THE REAGANS: THE LIBERAL ASSAULT ON HISTORY
By Jon Christian Ryter
November 6, 2003
When cyber-news snoop Matt Drudge snagged a copy of the script of the fictional CBS miniseries "The Reagans" (that was to be presented by CBS as an accurate, factually-supported but not publicly-known history of the Reagan years), conservatives nationwide were up-in-arms at the portrayal of President Ronald Reagan as an uncaring bigot, and First Lady Nancy Reagan as a shrew. CBS executives, who read and approved the script for the two-part, 4-hour mini-series (and were present during much of the shooting of the project), were pleased with their film and planned to air it during Sweeps Week, on Sunday, Nov. 16 and Tuesday, Nov 18, believing the docudrama would give them a ratings boost that would likewise boost the price they could ask for a 30-second commercial for the next 6 months. Hallmark Entertainment Distribution, a subsidiary of Kansas City, Missouri-based Hallmark Cards had already signed on to distribute the project internationally and also captured broadcast rights for the Hallmark Channel. Key advertisers like Gillette, Blockbuster Video and Ericcson had happily signed on to the project since everyone was convinced "The Reagans" would be a ratings grabber.
There was only one thing wrong with the project--it was pure liberal bunk with just enough historic fact to glue the storyline together.
When CBS Chairman Les Moonves gave the nod to the studio to release the first publicity snippets of "The Reagans" to the media, the PR Department at CBS chose leftist New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg as their conduit to the "small screen" audience. Rutenberg, who is something of a history buff in his own right, immediately noticed the "slant" of the script, and the fact that it offered an extremely twisted view of history. He commented in his review that the script completely skipped the economic recovery of the 1980s that led to the largest expansion of the American economy in the history of the country. Even worse, Rutenberg noted, the writers and producers added events to the historic record that simply never happened, and colored those fictional eventst with conversations and language between Reagan and others that were not part of the Reagan personae and, according to those who knew him best, did not occur.
As the myriad of historic discrepancies were pointed out by Rutenberg and Matt Drudge, the mainstream media grudgingly covered the story but no references were made to the writer or writers who wrote the screenplay, the producers who funded the project, or the person or people who developed the project in the first place and presented the distorted idea to CBS.
And that cast of characters is every bit as important as the fact that starring in the docudrama was the husband of conservative-hating Barbra Streisand--James Brolin. Brolin is a has-been TV actor who hasn't had a steady job since he co-starred with veteran movie and TV actor Robert Young on the 70s hit TV series, Marcus Welby, MD.
While no one is talking, least of all Babs Streisand, this one has all the earmarks of a Streisand production.
When she was interviewed by Rutenberg, the playwright--Elizabeth Egloff--admitted she wrote the "final version" of the screenplay. What is most interesting is that the media wrote over 100 news articles--both pro and con--about the script for "The Reagans," but even though all of the criticism was directed at the anti-Reagan bias in the script, not one of the myriad of articles mentioned the name of the playwright, or the fact that Egloff is as far to the left as Babs Streisand. Nor did the media mention that Egloff, who is an award winning playwright, has received grants from the extremely liberal Pew Foundation and from the National Endowment for the Arts--both of which have an anti-conservative bias.
But even more important, no one in the mainstream media asked Streisand's involvement in the project after it was revealed that the "producers" of the project were close friends of Streisand's--Neal Meron and Craig Zadan. In fact, Meron and Zadan have collaborated with Babs on another Streisand project in which they served as "producers." In 1995 Babs recruited Zadan and Meron to produce a movie that starred Glenn Close as a lesbian military nurse who comes out of the closet to defy the homophobes in the Pentagon. The film was "The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story." I'm sure you remember it. It played in a couple of gay theatres and went straight (pardon the pun) to video--all in about a blink of the eye. What that piece of cinema magic did not do was bad-mouth the lesbian. Perverted lifestyle and all, Cammermeyer was depicted as a heroine.
