It’s a classic liberal media move to have sudden new respect for a Republican president…who is no longer in office. And that’s what happened on Thursday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports as journalists longed for the days of “gentleman” Ronald Reagan and the way he treated the press. Reacting to Donald Trump revoking the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta, the New York Times’s Peter Baker got nostalgic: “Ronald Reagan never threw out Sam Donaldson. George W. Bush never threw out Helen Thomas.”
Veteran liberal journalist Andrea Mitchell got in on the act, pining for the Gipper: “Ronald Reagan, as tough as the press corps was... he never took the action against us. And he went through a lot of difficult moments with Iran Contra. And we asked those questions, and he was always a gentleman about it.”
Showing archival footage, Mitchell even seemed to long for the days of how Richard Nixon treated the press: “And we are going to show you a little bit of Richard Nixon and Dan rather and a moment back there in the '70s in Houston when Dan Rather was asking a question, and Nixon just put him down.”
Mitchell, who wasn’t very nice to Reagan when he was president, now constantly uses the conservative icon to bash current Republicans. In 2015, she looked back at Reagan as a gold standard because he “compromised with Democrats.”
NBC reporter Peter Alexander offered an odd solution for the Acosta problem. Just stop calling on him?: “If he had an issue with Jim Acosta, and we know that the two of them have tussled in the past, he could have called on somebody else. He didn’t have to call on Jim.”
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
Andrea Mitchell Reports
PETER ALEXANDER: And the bottom line was, as we witnessed his take place yesterday the President came in looking for the fight. He believes that the press as his foil reflects well on him, is good on him and makes the base like him more. If he had an issue with Jim Acosta, and we know that the two of them have tussled in the past, he could have called on somebody else. He didn’t have to call on Jim. But the President goes in there knowing that this is going to play well for him in his mind. And frankly, Jim Acosta thinks may play well for him as well, asking tough questions of the President.
PETER BAKER: You don’t have to agree with the way that Jim handled his questioning. You don’t have to defend his approach necessarily, to say this is not the right thing. There is not a rudeness exception to the First Amendment. If you don’t like rude reporters, then don’t become president of the United States, because as you say, Andrea, we have seen a number of them. Ronald Reagan never threw out Sam Donaldson. George W. Bush never threw out Helen Thomas. They took the questions and they weren’t such fragile flowers that they couldn’t stand up for themselves.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Indeed. And we are going to show you a little bit of Richard Nixon and Dan rather and a moment back there in the '70s in Houston when Dan Rather was asking a question, and Nixon just put him down. And you know, presidents have that platform, and they can hurt the press as much as they like, but I have to tell you that Ronald Reagan, as tough as the press corps was, Peter Alexander, he never took the action against us, and he went through a lot of difficult moments with Iran Contra. And we asked those questions, and he was always a gentleman about it.
PETER ALEXANDER: Andrea, the point is that on this broadcast, you have been talking about the significant news of this day, and the recent now new departure of Jeff Sessions, the reactions to the midterms and what I ss about the president's standing and the standings of the real check on the power to Democrats. But the bottom line is that it was a convenient distraction just hours, within hours of the major headlines coming out. And again today, the White House putting out a new statement on this topic, because they would rather talk about than the headlines where they are facing new scrutiny right now.