9/11 Reagan's Fault? CBS Suggests Tie to "Iran/Contra Debacle" --6/8/2004
2. In Reagan Coverage, ABC Raises Rodney King & "Voo-Doo Economics"
3. Olbermann Cites SDI's "Awful Legacy," 30 Reaganites Went to Jail
4. Exploiting Reagan's Death to Push Embryonic Stem Cell Research
5. Slate.com's Noah: "Pandering" Is Reagan's "Most Enduring Legacy"
Correction: For those counting at home, the June 6 and 7 CyberAlerts carried incorrect listings for the total number of CyberAlerts ever published. The June 6 edition was the 1,734th CyberAlert and the June 7 edition was the 1,735th CyberAlert.
9/11: Reagan's fault? CBS was first out of the blocks Monday night with a story on "blemishes" in Ronald Reagan's record as President, but instead of an even-handed review of Iran/Contra, Dan Rather and Bill Plante painted it in the most ominous light, implying that it somehow led to "the rise of Islamic fundamentalism." Rather asked: "Is or is not America still paying a price for what's called the Iran/Contra debacle?" Plante answered in the affirmative: "An arms control agreement with the Soviet Union refurbished President Reagan's image, but U.S. efforts to deal with the tough issues in the Middle East went on hold, helping to set the stage for the first Iraq war and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism."
Plante justified his conclusion by claiming Iran/Contra meant that "relations with Iran deteriorated further" and "Iraq, which the Reagan administration had backed in its war against Iran, went on to use chemical weapons in 1988 with little protest from the U.S."
So the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. AND Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons are both Reagan's fault?
Before an ad break on the June 7 CBS Evening News, Rather plugged the upcoming "Reality Check" on Reagan's legacy: "Straight ahead now on the CBS Evening News, President Reagan and the missiles-for-Iran deal. Is or is not America still paying a price for what's called the Iran/Contra debacle?"
Rather set up the subsequent story: "Ronald Reagan was and is one of the most popular Presidents in U.S. history, and with good reason: He accomplished a lot. That does not mean his record is without questions and, in fact, blemishes. Tonight, CBS's Bill Plante, who covered the Reagan White House, begins a week-long series assessing the Reagan legacy."
Plante began: "The most serious crisis of Ronald Reagan's two terms, and the lowest point in his popularity, came after the revelation that his administration had secretly sold arms to Iran and turned over the profits to rebels fighting the Marxist government of Nicaragua."
In Reagan coverage, ABC raised Rodney King and "voo-doo economics." In the midst of ABC's live coverage of Ronald Reagan lying in repose at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, Peter Jennings felt compelled to point out that "a great many people in the country know Simi Valley less for the presidential library than they do for it having been the scene of the trial of the officers who were accused in Los Angeles of beating the motorist Rodney King."
For World News Tonight, Sam Donaldson traveled to Maine to interview former President George H.W. Bush and couldn't resist reminding Bush of how during the 1980 primaries he disagreed with Reagan's policies: "Let's talk about the big one, Reaganomics! You thought it was voo-doo economics."
The comment by Jennings, which the MRC's Jessica Anderson caught, occurred at about 11:30am PDT (2:30pm EDT) just as Nancy and the Reagan family drove away from the library. Jennings asked Reagan biographer Lou Cannon about Reagan's wishes for burial, which will be on the grounds of the library. Cannon, off camera, recalled for Jennings: "Nancy Reagan said something interesting to me once about it. She said, I asked her about the site of the library and the burial place, and she said my husband had a preference for heights. And this is on, as you can see, a commanding height with this really lovely, very California view."
That somehow prompted this from Jennings: "A great many people in the country know Simi Valley less for the presidential library than they do for it having been the scene of the trial of the officers who were accused in Los Angeles of beating the motorist Rodney King."
For some small pictures of the view from the library: www.reaganlibrary.com
A photo of the "Berlin Wall terrace": www.reaganlibrary.com
The Web site for the city of Simi Valley, a locale of over 100,000 people in Ventura County, and the home of the Reagan library: www.ci.simi-valley.ca.us
Later, ABC's World News Tonight on Monday evening featured a taped interview piece of Donaldson with former President Bush at his Kennebunkport, Maine home. Donaldson's first question, in which he shouted out the word "Reaganomics":
Ronald Reagan "was far from perfect," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reminded his viewers Monday night as he recalled how "there was the Iran/Contra affair, the near tripling of the national debt, the fact that 30, count 'em 30, of his administration staffers would serve time in jail for bribery, corruption and influence peddling." Asking a guest about "Star Wars," Olbermann asserted "the reintroduction" of it by the Bush administration "was a higher priority in 2001 than was counter-terrorism," and so "is that going to be an awful legacy?"
In the opening tease for the June 7 Countdown, Olbermann announced: "The last moments of the Soviet Union attributed tonight to Ronald Reagan by the foreign leader who will give his eulogy, and recounted affectionately today by the man who led what once Reagan called 'the evil empire.' But he was far from perfect. This, too, was the 'Teflon President' and the 'Iran/Contra President' and the man who couldn't hear questions when he didn't want to..."
Setting up a session with University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, Olbermann recounted, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Olbermann asked Sabato: "Give us a head start on that. Put Iran-Contra into the context of the entire presidency. I mean, at one moment Mr. Reagan was saying, 'We did not, repeat, did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we.' And then next he had to admit we had. Did that, did that not cripple his presidency because of the subsequent speech that acknowledged responsibility for it?"
Olbermann proposed: "As that goes into the history books, will also the Star Wars defense system go in there? This drew huge criticism at the time. And, of course, as we know, the reintroduction of this was a higher priority in 2001 than was counter-terrorism. Is that going to be an awful legacy, or is there going to be a different context for that?"
