By Michael Reagan
October 24, 2003
Ronald Reagan, about to be portrayed as an unfeeling, forgetful conservative, had the biggest heart of any President in America's history - so big that CBS had no trouble finding it when they decided to plunge a dagger into it.
The liberal network had the gall to allow a scriptwriter to put words in my father's mouth he never spoke - words that pictured him as having no sympathy for AIDS victims.
Now CBS's defenders are trying to excuse the network for its shameful fictionalization of my dad's life by noting that the miniseries "The Reagans" gives him credit for many of the great things he did, such as winning the cold war, but they cannot gloss over the fact that the Ronald Reagan shown in the miniseries is not the real Ronald Reagan.
They want to talk about his forgetfulness, but he never forgot the people of this country. He gave us all a tax break, created tens of thousands of jobs, and restored our faith in ourselves. He never forgot the hostages in Iran who were freed the day that he was sworn in as president.
He never forgot the suffering people behind the Iron Curtain, living in squalor and poverty and under the gun for all those many years and he did everything he could to free them.
And he never forgot who he was, and where he had come from. He remembered being poor. He remembered struggling.
The important things he needed to know he never forgot.
On the day he took office, right after he was told that the hostages in Iran had been freed, he called former President Carter and told him, "You're the one who did the work, you're the one that did so much to free those hostages. You are the one who should get the credit." And he gave the former president Air Force One and sent him to Germany to welcome the hostages. That was the heart of Ronald Reagan. That story, like so many others, was never told because my Dad didn't trumpet his good deeds.
The miniseries won't tell you the whole story about my dad's visit to Japan when he learned that on the 747 jet he was traveling only the first class section would be occupied. He went out and got families of service men and women serving in Japan and filled up the back of the plane with them so they could visit their loved ones they hadn't seen for over a year. They won't tell you how he took them to Japan and brought them back home on the plane without it costing them one cent. That was also the heart of Ronald Reagan.
There are so many stories you don't hear from the people who are hateful, the people who are spiteful, the people who are jealous, the people who never liked Ronald Reagan.
In a column last July I wrote that CBS was planning to produce a miniseries on my father, and noted that while I hadn't seen the script, I understood it had been leaked around Hollywood and was anything but friendly to my dad.
After all, Hollywood has never warmed up to him, even when he went to bat for actors as president of the Screen Actor's Guild and won them the right to get residual payments when their movies were rerun a right he refused to give to himself because he thought that this would be a conflict of interest. So his movies alone are exempt from residuals. They also forgot that they elected him president of the Guild nine times.
Moreover, not once - ever - did Hollywood even think about giving my dad an award in recognition of his many services to the film industry and the people who work in it. So I wouldn't expect them to do a positive miniseries about somebody who gave them residuals so they could take the summers off.
And they also forgot to go
to the people who knew him best - his family. Nobody at CBS came
near any of us. They were probably afraid we'd tell the truth
about the heart of Ronald Reagan and that would have spoiled
their plans to show him as they wanted to see him and not as
he was a wonderful caring human being and one of the greatest
and kindest men ever to serve as President of the United States.
Mike's column is distributed to subscribers for publication by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc.