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Saturday, November 28, 2020
MRC Attacks Reagan Film It Hasn't Seen
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has a long tradition of attacking the alleged content of TV shows or movies it hasn't actually seen. A new Showtime documentary about Ronald Reagan is another example. The show didn't debut until Nov. 18, but the MRC already had its knives out. Brent Baker huffed in a Nov. 13 post, personally attacking the film's director, Matt Tyrnauer, since he couldn't credibly go after content he hadn't seen:

The Showtime pay cable channel, owned by ViacomCBS, has become the latest media outlet to promote specious leftist attacks meant to destroy the credibility and respect for a political leader admired by conservatives.

On Sunday night at 8 PM EST (repeating at 11:30 PM and 1:30 AM EST, matching times in the West coast feed) Showtime will debut a four-part documentary series, The Reagans, devoted to smearing President Ronald Reagan as an anti-civil rights user of racist “dog whistles” who, in the words of its director, served as a tool of “plutocrats” who “in many ways paved the way for Trump.”


Reciting a series of mendacious liberal cliches, Tyrnauer asserted: “What really happened during the Reagan presidency is ignored: the advancement of the system of the one percent, the dismantling of the New Deal social safety net. He may not have seen himself as a cruel man, but when you look at the effect of his policies, he was, and he got away with it because he knew how to manipulate the media-industrial complex with his myth. It’s time to take a fresh look at it.”

No surprise that Tyrnauer come out of a liberal political background. In his Thursday review for the New York Times, Adam Nagourney recalled: “I met Tyrnauer while covering the 1988 presidential campaign; he was an assistant at the Boston headquarters of Michael Dukakis, the Democrat who would lose to George H.W. Bush.”

Baker's post carried the declarative headline "Showtime Documentary Smears Reagan as Racist Precursor to Trump" even though, again, he can't possibly know this is true having written this five days before the documentary aired.

Clay Waters did much the same thing in a Nov. 15 post -- three days before airing:

The cultural elite are sliming the legacy of President Ronald Reagan and using him as a cudgel to attack President Trump, reducing the former president to a racist proto-Trump, while suggesting the press and academia have actually been too soft (!) on Reagan’s legacy.

New York Times California-based reporter Adam Nagourney wrote a full profile Thursday on Matt Tyrnauer and his four-part documentary “The Reagans,” which begins airing on Showtime Sunday night: “Parsing the Seeds Reagan Sowed.” The text box: “A documentary about the former president examines the practice of dog-whistle politics.”


Still, Nagourney wanted Tyrnauer’s “harsh portrait of Reagan” to spur a “reappraisal” of his legacy, before teeing the filmmaker up for more of the tiresome “dog whistle” rhetoric.

Waters then attacked a Times review of the series as being "similarly receptive to the left-wing revisionism," further attacking the reviewer of having a "liberal worldview."

Interestingly, neither Baker nor Waters specifically rebutted anything they claim is in the film beyond denouncing it as "liberal."

The sole MRC post on the series that actually appeared after its debut was a Nov. 21 post by right-wing film reviewer Christian Toto -- and even he didn't review it. Instead, he wrote, "The just-released docuseries The Reagans does little to hide its rage against the nation’s 40th president. Early reviews highlight the film’s critical take on his presidency and cultural impact." Toto linked to Baker's attack on the director, which, again, isn't an "early review" since Baker hadn't seen the film.

Rather than actually bothering to see the film he's attacking, Toto denounced it as "It’s why another Reagan project is so very necessary, at the very least to add balance to the pop culture record." He went on to gush about a Reagan biopic currently in production starring Dennis Quaid as the president, also noting that the film also features Jon Voight and Robert Davi -- though he didn't note those two are wildly conservative. He also didn't mention that the film's production had to take a break due to a coronavirus outbreak on the set.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, November 28, 2020 11:21 AM EST

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