Sabato responded by defending SDI, explaining how it put the Soviets on the defense as they realized they could not keep up with U.S. spending.
Leading journalists are exploiting Ronald Reagan's death to push for wider embryonic stem cell research as they emphasize how President George W. Bush is out of step with Nancy Reagan on the issue. Serious people have serious disagreements about the balancing of the hope stem cell research holds for curing Alzheimer's versus the misuse of human life, but to leading media figures it presents just another way to bash Bush.
On Sunday, Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales complained about how "Bush has refused to reconsider his opposition" to stem cell research, and ridiculed how "Bush thinks he hears Jesus giving him orders."
Monday morning on ABC's daytime show, The View, Barbara Walters assumed its beyond any dispute than Nancy Reagan has the correct position as she proclaimed that by fighting for stem cell research "she's going to change the lives of millions of people." Walters trumpeted how it's a "lasting contribution that she is making" and how "it's probably, maybe the most important contribution that she has made."
Highlighting how 58 Senators wrote a letter to President Bush urging him to support funding for "embryonic stem cell research, which could help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease," Brokaw mildly scolded the Senators for not using Ronald Reagan's name. The "Senators made the request last Friday," Brokaw noted, "the day before President Reagan died. And there was no mention of him in their letter. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has been actively promoting stem cell research."
"Out of her isolation, she found her cause," CBS's Sandra Hughes touted Monday night, "fighting for a cure. Recently, that's meant supporting stem cell research, putting her at odds with her own party."
More detail for the above quotes:
-- In a Sunday "Style" section review of Ronald Reagan's television persona, "On the World Stage, The White House's Best Actor," the Washington Post's Tom Shales took a gratuitous shot at President Bush:
Some hate Bush so much they've fallen into praising Reagan in contrast.
For the June 6 Shales piece in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Nancy Reagan "was not pro-choice"? I'm not so sure about that.
-- NBC Nightly News, June 7. Tom Brokaw reported: "And we learned today that 58 senators have asked President Bush to ease federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which could help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease. Senators made the request last Friday, the day before President Reagan died. And there was no mention of him in their letter. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has been actively promoting stem cell research. The White House said today that President Bush stands by his policy of not funding human embryo stem cell research."
-- CBS Evening News, Monday night, June 7. Dan Rather asserted: "Ronald Reagan eloquently told the nation he had Alzheimer's Disease a decade before his death. Today, in a letter, 58 U.S. Senators added their voices to that of Nancy Reagan, appealing for controversial stem cell research to try to find a cure for the disease. CBS's Sandra Hughes reports on frank talk from the Reagans and how it reflected the private agony of millions. It's tonight's 'Inside Story.'"
Hughes began, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "The former First Lady and one-time actress once said, 'Being his wife was the role I wanted most,' but as the love of her life faded away, Nancy Reagan took on a new role: advocate for Alzheimer's Disease."
After a clip of Nancy Reagan, Hughes continued: "Out of her isolation, she found her cause: fighting for a cure. Recently, that's meant supporting stem cell research, putting her at odds with her own party. She started out quietly writing letters to the White House and other anti-abortion conservatives who oppose federal funding. And last month, for the first time, she stepped out publicly to support stem cell research."
As if there were a contest over the most ridiculous headline, Microsoft's liberal Web site Slate.com superimposed, over a picture of a grinning Reagan in front of a flag, the words: "The Man Who Ruined Republicans." In the June 5 posting, Timothy Noah, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, set the liberal standard for harshness: "As an antigovernment crusader and as a warmonger, Reagan turned out to be all bark and no bite....Before Reagan, pandering was principally a Democratic vice. Today, it's principally a Republican vice. Ronald Reagan performed that transformation, and it remains his most enduring legacy."
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
Noah, who also worked as an issues director for Maryland's Kathleen Kennedy Townsend when she tried a run for Congress in 1986, began by explaining that in 1980, he registered as a Republican for the only time in his life to vote for John Anderson and deny Ronald Reagan the GOP nomination: "Reagan was dangerous. He wanted to eliminate vast portions of the government indiscriminately, and he wanted to commit the military to ill-considered interventions abroad. I couldn't have been more wrong. As an antigovernment crusader and as a warmonger, Reagan turned out to be all bark and no bite."
Leaving out the role of Congress in driving government growth, Noah suggested that Reagan failed to effectively cut government -- which also excluded how the media kicked and screamed at the very idea of spending restraint. He was so uncharitable he even tied Reagan to the Ronald Reagan Building, a very large building that hosts thousands of bureaucrats today, although its official relationship with Reagan is nonexistent.
Noah also attempted to downplay Reagan's dramatic victory over communism without major casualties: "The only hot war waged during the Reagan administration was to remove a comic-opera Marxist government from the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada." He bowed to reality, and then turned it back into an indictment: "Reagan can probably claim some credit for ending the Cold War, but his principal weapon, characteristically, was spending -- the Soviets bankrupted themselves trying to keep up with the Pentagon's weapons-buying binge through the 1980s. Reagan's greatest achievement in foreign affairs was therefore linked to his greatest achievement in domestic affairs. He taught Republicans that they could be even less responsible than Democrats."
The article concluded with how Reagan ruined the Republican Party: "Today, what does it mean to be a Republican? It means you can cut taxes indiscriminately and needn't worry about the debt you're piling up. It certainly doesn't mean that you want to shrink the federal government. Indeed, government spending under George W. Bush has increased faster than it did under Bill Clinton. Before Reagan, pandering was principally a Democratic vice. Today, it's principally a Republican vice. Ronald Reagan performed that transformation, and it remains his most enduring legacy."
To read Noah's June 5 posting in full: Read it at. slate.msn.com
# Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks is scheduled to appear tonight, Tuesday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker