- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ronald Reagan’s legacy is under attack. For years, liberal academics have tried to explain how the Soviet Union collapsed without giving credit to the U.S. president who challenged communism head on and won. Now Hollywood is opening up another front. Next month, Mr. Reagan will be tarred and feathered in a made-for-TV docudrama by CBS. It is a transparent attempt to obscure historical fact with Tinsel Town glitz.

The anti-Reagan bias of the mini-series isn’t hidden. In a Tuesday article focusing on the controversy surrounding the movie, the New York Times noted “growing concern that this deconstruction of his presidency is shot through a liberal lens, exaggerating his foibles and giving short thrift to his accomplishments.” In the evidence department, Exhibit No. 1 is that the 40th president is played by Mr. Barbra Streisand, James Brolin. The actor and his wife are longtime activists for far-left causes. In the last month alone, as reported by Matt Drudge, Miss Streisand has labeled the California recall a right-wing “attempted hijacking of the democratic process,” attacked “the myth of Big Government” and demanded an independent probe into White House leaks.

On “Hardball with Chris Matthews” two days ago, the host asked Mr. Reagan’s campaign manager and two of the president’s biographers if they were contacted by CBS to verify the historical authenticity of the film. Strategist Ed Rollins and biographers Lou Cannon and Martin Anderson all stated that they had not been consulted. On the program, these authorities of the Reagan presidency debunked the movie’s depiction of Ronald Reagan as callous to AIDS, oversimplistic in labeling people “commies” and accommodating to his wife’s alleged consultations with an astrologer. These experts and other articles point out that the movie does not give him due credit for reversing the ascendancy of the Soviet Union, stimulating an economic recovery and making Americans proud again after the defeat in Vietnam and the discombobulation of the Carter administration.

As Mr. Reagan struggles with the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease, “The Reagans” mini-series is certainly in bad taste. But its dishonesty is worse. Of course, distorting history is nothing new in Hollywood. On his Tuesday show, Chris Matthews, a forthright liberal, criticized the Oliver Stone productions “Nixon” and “JFK” for playing fast and loose with the truth. “People with the baseball hats on, regular kids in their 20s, they sit there [in the theater] and they suck this stuff up, and they come out of there thinking, ‘You know, Nixon had something to do with killing Kennedy.’” Mr. Matthews shows that the Reagan smear does not have to be a partisan issue. All those who respect truth should come out against this latest example of Hollywood revisionism.

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