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The Reagans

This page is a compilation of MRC’s commentary and activities on CBS’s mini-series “The Reagans.”

Former President Ronald ReaganShowtime’s Panel Denounces The Reagans
During Showtime’s panel, Controversy: The Reagans, two liberals, Marvin Kalb and Lou Cannon, denounced the inaccurate portrayal of Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the movie switched from CBS to Showtime. In addition, a co-producer of the film contradicted Showtime’s CEO and admitted that the movie was not historically accurate, answering “no” when asked if the movie was “meant to be historically true?”
(CyberAlert, December 2, 2003)

Director and Producer of The Reagans Blast CBS Chairman
In a conference call with reporters, the director and a producer of The Reagans mini-series, as well as Showtime’s programming chief, blasted CBS Chairman Les Moonves for calling the movie unbalanced and for claiming he was unaware of its content as it was being filmed. Both CBS and Showtime are owned by Viacom.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview of The Reagans, Part 1 of 7
Preview of The Reagans on Showtime, compiled by the MRC’s Rich Noyes, part 1 of 7. This section includes an overview of the script and a few caveats.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: Reaganomics Hurt the Poor, Part 2 of 7
The Reagan-hurt-the-poor theme begins when Ronald Reagan is Governor of California. In a quick succession of scenes on pages 64-65, a newspaper editor chooses headlines to illustrate what are presented as the key developments of Reagan’s governorship: “Fancy Nancy Turns Up Her Nose at Governor’s Mansion,” “Welfare Is a Cancer, Says Reagan,” and “Reagan Issues Biggest Tax Hike in U.S. History.”
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: Reagan Won the Cold War Despite Conservatives, Part 3 of 7
Retired General Al Haig, who was Secretary of State during the first year and a half of the Reagan administration, is presented as a reckless hardliner who at first appeals to Reagan’s anti-communist impulses, then derides Reagan as a “rank amateur” when the President writes his own letter to the Soviet leader in an effort to open peace talks.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: “Idiot” Reporters Supported Reagan, Part 4 of 7
The 213-page shooting script of The Reagans posted by Salon.com shows that after President Reagan responded to Libyan-sponsored terrorist attacks against American targets in Europe by bombing Libyan targets, reporters in the White House press room cheered the hardline stance. Only Bill Shelby, a fictional liberal reporter who is frequently presented as the voice of reason, dissents, calling his fellow reporters “a bunch of goddam idiots.”
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: Iran-Contra Just Like Watergate, Part 5 of 7
The 213-page shooting script of The Reagans posted by Salon.com centers Iran-contra as the key event of the whole Reagan presidency.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: Reagan Had Alzheimer’s Early On, Part 6 of 7
According to the script posted on Showtime, Reagan began losing his faculties almost as soon as he became President. While in real life Ronald Reagan was not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease until 1994, more than five years after he left office, the script has Nancy and aides worrying about his mental health in 1981.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Script Preview: Reagans Were Dysfunctional Family, Part 7 of 7
There are a host of scenes in the 213-page shooting script posted by Salon.com that portray the Reagans – especially Nancy – in a negative light. Nancy hits her daughter Patti, takes pills, and begins consulting with an astrologer before Reagan ran for Governor in 1966.
(CyberAlert, November 25, 2003)

Salon.com Posts “The Reagans” Screenplay, Shows a Befuddled President
Salon.com has obtained a full copy of the original 213-page screenplay for CBS’s The Reagans mini-series, which after much protest CBS last week shifted over to Showtime for airing sometime next year, and posted a PDF of it. A scan of it shows a derogatory portrayal of Ronald and Nancy Reagan with a lot of the stage directions pointing to a befuddled Ronald Reagan, with comments dealing with him looking distracted, looking away aimlessly, looking down at his fingernails etcetera as those around him tell him what to do and say.
(CyberAlert, November 13, 2003)

Liberals Blame MRC for CBS Pulling “The Reagans”
The two liberal panelists on FNC’s Fox Newswatch credited/blamed the MRC for CBS’s decision to move “The Reagans” mini-series to Showtime.
(CyberAlert, November 10, 2003)

Gabler Misconstrues MRC Report on CBS News Reagan-Bashing
FNC’s Neal Gabler isn’t very good at discerning what’s on CBS News and what is not. On FNC’s Hannity & Colmes, Gabler, who holds the liberal slot on FNC’s Fox Newswatch, filled in for Alan Colmes. After Sean Hannity recited two Reagan-bashing quotes from Lesley Stahl as listed in a Media Reality Check distributed by the MRC, Gabler rejected the notion that the collection of quotes proved hostility by CBS News toward Ronald Reagan since “only two of the seven statements” in the MRC report “were made on CBS!”
(CyberAlert, November 8, 2003)

Widespread Media Coverage for MRC’s Role in CBS Dropping Movie
The MRC earned quite a lot of media coverage this past week for our role in the effort to convince CBS to reconsider airing its mini-series, The Reagans. On Tuesday, October 28 MRC President Brent Bozell sent a letter to the top 100 advertisers on television advising them of the reported content of the CBS mini-series and urging them to look at the movie themselves before buying any time on the program.
(CyberAlert, November 8, 2003)

Couric Claims Media Handles Reagan with “Kid Gloves”
Katie Couric bemoaned the “kid-gloves” standard for Ronald Reagan as Matt Lauer recalled how “while he was in office he was known as the Teflon President.” Now that CBS pulled its mini-series on him, Couric claimed the devotion of conservatives to him “is leaving some to wonder if the nation’s 40th President is somehow untouchable, now and forever.” She also ludicrously asked that if those upset by the CBS mini-series “can basically exert this kind of political pressure and create an environment where, perhaps, free speech is not exercised?”
(CyberAlert, November 7, 2003)

Showtime Will “Refashion” Reagans
Showtime will feature a panel discussion about the Reagan presidency after its airing of “The Reagans” mini-series, the New York Times reported. Reporter Bill Carter also revealed that the movie is back in editing to “refashion” it for Showtime and that Viacom sees CBS as having a higher standard than Showtime, where it is appropriate to air films with a point of view.
(CyberAlert, November 7, 2003)

So Reagan’s Friends are the Villains?
Who cares if the mini-series on Ronald and Nancy Reagan was unfair and unbalanced, a fact that CBS executives now concede? Some liberal critics think CBS should have aired the mean-spirited movie anyway, rather than acknowledge that conservatives were right.
(Media Reality Check, November 6, 2003)

CBS Chairman Says Movie was “Quite Biased”
Though he acknowledged a “lot of pressure from the right,” CBS Chairman Les Moonves denied pressure from advertisers had anything to do with CBS shifting its mini-series, The Reagans, from CBS to Showtime. In an address Wednesday night at Yale University, he maintained that the movie was just too “biased” against the Reagans for CBS, but not for Showtime.
(CyberAlert, November 6, 2003)

Conservatives Instilling a “Soviet-style Chill”
CBS’s decision to dump its mini-series on the Reagans and shift it to Showtime, outraged some mainstream media watchers. The New York Times condemned CBS for caving in to a “Soviet-style chill” instilled by conservatives, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter denigrated the “unholy trinity” of the “Elephant Echo Chamber” and USA Today’s television critic, Robert Bianco, even contended that CBS’s decision proves the media are not liberal, though the Chicago Tribune revealed how a CBS executive conceded that “the liberal political views of most CBS executives blinded them” to how their version of Reagan would anger so many.
(CyberAlert, November 6, 2003)

Networks Worry About Being “Targeted” Next
Network reaction to CBS’s decision to move ‘The Reagans’ to Showtime focused on “intimidation” and intimations that conservatives were somehow creating an “oppressive” environment.
(CyberAlert, November 5, 2003)

CNBC’s Williams: Conservatives Are Intimidating the Artistic
CNBC’s Brian Williams picked up the theme of his broadcast network counterparts, characterizing CBS’s decision as “dangerous” and describing he complaints about the movie as “extortion.”
(CyberAlert, November 5, 2003)

Gibson: Concerned About “Artistic Freedom”
ABC’s Good Morning America host Charles Gibson was concerned that critics were encroaching on “artistic freedom.”
(CyberAlert, November 5, 2003)

TV Critic: If Hitler Had Had More Friends…
Then CBS wouldn’t have aired a mini-series about him, either. That was the logic of Philadelphia Daily News TV critic Ellen Gray.
(CyberAlert, November 5, 2003)

Bozell: Decision to Pull “Reagans” Was Wise
MRC President Brent Bozell praised CBS’s decision to pull the planned mini-series on the Reagans.
(Press Release, November 4, 2003)

“The Reagans” Dropped? Major Media Weigh In
With the DrudgeReport.com breaking the news that CBS will announce it will not air its mini-series, “The Reagans,” and will shift it over, “uncut,” to the Showtime paid cable channel, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post all carried stories on how CBS is “considering” such a move which would represent a great victory for truth and accuracy over hateful, left-wing propaganda, though it will still be presented to a smaller potential audience.
(CyberAlert, November 4, 2003)

