- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

How much did Bernard Goldberg pay CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves?

CBS News renegade Goldberg couldn’t ask for a better advertisement for his upcoming book on the media’s leftward tilt than his former network’s new Ronald Reagan miniseries.

The online Drudge Report lifted the curtain on CBS’ “The Reagans” Monday night, citing an article in yesterday’s New York Times. The two-part film paints the former president as a forgetful, distracted leader without sympathy for those with AIDS, the press reports claim. Forgotten in the retelling are the economic recovery of the ‘80s and the story of how President Reagan restored confidence to a country sunk in what his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, termed a “national malaise.”

Mr. Goldberg wrote “Bias” in late 2001, documenting an insider’s view of the news media’s left-leaning predispositions. He revisits the topic next month with “Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite.”

A phone call to CBS wasn’t returned for comment on the miniseries, to air Nov. 16 and 18.

Mr. Reagan is far from perfect, and his legacy certainly leaves plenty of room for debate, but was the longtime Hollywood actor a religious fanatic who pitilessly cited Scripture for his belief that AIDS represented divine retribution against homosexuals?

“They that live in sin shall die in sin,” CBS’ President Reagan says.

Guess what? The real President Reagan never said that.

According to the New York Times, playwright Elizabeth Egloff, who did the final version of the script, acknowledged there was no evidence for those words she attributed to the former president. The best Miss Egloff could do in defending the ascription of inflammatory fabricated dialogue to the former president was to cite similar sentiments that Edmund Morris attributed to him in his openly fictionalized Reagan biography, “Dutch.”

Columnist, critic and radio talk-show host Michael Medved says the upcoming movie is precisely what was to be expected given the talent involved. The film stars James Brolin, Mr. Barbra Streisand; and Judy Davis as the ex-president and his wife, respectively; and Mr. Moonves is an unabashed Democratic supporter.

“It’s yet more evidence, as if it were needed, that people in ‘Hollyweird’ live in a cellophane, enclosed, hermetically sealed bubble,” Mr. Medved says.

The film surely will stoke more arguments over whether the news media is indeed biased, but that misses the point, he says.

“The major source of media influence in our society isn’t journalism; it’s entertainment,” he says. “The American public is a much more voracious consumer of entertainment media than of information media, and this show is a good example of it.”

“The Reagans” won’t be the first show this television season in which a Republican leader has been cast in an unflattering light. The premiere of NBC’s “The West Wing” featured a bellicose Republican (John Goodman) taking over as commander in chief when President Josiah Bartlet stepped down to look for his kidnapped daughter. Mr. Goodman portrayed the senator as a warmonger; Bartlet’s aides looked on in horror.

Martin Anderson, a Hoover Institution fellow who formerly served as a senior policy adviser during Mr. Reagan’s two presidential campaigns, says the movie represents a partisan attack by Hollywood.

“The left wing is very upset about the fact that a number of books have been written which tell the truth about Reagan,” Mr. Anderson says.

“First, they were silent. Now they’re making a movie and fictionally attacking him,” he says.

Mr. Anderson adds that the scene in which Mr. Reagan displays no concern for AIDS patients doesn’t square with the man he knows.

“The bottom line is I think if the left is so upset about Reagan 15 years after he left office, they’ve got a real problem,” Mr. Anderson says.

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