Reagan, on the other hand, was portrayed in Egloff's script as an apathetic bigot. In one scene in the fictional film posing as truth, the discussion is centered on the AIDS epidemic. Reagan casually asserts that those with AIDS deserve their disease, saying that "...they that live in sin shall die in sin." And, in the Egloff script, he refused to discuss the issue any farther. Two points need to be stressed. First, another thing that the mainstream media failed to mention about Babs Streisand's handpicked producers for "The Reagans" is that they are both very aggressive homosexual activists. Zadan and Meron will be honored by the Hollywood homosexual crowd in March, 2004 at the "Building Equity" Dinner sponsored by the gay lobby, Human Rights Campaign. Second, you will recall during the Reagan years that homosexual activists accused Reagan of deliberately denying AIDS researchers the funds they needed to perfect the AIDS vaccine that the homosexual community was convinced was just around the corner. The homosexual community accused Reagan of being unsympathetic to their dilemma because --they said--he believed they brought their plight upon themselves. What showed up in Egloff's script as "fact" were Zadan and Meron's personal opinions of what they thought Reagan believed. That is bias. Third (even though I was only going to make two points), you will recall that Egloff told Rutenberg she was hired to write the final version of the screenplay. Her statement to the New York Times suggests that someone else wrote a first draft, or at least an outline and synopsis that would become the basis for the final version. Who? Streisand, perhaps?
In her interview with Rutenberg, Egloff said that the dialogue was factual if not completely accurate. She pointed out that in the book, "Dutch," a highly disputed, unauthorized biography of Reagan by Edmund Morris, the author wrote that Reagan once said of AIDS: "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague [because] illicit sex is against the ten commandments." "We know [Reagan] ducked the issue over and over again," Egloff told Rutenberg, "and we know [Nancy] was the one who got him to deal with it." She added that several of the biographies she had reviewed in writing her screenplay suggested that Reagan had trouble squaring homosexuality with the Bible. Egloff added that while there was no evidence that such a conversation actually took place, there was likewise no evidence to suggest that one did not, either. (One wonders if all of the biographies of Reagan that Egloff used as references were all written by Reagan's detractors?) "Zadan and Meron, whose own personal views of Reagan's opinion are depicted in that particular conversation insisted to reporters that no major event was depicted without at least two confirming sources, even though they admitted that they took a lot of dramatic liberty in some spots. In defense of their liberal revisionism, they interjected defensively that the film was approved by CBS' lawyers and Sony Pictures Television. I guess that makes it okay. And, in the AIDS dialogue, its likely the two confirming sources were Zadan as one and Meron as the other. Speaking about the dialogue liberties, Zadan said things weren't painted in black and white, but in blacks, whites and grays--many variations of gray.
When the Drudge Report printed some of the script, the proverbial brown stuff hit the fan in Conservativetown, USA. Following Drudge was WorldNetDaily and Newsmax.com--and then every small conservative news and opinion site on the Net. America was mad--and not just the rightwingers. Thousands of working class Democrats--those who are commonly called "the Reagan Democrats"--were as much up-in-arms as their more conservative counterparts from the other side of the great political divide.
As the flap began, CBS chief Moonves commented to the media types who were causing his phone to ring that he thought it was odd that he was being stung with criticism of a film that nobody had seen, adding that "We've looked at the rough cut. There are things we like...there are things we don't like...there are things we think go too far...so there are some edits being made trying to present a more fair picture of the Reagans."
Overnight several boycott CBS websites popped up. Among them were NoMoreCBS.com, PatrioticAmericansBoycottingAnti-AmericanHollywood.com, BoycottOfTheReagans.com, and the most organized and economically-influential site, DefendReagan.org, that was originated by the California businessman who financed the successful recall of Gov. Gray Davis--Howard Kaloogian. DefendReagan.org leapfrogged to one of the top 5% websites on the Internet in terms of hits within three days. Kaloogian coughed up $200 thousand of his own bankroll for ads in TV Guide and USA Today that were going to ask major CBS advertisers to drop their advertising from that specific program--and apply pressure on CBS, as a news organization, to present a more balanced presentation in its production of "The Reagans." Joining Kaloogian was Mike Paranzino, a former chief of staff to a U.S. Congressman. Paranzino teamed up with several of his colleagues to urge people not to watch the two-part mini-series and to boycott any advertisers on the program for a period of 30-days during the peak Christmas shopping season.
Kaloogian told his supporters that "...we are going to make sure that when and if this anti-Reagan miniseries airs that there is a 'rebuttal' that speaks the truth about Ronald Reagan's accomplishments and points out the lies, smears and distortions that CBS has engaged in."
Within days of the launch of his campaign, Kaloogian reported that the advertisers who had purchased time on "The Reagans," were all frantically scurrying for cover." Ericsson, Gillette and Blockbuster were taken from Kaloogian's boycott list when they pulled their advertising from CBS. "This shows you the strong emotions people feel towards the smear campaign CBS is waging against President Ronald Reagan." Had Kaloogian not recently dethroned a sitting governor and singlehandedly had him removed from office, the barons of business might not have paid too much attention to him. But Kaloogian is a man who has proven, in the trenches, that he can make terrible things happen to those who underestimate his ability to make things happen. But no one was more shocked than the Hollywood crowd--especially Babs and Jim. Melanie McFarland, the TV critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote: "Because of a barrage of pressure from conservative critics who have accused CBS of distorting Reagan's legacy without actually seeing "The Reagans," the network yesterday yanked the miniseries and shuffled it off to premium cable channel Showtime, which like CBS, is owned by Viacom.
