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Liberals Marvin Kalb and Lou Cannon Denounce The Reagans Movie
MRC ^ | 12/3/03 | Brent Baker

Posted on 12/04/2003 6:26:42 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

During Showtime’s Monday night 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 an airing Sunday night on 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?”

Meanwhile, on FNC’s Hannity & Colmes on Monday night, Ronald Reagan’s adopted son Michael condemned the portrayal he saw of his father, complaining: “They made my father look like Mr. Magoo.” And as for the repeated instances in the movie of Ronald calling his wife “Nancy-pants,” Michael Reagan revealed: “I never heard my dad call Nancy 'Nancy-pants.’”

During the 9pm EST panel show from Washington, DC on Showtime, and simulcast on C-SPAN, former NBC News correspondent Marvin Kalb, who is now with the Shorenstein Center at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, asserted: “The tone of it was insensitive, I think it was hostile in many places. I think when one realizes that President Reagan is in California in the tail end of a deep siege with Alzheimer’s, this is not the time to do this kind of a movie.”

After panel moderator Frank Sesno, a CNN veteran, ran a clip from the movie in which Holmes Tuttle, Mike Deaver and others in 1965 discuss how to convince Reagan to run for Governor of California, a scene in which they talk about how they can teach Reagan what to say and they suggest that they’ve been “talking to the wrong Reagan,” meaning Nancy really decides for her husband, former Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon, who has penned several biographies of Ronald Reagan, rued:
“It’s hard to imagine a cartoon that could be that bad. Here is a guy, Ronald Reagan, who has been in politics most of his life, he’s been involved in a student strike as a freshman, he’s been all through that gritty politics of the New Deal, the Democrats want him to run for Congress in the '50s. He’d given a speech for Barry Goldwater in '64. He was in politics....It’s so bad, that I don’t even know how they got there.”

Later, Cannon added: “I’m sure everybody on this panel and that you remember the famous debate where Lloyd Bentsen says to Dan Quayle, you know, 'I know John F. Kennedy and you’re no John F. Kennedy.’ Well I do know Ronald Reagan. This isn’t Ronald Reagan. And I know Nancy Reagan and this isn’t Nancy Reagan.”

For a look at some of Cannon’s books on Reagan, see these pages:

For, Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power:

For, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime:

For, Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio: History as Told through the Collection of the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum:

When Martin Anderson, a long-time friend of the Reagans and a domestic policy adviser in the Reagan White House, pointed how the producers and CBS had said the movie was “historically accurate,” Sesno put the question to Carl Sferrazza Anthony, an author of a book on First Ladies who carried the title of “co-producer” of The Reagans, but seemed to have little to really do with it: “Speak for the film makers here for a moment: Was this, is this meant to be historically true?” Sferrazza Anthony emphatically answered: “No.”

But in a taped message which aired before the movie, Showtime Chairman and CEO Matt Blank had maintained: “As you probably know, The Reagans has been criticized by those who have yet to see it as an unbalanced denouncement of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. We believe it is, in fact, an honest portrayal of many of the turning points in his life and in his political career....A diligent attempt was made by the filmmakers to have factual sources for every scene in this movie. For dramatic purposes, some dialogue has been embellished and some characters are composites. But nearly all of the historical facts in the movie can be substantiated and have been carefully researched.”

And last Wednesday morning on FNC’s Fox & Friends, MRC analyst Amanda Monson noticed, Blank insisted “we think it is” when asked if the movie would reflect “an accurate depiction” of the lives of the Reagans.

The November 26 exchange:

Steve Doocy: “Well, I’m sure you’re going to have a big audience because people are wanting to see what all the controversy is about. The big question though is, is the version you’re going to run an accurate depiction of what the Reagans life has been like?”

Blank: “Well, we think it is. Obviously some people will disagree. At the end of this movie you’ll learn that Ronald Reagan is a man who entered the Cold War, brought down the Iron Curtain. He also was a man involved in Iran Contra, who didn’t mention the word AIDS for seven years of his administration. The Ron and Nancy Reagan story is one of the great love stories of our time and yes, Nancy Reagan was a very tough woman and a very demanding woman. And I think that it’ll be a very balanced portrayal of their life and Ronald Reagan's presidency.”

But, as Micheal Reagan, a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, noted on FNC’s Hannity & Colmes on Monday night: “The reality of it is, if I can jump in for a moment, the only time you got anything positive out of this show last night was if you stayed awake long enough and you were willing to suffer through the terrible acting to get to the end when they scrolled at the end to show you what my father accomplished as President of the United States of America. Nowhere during the movie did they really, really get into what he did for America, what he did for the military.”

Indeed, the movie did not credit Reagan with winning the Cold War and only in a post-movie bit of text on screen did viewers learn:
“A year after Reagan left office,
the Berlin Wall came down,
ushering in the eventual
dissolution of the Soviet Union.”

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth took down some of Michael Reagan’s comments:

-- Sean Hannity: “Did you watch the whole thing, Michael?”
Michael Reagan: “Yeah, I want my money back. I had to pay to get Showtime into my house, Sean. I called today and cancelled it. ...You know, after watching it, I got to tell you, Sean, after watching it, I would like to say we conservatives pressured CBS into moving over to Showtime. After watching it, we didn’t have to pressure them at all. I think CBS looked at the show and saw the terrible job that they did, terrible acting job, the way it was portrayed, and said, 'This is a piece of trash, send it over to Showtime. They’ll buy anything.’”

-- Reagan: “This was a 'trash Nancy’ movie. My goodness gracious. If Nancy, Nancy should have put her head under the covers last night when this movie was on.” Alan Colmes: “They made her, but, Michael, let me ask you something. Didn’t they make Nancy look a lot worse than they made your dad look?”
Reagan: “Oh, my good gracious, yeah, absolutely right. There was no redeeming qualities about Nancy in this movie at all. And I’ll tell you, if I would have heard my dad call her 'Nancy-pants’ one more time, I would have shot the TV with a shotgun. I never heard my dad call Nancy 'Nancy-pants.’”

-- Reagan: “But the reality of this whole thing is, the way it was really, you know, portrayed, the whole thing, was just, it was just so disingenuous to my father. They made my father look like Mr. Magoo. And, listen, it wasn’t Mr. Magoo running the White House. It was President Ronald Reagan. ...”

-- Hannity: “I would say this isn’t so much about one version or interpretation. This is about real character assassination. And as you once said, this really took your father, this affable, lovable man, and just portrayed him as a bumbling idiot who was-“
Reagan: “Mr. Magoo.”
Hannity: “And that was the point because liberals wanted to rewrite history. And Barbra Streisand’s husband has a political agenda.”
Reagan: “And they also tried to infer through the whole McFarlane thing that somehow he had Alzheimer’s early on in the administration, which is something...the liberal left have always believed.”

Monday morning on NBC’s Today, Katie Couric allowed former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan to run through what she found most inaccurate about the movie but then, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Couric pointed out how “many people bemoaned what happened,” when Viacom, in the wake of conservative protest, moved the movie from CBS to Showtime, “as a real loss for free speech in this country.”

Couric asked on the December 1 Today: “In closing, what about, just a quick note about the brouhaha that ensued. Many people bemoaned what happened as a, as a real loss for free speech in this country. Other, others, I mean obviously this, sort of, brought up all sorts of different feelings. And I’m just curious now after all is said and done what do you think about CBS’s decision to move it to cable? Do you think they, they buckled under pressure that they shouldn’t have buckled under or they did the right thing and it was a so-called moral decision?”

Noonan said she believes CBS Chairman Les Moonves did the right thing when he dropped it from CBS when he realized it was political propaganda and she marveled at the “spontaneous uprising” by the public when many saw the movie as “unfair,” and “that’s free speech.”

Showtime has scheduled three more airings of The Reagans:

-- Thursday, December 4 at 8pm EST on Showtime East, 8pm PST on Showtime West
-- Saturday, December 6 at 8pm EST on Showtime Too East, 8pm PST on Showtime Too West
-- Wednesday, December 10 at 8pm EST on Showtime East and 8pm PST on Showtime West

The Thursday one, any maybe the others, will be followed by a re-play of the hour-long panel show.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: leftcriticizes; liberals; loucannon; marvinkalb; moviereview; mrc; thereagans

1 posted on 12/04/2003 6:26:42 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Memo to CBS: Paybacks are a bitch.
2 posted on 12/04/2003 6:45:49 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
I always wondered who was going to sponser this on "real" tv.
3 posted on 12/04/2003 6:51:48 AM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
It gave me great pleasure to call Direct TV to cut off Showtime, I told the person why also.
4 posted on 12/04/2003 6:54:45 AM PST by wayoverontheright
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Someday I'll get a survey diary and I'll guarantee that CBS will not get a single page.
5 posted on 12/04/2003 7:02:52 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I think I read that the movie garnered an audience of about 450,000 the night it aired. Not a winner by any standard.

Those that sponser CBS might need to rethink what ad time costs on that loser, nobody is watching, network. I think we need to engage in a few well placed boycotts and put CBS out of it's misery. It would be wonderful if Rupert Murdock agreed to buy it at a fire sale price.
6 posted on 12/04/2003 7:09:52 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
"who didn't mention the word AIDS for seven years of his administration."

Does someone have the link from the article that refutes this claim? I thought I saw it yesterday, and it clearly showed that Reagan talked about the AIDS crisis early in his first term....meaning this is another blatant lie. Thanks
7 posted on 12/04/2003 8:21:50 AM PST by cwb
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To: cwboelter
The thing that keeps amazing me about talk concerning President Reagan and AIDS is that they claim that he didn't act quickly enough, spend enough, or talk about it enough so more people died. Well, they didn't know what AIDS was for a while (it was originally "GRID" -- guess what the "G" stands for), we've since spent plenty and there is still not cure on the horizon, and just because the President wasn't talking about it didn't mean that it was a secret and no one had ever heard of it. Indeed, now that they have drugs that can treat but not cure it, the rate seems to be going up again. So what, exactly, was Ronald Reagan supposed to have done that would have made any real difference?
8 posted on 12/04/2003 11:09:59 AM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I watched the analysis show on Showtime but not the movie. I think that show so thoroughly trashed the movie that it redeemed Showtime's decision to show it in the first place. They had trouble finding anything nice to say about it.
9 posted on 12/04/2003 11:11:14 AM PST by Question_Assumptions
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