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Tags: alter | nancy | ron | stahl | tyrnauer

'The Reagans' Documentary Proves Itself Worthless

journalist lesley stahl

Lesley Stahl speaks onstage during an interview - Oct. 10, 2019 - in New York City. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Student Leadership Network)

Craig Shirley By Friday, 20 November 2020 05:23 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Well, that didn’t take long.

After watching just one episode of Showtime’s new documentary series "The Reagans," I can safely say it’s worth about as much as the garbage I took out the other day.

Actually, now that I think about it, the trash I took has some value. It can be recycled.

"The Reagans" on the other hand cannot. Yes, it's that bad.

My instincts and prior knowledge told me this travesty, directed by left wing Vanity Fair alum Matt Tyrnauer, would be bad.

I’m surprised by how right I turned out to be.

Showtime and the director have billed this as a work of sound historical research.

What it actually is constituted two hours of knee jerk liberals and so-called "journalists" (translation: more liberals) with axes to grind taking as many pot shots at Ronald and Nancy Reagan as they can within the allotted episode run-time.

First there’s Leslie Stahl, putting words in Reagan’s mouth that Reagan never said.

But how would she know? She’s just read a teleprompter.

Then there’s Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, who "talks" to us about ethics during one of her appearances.

Really? You want to talk ethics? How ethical is it that you recently wrote a slavish "piece" about Biden's campaign manager?

That manager, by the way, is her son’s boss.

Ethics? Ethical?

Jonathan Alter wasn’t any better. He spent most of his screen time seemingly making it up as he went along. Alter has never written a book about Reagan. But he did find time to write two "toadying" books about Barack Obama.

Of note, Alter's own online bio labels him a "liberal/progressive."

The crown jewel — so to speak — may be Ron Reagan, the prodigal son who the documentary erroneously calls "Jr.," which by the way he isn’t.

Ron spends his time in the sunshine making all sorts of not so thinly veiled insults to his late father. The worst of these has to be when he says he doesn’t want to insult his father, then proceeds to insult his father by saying, for instance, Reagan adopted conservatism during the decline of his acting career because it was a simpler way of thinking.

What Ron actually means is that his father, and all conservatives by extent, are simpletons.

What was it President Reagan once wrote in his diaries? "Insanity is hereditary, you catch it from your children."

Reagan had other insightful observations about his children, especially Ron.

But wait Matt, you say, there are conservatives in this documentary?

True, but I have to wonder how many of them were duped into doing this documentary.

Such conservatives are featured purely as tokens — window dressing.

It’s simply Tyrnauer’s way to give the average viewer the appearance that he wasn’t trying to smear Reagan for what he’s worth.

And even then, Tyrnauer uses Colin Powell to go after Reagan, playing a clip of Powell saying Reagan’s people had to make sure he didn’t go off script, to "protect him from himself" infering it was his job.

So, how would Colin Powell know about Reagan’s communications?

I didn’t realize that was part of his portfolio. His job was as a messenger, to deliver the overnight global national security assessments to President Reagan.

Little more.

It’s a fine way for Powell to treat someone who plucked him from obscurity. 

The worst sin this first episode commits is its treatment of Nancy Reagan, a pillar in both Reagan’s personal and political life.

First, it seems makes out Nancy to be a devious, conniving social climber who latched onto Reagan as a way to advance herself, but later on it makes it seem like her one goal in life was to be a placid housewife.

I knew Mrs. Reagan, and she was neither of these things, but the documentary doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind on which Nancy it wants to portray. 

"The Reagans" is sadly everything I anticipated it would be: a biased and selectively edited work with peculiar, sinister music and an agenda in mind.

It will be fascinating to watch the next three episodes. Perhaps, after such a poor start, it’ll be an achievement in filmmaking to watch each episode get progressively worse.

All these documentaries are awful but liberals keep mindlessly churning them out.

They remind me of what Dorothy Parker once when asked if she was going to join Alcoholics Anonymous: "Certainly not. They want me to stop now."

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports More Here.

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It will be fascinating to watch the next three episodes. Perhaps, after such a poor start, it’ll be an achievement in filmmaking to watch each episode get progressively worse.
alter, nancy, ron, stahl, tyrnauer
Friday, 20 November 2020 05:23 PM
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