Anti-Reagan Agenda of CBS News Exposed
CBS now says it won’t broadcast its inaccurate and unfair mini-series The Reagans, but the entertainment division’s Reagan bashing echoes various CBS News stars who disdain Ronald Reagan and his conservative policies. Here are a few quotes illustrating CBS’s anti-Reagan agenda, culled from the Media Research Center’s archives:
(Media Reality Check, November 4, 2003)

Newsweek Reports that CBS Execs Loved the Reagan Movie
“Before a New York Times story last month detailed conservatives’ complaints,” about the CBS mini-series “The Reagans,” this week’s Newsweek disclosed, “network executives reportedly loved the movie. 'They all thought it was brilliant,’ says someone who worked on the film.” But now, with CBS reeling in response to the angry reaction for the movie’s derogatory and made up portrayal of the Reagans, the production crew is refusing to cooperate with CBS’s editing demands, Newsweek reported. 
(CyberAlert, November 3, 2003)

Martin Anderson and Merv Griffin Contradict Movie’s Claims
In a full hour with CBS Chairman Les Moonves on Friday night, PBS’s Charlie Rose failed to raise with him “The Reagans” mini-series, only the biggest controversy now facing that network as its scheduled November 16 air date rapidly approaches. But segments Friday night on FNC’s O’Reilly Factor and MSNBC Scarborough Country yielded interesting new information and perspectives from Reagan friends.
(CyberAlert, November 3, 2003)

CBS Top 10 Anti-Reagan Comments
In having the CBS mini-series “The Reagans” reportedly ignore the economic boom of the Reagan years and portray Ronald Reagan as an anti-gay homophobe (“They that live in sin shall die in sin”), the CBS entertainment division and the producers and screenwriter of the two-part mini-series, set to air on November 16 and 18, were simply following the lead of the staff of CBS News, a review of the MRC’s archive discovered.
(CyberAlert, November 3, 2003)

Tina Brown Discounts Right’s “Predictable Flap” Over Reagan Movie
CNBC’s Tina Brown, during an interview with CBS President Leslie Moonves, dismissed concerns about CBS’s upcoming “The Reagans” mini-series as a “predictable flap” from “right-wing pundits.” Moonves called any criticism “rather odd” since it isn’t finished and “nobody’s seen the film,” though that’s because CBS won’t let anyone see it, but he conceded that at this late date, barely two weeks from its scheduled airing, CBS is still reviewing it, a sure sign they are reacting to the controversy over it.
(CyberAlert, October 30, 2003)

Reagan Friend Merv Griffin Blast CBS as “Cowardly”
Veteran television host and producer Merv Griffin, a long-time friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, appeared on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and used the opportunity to blast CBS for “the most cowardly thing I’ve ever heard” over the reported tone and content of CBS’s upcoming mini-series, “The Reagans.”
(CyberAlert, October 29, 2003)
(Media Reality Check - Quick Take, October 29, 2003)

MRC President Bozell Urges Advertisers Not to Sponsor “The Reagans”
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell is sending a letter to the top 100 corporate advertisers in America today, urging them not to support the upcoming CBS mini-series “The Reagans.”
(Press Release, October 28, 2003)

MRC Letter to the Top 100 Corporate Sponsors
On November 16 and 18 CBS will broadcast “The Reagans,” a two-part mini-series about former President Ronald Reagan. I urge you to contact the network and review the script or the movie itself before you allow spots for any of your products to run during the program.
(Letter to Corporate Sponsors, October 28, 2003)

Reagan as the “Anti-Christ,” Ketchup is a Vegetable
The DrudgeReport.com has been given more excerpts from the script of CBS’s mid-November mini-series, “The Reagans,” in which Nancy Reagan slaps five-year-old daughter Patti, Ronald Reagan curses in the Oval Office and refers to himself as “the anti-Christ,” and, in what Drudge dubs the “showcase line,” Nancy Reagan argues: “Ketchup is a vegetable! It is not a meat, right? So IT IS a vegetable.”
(CyberAlert, October 27, 2003)

CBS Revises “The Reagans”
If Ronald Reagan were still in his prime, presidential 1980s form, he’d be saying to Hollywood: “There you go again.”
(Bozell Entertainment Column, October 23, 2003)

CBS Movie Will Exaggerate Foibles, Downplay Successes
CBS’s planed mini-series, “The Reagans,” starring James Brolin, aka Mr. Barbra Streisand, as Ronald Reagan, looks to be so slanted against Reagan from the left that even the New York Times has taken notice.
(CyberAlert, October 22, 2003)


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