For the second time in less than 24 hours, ABC identified Michael Reagan as a "conservative," but failed to identify the left-wing ideology of Ron Reagan Jr. Monday's Good Morning America played up the "clash" between the adopted son Michael and Ron, author of a new book that claims his father, the 40th president, had Alzheimer's during his time in the White House.
Correspondent Claire Shipman explained, "It's another feud in an often fractious family. In a series of tweets over the weekend, Michael Reagan, the former President's son and a conservative commentator, accused his stepbrother Ron of trying to sell out his father to sell books."
As the MRC's Brent Baker pointed out, Ron Reagan Jr. previously hosted a show on the left-wing MSNBC and now appears on the network to provide liberal commentary. On Sunday's World News, reporter David Muir also identified the politics of Michael, but not Ron Reagan.
Shipman played clips from a 20/20 appearance last Friday in which Reagan Jr. promoted his book and asserted that he simply had an "inkling" that his father had Alzheimer's in the White House. (In the actual 20/20 segment, Elizabeth Vargas, unlike Muir and Shipman, referred to Ron Reagan Jr. As a "Democrat." That part, however, didn't air on GMA.)
Ron Reagan is not a medical doctor and Shipman didn't point out that there's evidence for this claim. Instead, she parroted, "Ron also writes 'I've seen no evidence that my father, or anyone else, was aware of his medical condition while he was in office. Had the diagnosis been made in, say, 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have.'"
The liberal author will appear on Tuesday's GMA to promote his book. Will his ideology be mentioned by host George Stephanopoulos?
A transcript of the January 17 segment, which aired at 7:11am EST, follows:
ROBERTS: And, George, we're going top move on to the family feud, the feud between the Reagan brothers. In an exclusive with ABC News, Ron Reagan says in his new book that he saw early signs of Alzheimer's while his father was still in office, still in the White House. Michael Reagan says he's wrong. Claire Shipman has more.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: It's another feud in an often fractious family. In a series of tweets over the weekend, Michael Reagan, the former President's son and a conservative commentator, accused his stepbrother Ron of trying to sell out his father to sell books. He added, "My brother was an embarrassment to his father when he was alive and today he became an embarrassment to his mother." The quarrel began after Ron Reagan said in his new book that he saw the President exhibit what may have been signs of Alzheimer's disease in the White House. He spoke to 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas.
ELIZABETH VARGAS: You say he was sitting at the phone making phone calls and he was reading note cards like he had prompts?
RON REAGAN JR: Yeah, and that bothered me. These seemed like conversations that wouldn't really require that.
SHIPMAN: He says he was troubled by one of the President's 1984 debate performances and what concerned him to spend a day shadowing his dad at work.
VARGAS: Did he not remember things or was he forgetful?
REAGAN: No, it wasn't anything- No, it wasn't anything that obvious. It wasn't like 'Oh, my God. He doesn't remember he's President.' It was just I had an inkling that something else might be going on.
SHIPMAN: Ron also writes "I've seen no evidence that my father, or anyone else, was aware of his medical condition while he was in office. Had the diagnosis been made in, say, 1987, would he have stepped down? I believe he would have." The former President was diagnosed with Alzheimer's six years after leaving office, writing an eloquent letter to the nation saying, "I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy this painful experience." She said good-bye to him in this heartbreaking scene seven years ago.
NANCY REAGAN: We learned a terrible pain and loneliness that must be endured as each day brings another reminder of this very long goodbye.
SHIPMAN: The family at that moment in solidarity. Not any more. The half brothers didn't get along well when their father was alive. They haven't talked since shortly after his death and now, Robin, I think their relationship is likely to be defined by very public sparring.
ROBERTS: It does seem that way. All right, Claire, thank you very much. And we're going to have much more on the story when Ron Reagan joins us live right here on GMA.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.