Ronald Reagan endured harsh, vitriolic rhetoric from journalists throughout his career, but that hasn't stopped some in the media from lecturing present-day conservatives on who best represents the legacy of the 40th President. This occurred even as the country celebrated Reagan's 100th birthday.
On Saturday's World News, John Berman filed a sarcastic report where he knocked 2012 hopefuls for trying to align themselves with the former President: "There is Reagan Airport, the Reagan Building, the Reagan Library. Then there is the church of Reagan, where candidates worship."
He critiqued, "In fact, you might say there is a Republican primary and a Reagan primary. Who can be the most Reagan-y?" Andrea Mitchell appeared on Meet the Press and fretted, "People are trying- Republicans in particular, obviously- trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own political purposes now."
Earlier, on Sunday's Today, Mitchell lectured conservatives about what Reagan would say today: "He would be absolutely appalled at the state of our politics, at the sort of vile rhetoric, at the inability of Congress to make deals. He always managed to lift himself above that prosaic daily back and forth."
On Sunday's GMA, David Kerley used Reagan's liberal son, Ron, to dismiss Palin: "Reagan's son Ron - who has written a new book about his father at 100 - was having none of that, saying Palin is a soap opera, not serious, with nothing in common with his father."
"After serving two terms, Reagan retired to the ranch. He rejoined a private citizenry that was much changed. Reaganomics had started a shift that would continue through the 1980s, a realignment under which America’s rich and powerful grew richer and more powerful, as the disenfranchised sank further. In 1987, 20 percent of U.S. children lived in poverty, representing a 24 percent increase during the Reagan years. In 1989 the wealthiest 40 percent of U.S. families controlled 68 percent of the wealth, while the poorest 40 percent controlled 15 percent: the biggest gap in four decades for which statistics were kept."
– Robert Sullivan and the editors of Life in a special "Ronald Reagan at 100" issue released this month.
A transcript of the World News segment, which aired at 6:45pm EST on February 5, follows:
SHARYN ALFONSI: To mark President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday tomorrow, the Super Bowl will include a special tribute to him before kickoff. He was the guiding spirit of the 1980s, But the Gipper's influence may be even greater today. Here's John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN: There is Reagan Airport, the Reagan Building, the Reagan Library. Then there is the church of Reagan where candidates worship.
SARAH PALIN: One of my heroes and many of yours, Ronald Reagan.
TIM PAWLENTY: The brilliance of Ronald Reagan.
MITT ROMNEY: Take inspiration from what Ronald Reagan taught us.
BERMAN: Some Democrats have been know to do it too.
BARACK OBAMA: I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America.
KEN DUBERSTEIN: Everyone tries to grab the Reagan mantle because it's one of strong leadership.
REAGAN: Go ahead, make my day.
DUBERSTEIN: Of big ideas.
REAGAN: We must halt this fiscal self destruction and restore sanity to our economic system.
DUBERSTEIN: Of bold strokes.
REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
BERMAN :In fact, you might say there is a Republican primary and a Reagan primary. Who can be the most Reagan-y?
BERMAN: Mitt Romney's foreign policy/campaign book No Apology has 11 Reagan references. Tim Pawlenty's Courage to Stand, 24 Reagans. Sarah Palin's America by Heart, 33 Reagans. Only to be narrowly beaten by herself, Palin's Going Rogue has 34 Reagan references. And that isn't even counting a book from Newt Gingrich exclusively about Ronald Reagan. So who is the person on the planet who might be closest to Ronald Wilson Reagan?
DUBERSTEIN: I'm not sure anyone can succeed in being Ronald Reagan.
A transcript of Mitchell's comments on Meet the Press and Today is below:
Meet the Press
ANDREA MITCHELL: I mean, he said, "This is--the sound you hear around my feet is the concrete breaking around my feet," whatever the exact words were. People are trying--Republicans in particular, obviously--trying to appropriate Ronald Reagan for their own political purposes now. But his vision and his ability to work across party lines was so far broader. He stuck to his principles. He was authentic, which is I think one of the reasons why he's so admired after all of these years. But he knew when he needed to compromise, and he did. And he reached out with Democrats, not just the boll weevils who were the conservative Texas Democrats, but with Tip O'Neill and liberal Massachusetts Democrats as well when he needed to get something done with the help the really--the guidance of people like Jim Baker. But the genius of it all was that Ed Meese was there, there were conservatives there, and, and Jim Baker, more moderate Republicans. And it was a bit messy at times, but he had a range of views. And Nancy Reagan bringing even more people in to the--into play.
JENNA WOLFE: You talk about him being so good with compromise. He did cross the aisle when it came to partisan politics oftentimes. What do you think he would say if he were alive today about the state of affairs in Washington today?
MITCHELL: He would be appalled. I mean, he loved politics, he loved people, he always, you know, got together with Democrats. After 5 or 6:00 he used to say that he could have a drink with Tip O'Neill. He would be absolutely appalled at the state of our politics, at the sort of vile rhetoric, at the inability of Congress to make deals. He always managed to lift himself above that prosaic daily back and forth. And I remember once when he was trying to cut a deal with his own House Republicans on tax measures and he went directly from an event in North Carolina where he was talking about fallen troops and came directly to Congress, talked about patriotism and then said, 'OK, fellas, what about that tax deal?' And, of course, the Republicans all caved in, his own party. He always managed to find a way, a message to reach across to people. He had a tough times and a lot of failures, Lebanon and others, Iran-Contra, but he managed to fight back, and largely with the help of Nancy Reagan on his side. She saw the pitfalls and--on both the Cold War, the relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev and also the fight to get back on his feet after Iran-Contra. She was the one who saw the way to reach out to Democrats and make compromises.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.