June 14, 2004


Mark Steyn on the anti-Reagan media:

If anything is laid to rest with him at the end of this remarkable week, it ought to be the lazy condescension of the elites. That's all but indestructible, alas. Last Monday, the Washington Post and many other papers carried an Associated Press story by Adam Geller on Reagan's economic legacy which began, ''He had almost no schooling in economics ...'' Actually, that's one of the few things he did have schooling in: In 1932, he earned a bachelor's degree in social science and economics from Eureka College. I guess a certificate from Eureka just doesn't impress these reporters the way Bush's Yale Business School diploma impresses them.

In fact, it seems that the elites may be having second thoughts, albeit a couple of decades too late. Take this chat between CNN's Bernard Shaw and Wolf Blitzer, from Friday's broadcast:

Shaw: "Can I say something that touches at a very sensitive issue?"

Blitzer: "Of course."

Shaw: "The news media, and how we failed to thoroughly cover and communicate the very essences we're talking about, possessed by Ronald Reagan. What I've been reading and what I've been hearing, I did not get during his two terms in office. Or did I miss something?"

Blitzer: "I think you're on to something, Bernie."

Shaw: "I think we failed our viewers, listeners, and readers to an appreciable extent. I can't quantify it, but I'll, I'll put it there. Because I certainly missed a lot."

Blitzer: "I think you're absolutely right, Bernie. We've learned a lot more about this presidency in the years that have followed Ronald Reagan's two terms in office. And I suspect as more of his diaries, more of his papers, more of his speeches, more information is released by the presidential library in Simi Valley, we'll learn even a great deal more."

Yay for learning.

UPDATE. John Howard admits that he, too, got Reagan wrong:

I was wrong about Ronald Reagan. Back in 1980 when the Republican primaries were being held I wanted George Bush (who later became 41st president) to win. My view reflected much of the conventional wisdom at the time. Reagan was a movie star. It was too old at the age of 69 to be commencing a presidential career. He did not seem to have the same background in national political responsibility as his Republican primary rival Bush.

Subsequent events proved me and many others completely wrong.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 14, 2004 02:47 AM

I don't suppose this means they'll take another look at Bush.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 14, 2004 at 03:10 AM

Maybe it's recognition of the fact that that they work for a propaganda organ and don't acutally report news.

Posted by: George at June 14, 2004 at 03:18 AM

No, they won’t take another look at Bush. That issue is still way way too “sensitive” for them. They don’t learn the lesson. They don’t, with any depth, apply lessons.

To the newsmannikins the lesson of 9/11/01 was—Get Al Qaeda to stop. And there the newsmannikins stop. To Bush the lesson was—Destroy Al Qaeda &, since the USA should have addressed root & branch of the Al Qaeda threat in the past, we should head off other gathering security threats at the pass rather than waiting for them to hit us hard at home—as they will, given bloodthirst, weaponized subcultures & mentalities, & ever increasingly available technologies adaptable for mass destruction.

Posted by: ForNow at June 14, 2004 at 03:21 AM

Here's a good article by Max Boot which compares the media's attitudes towards Reagan and Bush. Lead paragraph:

Listening to the endless encomiums to Ronald Reagan, many from people who once derided him, I couldn't help wonder whether some day George W. Bush would receive similar tributes from his current enemies. It seems unlikely, even to me, but then it seemed pretty unlikely 20 years ago that the Gipper would ever win widespread acclaim as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at June 14, 2004 at 03:27 AM

Wow, ForNow - GREAT summary of the situation.

Posted by: Barbara Skolaut at June 14, 2004 at 03:29 AM

It has seemed to me for a long time that no matter WHO the sitting U.S. president is, he will be fair game for the media elite who want every president to be Richard Nixon and every war to be Vietnam.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 14, 2004 at 03:42 AM

Thanks, Barbara. I’ve said these things hundreds of different ways starting on 9/13/01, & this is the first time anybody has said “WOW.” Now I can go off to work (yes, on Sunday) in a particularly good mood, I have the sword of my summary to wield as the occasion ariseth. :-) —ForNow.

Posted by: ForNow at June 14, 2004 at 03:50 AM

"...did I miss something?"

He and his professional colleagues missed the last train to reality.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 14, 2004 at 04:01 AM

Perhaps these journos need to free their minds to use their brains. Or something.

Posted by: PW at June 14, 2004 at 04:06 AM


I don't suppose this means they'll take another look at Bush.

In about 20 years.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at June 14, 2004 at 04:19 AM


Haha! Can I steal that, ForNow? Excellent post, by the way.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at June 14, 2004 at 04:22 AM

Good to see, BUT ...

Remember that they are only backing away from their previous anti-Reagan stances because they have to. Reagan's victories were far too obvious to be denied any longer, and the public's love for the man runs deep.

Reminds of the old man in Catch-22. When the Germans marched into his town, he loved the Germans. When the Allies marched in, he loved the Allies. Just like the press now loves Reagan.

Posted by: ras at June 14, 2004 at 05:23 AM

I don't suppose this means they'll take another look at Bush.
In about 20 years.

Longer than that -- I don't expect George W. to be dead at 77 if his dad is jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, for fun, at 80.

Posted by: McGehee at June 14, 2004 at 06:40 AM

“Newsmannikins”—twice in one day! I made that up, oh was it a decade ago? The most comment I’d ever received on it was—“What do you mean by ‘newsmannikins’?” Yes, you & anybody else may steal it.

Posted by: ForNow at June 14, 2004 at 08:32 AM

Bush has an MBA from Harvard, not Yale, but the point is still valid.

Posted by: perfectsense at June 14, 2004 at 09:01 AM

Before switching over to C-Span's coverage of the Reagan funeral because CNN was so irritating, I listened to Wolf Blitzer mention several times how classy President Mbeki of South Africa was to attend the funeral.

In Wolf's addled brain, South Africa (read: the ANC) was a "victim" of Reagan's "constructive engagement" policies. (The same policy followed or encouraged by the Democrats in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc.)

The same sanctions policies being encouraged by the Left against South Africa in the '80's were decried as genocidal in Iraq in the '90's. But of course that didn't occur to Blitzer.

I really believe that very few news readers have the requisite analytic skills to determine why things happen in the world.

A few weeks ago, the CNN morning anchor woman interviewed a teenager who had won the National Geography Bee. His correct answer was "Khyber Pass". She expressed astonishment that he had ever heard of the Khyber Pass. He replied that Afghanistan had been in the news, what with the war and everything. She looked chagrin as she thought about it. Unbelievable.

Posted by: JDB at June 14, 2004 at 11:15 AM

Rudyard Kipling must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 14, 2004 at 11:40 AM

Media realizing they got Reagan wrong? "Dawn breaks on Marblehead", as they say in Massachusetts.

Posted by: Moonbat_One at June 14, 2004 at 03:23 PM

I saw that exchange on CNN, and though I hate to burst anyone's bubble of expectation that they might actually be "getting it", the fact of the matter is the exchange lasted only about 30 seconds before groupthink set back in with "but there were problems" or something to that effect.

Face it they will never get it. Not ever.

Posted by: Dan M at June 14, 2004 at 03:39 PM

The media's "getting it" seemed mostly to consist of stunned "my god they really liked him" exclamations regarding the American public. The media out of touch with the "man on the street"? Let me die of shock.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 14, 2004 at 08:08 PM