MRC Remembers Media's 'Rewriting Ronald Reagan' With Special Report

As the nation prepares to pay tribute to former President Ronald Reagan on the 100th anniversary of his birth on February 6, it is amazing to consider that his success at turning the U.S. away from 1960s-style liberalism was accomplished in the face of a daily wave of news media hostility. The media’s first draft of history was more myth than reality: that Reagan only brought the nation poverty, ignorance, bankruptcy, and a dangerously imbalanced foreign and defense policy.

The Media Research Center has assembled a report documenting the “objective” national media’s most biased takes on President Reagan, his record and his times. It's now posted at MRC.org (complete with PDF), including 22 video clips and matching MP3 audio:

I. Reagan the Man: Reporters often agonized over why the American public liked Reagan, that they couldn’t see through the White House spell and see Reagan in the contemptuous light that the media did.

II. The Reaganomics Recovery: Reagan’s policies caused a dramatic economic turn-around from high inflation and unemployment to steady growth, but the good news was obscured by bad news of trade deficits, greedy excesses of the rich, and supposedly booming homelessness.

III. Reagan and National Defense: Ronald Reagan may have won the Cold War, but to the media, the Reagan defense buildup seemed like a plot designed to deny government aid to the poor and hungry, and was somehow the only spending responsible for “bankrupting” the country.

IV. Reagan and Race: Using their definition of “civil rights” — anything which adds government-mandated advantages for racial minorities is “civil rights” progress — liberal journalists suggested that somehow Ronald Reagan was against liberty for minorities.

V. The Reagan Legacy: The media painted the Reagan era as a horrific time of low ethics, class warfare on the poor, and crushing government debt.

EXTRA: Reagan, Slammed by Celebrities. Ronald Reagan’s long Hollywood career earned him no credit among celebrities, who ridiculed him and even inserted anti-Reagan jokes into everyday entertainment programming.

Our introduction contemplates Reagan's amazing record:

As America marks the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, stories abound of the man and the President — his leadership and vision, his humanity and optimism, his deep love of country and belief in the power of freedom. But any measure of his accomplishments has to begin by noting his unique placement in history as a firmly conservative president arriving at the end of an era dominated by liberalism — in both parties. Everything he accomplished he did by the force of his personality and words, aiming to pick up easily embarrassed moderate Republicans as well as conservative Democrats. Everything he changed he managed to do against a daily wave of news media hostility to his agenda.

Think of everything Reagan did, and then add: He did it all before Fox News. He did it all before the Rush Limbaugh phenomenon. He did it all before the instant battle cry of his defenders could hit the Internet. He did it all before C-SPAN caught on and people could enjoy the game of watching entire speeches and debates and then observing how the network tricksters discombobulated them into liberal hatchet jobs. He did it all when the only conservative regular on the big networks was ABC’s George Will, who appeared once weekly as a panelist on This Week with David Brinkley.

In the prologue to his book on Reagan, Dinesh D’Souza captured the flavor of how Reagan was greeted by the Washington establishment. Everything Reagan sought to accomplish seemed ludicrous and uneducated to the long-standing liberal consensus. Tax cuts would be wildly inflationary. A foreign policy based on the radical notion that Communism should be put on the ash heap of history was dismissed as a bellicose fantasy too dangerous for the nuclear age. At the end of it all, Reagan was the wise man, and all his detractors — Democrats and ersatz Republicans, political scientists and economists, “Sovietologists” and journalists — were the dummies.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis