If Ronald Reagan were still in his prime, presidential 1980s form, he'd be saying to Hollywood: "There you go again."
There are two kinds of films about presidents. There are documentaries, which usually try to dwell in factual examination, and fictional movies, which have a habit of wildly making things up to satisfy the demands of making either effective entertainment or effective propaganda.
Now, CBS is preparing a dramatic and quite fictional miniseries for November titled "The Reagans." CBS promised reporters it would be "meticulously researched." Researched fiction, that is. The last Reagan-fictionalizing offender was Showtime, whose 2001 film on "The Day Reagan Was Shot" was denounced by Dick Allen, Reagan's first national security adviser, as a parade of invented "history" that never happened, like Reagan aides James Baker and Michael Deaver urging surgeons to lie about Reagan's condition. Hollywood should never call its historical fiction "meticulously researched." Rather, they should be forced to carry a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen saying, "We made some of this stuff up."
Half of our dismay at this messy crossroads of entertainment and propaganda should be directed at Hollywood, which should be greeted with a shaker of salt every time a movie is "Based On a True Story." The other half should be directed at history-challenged Americans, those who could watch hysterical "history" films like Oliver Stone's "JFK" and actually swallow the nonsense. To those Americans who get their history from the movies (and their news from the late-night comedians), we can only plead: Read a book, or a newspaper, or else please don't bother to vote.
America needs to remember the lessons that the leadership of Ronald Reagan taught us, but no one should expect those lessons to come from leftist Hollywood. Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times got a preview of the script for "The Reagans" and noted the script mentions nothing about the historic economic recovery of the 1980s or America's delivery from Jimmy Carter. It was somehow missed by those meticulous researchers.