TV critics were livid. Robert Bianco of USA Today asserted: "If nothing else, this act of creative sabotage should put to rest the idea that the media are liberal." Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News snapped, "If Hitler had more friends, CBS wouldn't have aired (its Hitler miniseries) either."
The media went to academics like Martin Kaplan of USC (a former Mondale speechwriter), who lamented, "There's a well-organized conservative movement in this country that's in charge of its version of the truth, and they swing a big bat." Syracuse professor Robert Thompson, an omnipresent TV expert for TV news shows, said conservatives would keep on killing programs: "There's going to be a battle cry 'Remember the Reagans' that's going to be like 'Remember the Alamo.' The idea is we got 'The Reagans' off the air, now let's see what we can get off the air next."
None of these critics seemed to care that leaked scripts clearly demonstrated "The Reagans" had plenty of fiction, not "unpleasant truths." Reagan declaring heartlessly that AIDS patients deserved to die. Reagan naming the names of communists to Congress. Reagan aides urging surgeons to lie about Reagan's condition after he was shot. Nancy Reagan as a pill-abusing Mommie Dearest. Even Reagan sadly declaring, "I am the Antichrist."
In the case of the Kennedy miniseries, the lobbying from the Kennedy family of the media companies owning the History Channel was publicly known. Maria Shriver pressed leaders of NBC Universal, where she worked for many years. Caroline Kennedy pressed Disney, since she has a deal in the works to produce a 50-year anniversary book about her father for Disney's book division. Nobody squealed about these women generating a "Soviet-style chill."
In 2003, then-CNBC anchor Brian Williams asked a TV writer, "Do you believe what has happened here with this mini-series on CBS amounts to extortion?" Katie Couric insisted then that "a lot of people are asking whether the man once known as the Teflon President remains untouchable." But when the Kennedys squash a miniseries, Williams and Couric had nothing to say.
Hollywood tolerates all kinds of dishonest and exploitative trash made for TV and the multiplex by insisting on its precious artistic license, including the anti-Reagan garbage. But when "America's royal family" picks up the telephone, suddenly "art" is as disposable as dirty linen.
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