'Mainstream' Quotes on Reagan from 'Good Old Days'

Last week, liberal journalists began laying the groundwork for the liberal establishment to hijack the legacy of President Reagan. In the long run, they can be expected to downplay and distort his conservative record, while trying to exploit his enduring appeal to advance distinctly un-Reaganlike causes. For that reason, it is worth keeping in mind what the liberal journalistic establishment really thought about Reagan. Here, drawn from Lexis-Nexis and the Media Research Center, are a few samples:

  • “To the self-indulgent age of the ’80s and to the characters that gave it special flavor at home–Oliver L. North and Ronald Reagan, Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Arthur Laffer and his curve, the Yuppies and the leveraged buyout dealmaker–good riddance.”
    –Then-Washington Post
    editor Haynes Johnson
    Dec. 29, 1989
  • “Reagan has become a symbol of what went wrong in the ’80s.”
    Newsweek‘s Eleanor Clift
    “The McLaughlin Group”
    Aug. 1, 1992
  • “I think the best evidence I can give that we do a lousy job covering politics is to look at the politicians: Ronald Reagan was President of us for eight years–Ronald Reagan! Reporters should have been writing for the entire eight years of his reign that this man was gone, out of it…. He should have been covered as a clown.”
    –Then-NBC reporter (and current
    New York
    Times columnist) Bob Herbert
    speaking at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
    Fall 1992
  • “Pretty simplistic. Pretty old-fashioned. . . . Nor do I think he really understands the enormous difficulty a lot of people have in just getting through life, because he’s lived in this fantasyland for so long.”
    –NBC’s Tom Brokaw
    on Reagan’s values,
    Mother Jones
    April 1983
  • “I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work, which consisted of reporting on President Reagan’s success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy, saddened me.”
    –Former New York Times
    executive editor Howell Raines
    Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis (1984)
  • “As opposed to a man like Reagan, Nixon is, was, highly regarded as a genuine statesman with a first-class mind.”
    –NBC’s Bryant Gumbel, “Today”
    April 26, 1994
  • “Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That’s one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that’s drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today.”
    –NBC’s Katie Couric
    on “Today” before interviewing
    Reagan biographer Edmund Morris, who said
    that Reagan “was a very bright man”
    Sep. 27, 1999
  • “What Reagan did was destroy the economy.”
    –Sam Donaldson
    “This Week with David Brinkley”
    March 28, 1993
  • “I think he left an uncaring society.”
    –UPI’s White House correspondent
    Helen Thomas, CBS’ “Nightwatch”
    Dec. 30, 1988
  • “It will take 100 years to get the government back into place after Reagan.”
    USA Today White House
    reporter Sarah McClendon
    Feb. 16, 1990