Reagan in 1966, Trump in 2016: Both Showed Much of the Press Wearing Blinders

Facebook promotion by the Washington Post of today’s Style piece about  CNN’s “The Reagan Show”  drew this response from Del Wilber, a longtime Postie who now reports for the Los Angeles Times:

This kind of column drives me nuts. Yes, he was an actor (better than most give him credit for). But he was also a two-term governor of America’s most populous state.

Wilber is pointing out that the Style column, by Steve Dollar, and the CNN show both ignore Ronald Reagan’s election as governor of California in 1966 and his re-election, by 500,000 votes, in 1970.

Reagan then served eight years in the White House, winning re-election in 1984 by 17 million votes. And, yes, he always was underestimated by liberals—and much of the press—as just a smooth-talking actor.

As today’s Post story points out:

At the end of his presidency, Ronald Reagan confessed to David Brinkley of ABC News that “there have been times in this office when I wondered how you could do the job if you hadn’t been an actor.”

It’s a signal moment in “The Reagan Show,” a documentary gleaned from endless hours of White House archival footage. The comment underscores how the former B-movie cowboy forever altered the nation’s highest office with his savvy use of the televised image.

In hindsight, the filmmakers suggest, this also anticipated the arrival of Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

The liberal underestimation of Reagan goes back a long way. In 1966 I was editing a group of weekly papers near San Francisco and our political reporter wasn’t shy about his liberal tendencies. The then-governor of California was Edmund “Pat” Brown, a Democrat too moderate for our political reporter.

Our reporter said he hoped Pat Brown would lose in November to his Republican opponent, a movie actor. He saw Ronald Reagan as a political joke, much the way liberal press has seen Donald Trump.

Our political reporter’s 1966 prediction:  “That guy [Reagan] will be such as disaster as governor that next time we’ll be able to elect a real liberal.”


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