not be so concerned about the history rewrites, but we should be unhappy that the media continue to try to spin history for their own purposes.