""This decision is based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script," CBS said in a statement. "Although the miniseries features impressive production values and acting performances, and although the producers have a source to verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience." (The balance of Moonves statement was: "Subsequent edits that we considered did not address those concerns. A free broadcast network, available to the public airwaves, has different standards than media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect the film makers" right to have their voice heard and their film seen. As such, we have reached an agreement to license the exhibition rights for the film to Showtime, a subscriber-based, pay-cable network. We believe this is a solution that benefits everyone involved."")
"Way to set a precedent, CBS Chairman Les Moonves," McFarland continued. "Let's all remember this when the next unflattering flick about the Kennedys or, better yet, an epic made-for the Clintons comes out. If you have enough money and clout to mount a campaign of reckless fear mongering, then you, too, can censor the airwaves..."
When CBS initiated this project early this year and signed on James Brolin to play the lead, it promised the press conference that launched the project that the mini-series would be "meticulously researched." The last "meticulously researched" Reagan piece was done in 2001. It was a Showtime fabrication called "The Day Reagan Was Shot." The movie was denounced by Reagan's first National Security Advisor, Richard Allen as "invented history."
CBS, which should have learned by this time not to get involved in any project that has Barbra Streisand's scent on it, knew there would be a tremendous cost paid by them in terms of lost advertising revenue--and lost viewers--if they aired "The Reagans." CBS, over the past half dozen years has managed to do the impossible for a network that was labeled the most liberal traditional Earth-based news network only six years ago. Through its entertainment programming division, CBS captured the lion's share of the family viewing audience from competitors ABC, NBC and FOX (which, while Fox's news division has captured the conservative audience, its entertainment division caters to ethnic minorities and children of all races). CBS knows a viewer boycott at this time would be devastating to its ratings--and its commercial rates. It can't afford to alienate an audience it has taken the network a half dozen years to cultivate.
But the solution is not to transfer its travesty to its pay-for-view cousin. CBS, which approved the original script for "The Reagans" knows "The Reagans" was nothing more than a loosely disguised far-left hatchet job that was engineered by Babs, using the award-winning writing talent of a feminist activist, Elizabeth Egloff, and the hate of homosexual activists Zadan and Meron to paint Reagan as a modern day Simon Legree and Nancy Reagan as "Mommy Dearest." One imagines that if it had been Moonves sole decision, "The Reagans" would have been shelved for the next 10 to 20 years or so for some other CBS head somewhere down the road to pull it out of mothballs during a more friendly socialist era when capitalism and communism are finally merged in the "third way" global society of the New World Order.
But, "The Reagans" cost CBS $12 million. Throwing that money away out of ethical decency just isn't in CBS. By transferring the film to another Viacom subsidiary, Showtime, the network hopes to recoup some of its losses, and by selling the rights to European movie outlets, CBS expects to break even and perhaps even make a few bucks on the deal. At least at Showtime, "The Reagans" is out of reach of the boycott CBS crowd--or so Moonves thinks.
To minimize blowback from the American public--which largely views Ronald Wilson Reagan as the most admired president of the 20th century and one of the best presidents in the history of the United States, Moonves is continuing to edit out more of the Zadan-Meron-Egloff fiction that was designed to make Reagan look small and spiteful, and somehow give it a semblance of the "balance" their initial hype said existed in the movie.
As CBS got out the blue pencil, the liberals --from director Robert Allen Ackerman to Zadan and Meron to Egloff--just got out. They resigned in disgust.
Their picture of Reagan as a hateful
religious zealot who cries out that he is Antichrist is now on the
cutting room floor. It is unclear what picture of the 40th President
of the United States has emerged. But it is a safe bet that unless
CBS plans to go back to "scratch" with a team of historians and not
political activists, "The Reagans" will still be a hatchet job on
a great man who cannot speak out in his own defense. And for that,
CBS must still be held to account.
� 2003 Jon Christian Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: [email protected]
Jon's latest book "Whatever Happened To America?" is available from NewsWithViews.com
"When CBS Chairman Les Moonves gave the nod to the studio to release the first publicity snippets of "The Reagans" to the media, the PR Department at CBS chose leftist New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg as their conduit to the "small screen" audience."