Across America, people who love Ronald Reagan and appreciate the mountains he moved as our leader for eight years sent out a blitz of e-mails, phone calls and petitions protesting CBS's plan to air "The Reagans," a vicious, dishonest piece of "researched" character assassination. In response, CBS president Les Moonves did something both unexpected and necessary: He pulled the plug on this smello-drama.
It's unfortunate that the network couldn't have assembled the original idea of a kinder, gentler movie about the long-lasting love story of Ron and Nancy. But the ridiculous script that gurgled up through leaks, with fake-Reagan declaring he was "the Antichrist," appeared too ludicrously over the top to be located anywhere on the same planet as fairness.
They still plan to shuttle the mudslinging over to CBS's corporate cousin, the pay-cable channel Showtime. But is a pile of lies on pay-cable much better than that pile put on one of the Big Three? Showtime ought to take the clothespin off its nose long enough to ensure that the odor of malice and misrepresentation from this production is erased completely.
Despite the ahistorical talk of a new, dangerous precedent of corporate-media surrender, the only thing new about the "Reagans" controversy is that for once, conservative pressure, and the national outcry of Reagan-loving Americans, was the deciding factor in a program's cancellation. And despite Barbra Streisand's ridiculous claims that Democrats have never "muscled the First Amendment," liberal pressure has killed any number of programs.
Go back to radio giant Dr. Laura Schlessinger's attempt in 2000 to start a nationally syndicated TV chat show. I don't remember all the liberal voices now seeing a "very oppressive era" of "censorship" when the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- and speaking of anti-defamation, where were they with "The Reagans"? -- successfully pressured advertisers and stations to drop Dr. Laura, despite the fact that the show was never intended to be a daily assault on the gay left.
Go back to UPN quickly canceling the 1998 series "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer." Black groups quickly unfurled their offense at the comedy's tone-deaf premise of a black butler in Abraham Lincoln's White House. I don't remember the liberals sticking up for this show, either. They might have enjoyed the lame plotlines, like President Lincoln engaging in "telegraph sex."