I started off slightly annoyed, then pretty tired of it, but now i'm just plain pissed off over Reagan Reagan Reagan on TV. It's not just the volume of coverage (if they weren't doing this, they'd just be cranking out useless Kobe/Scott Peterson stories), and it's not just that they gloss over the unpleasant bits of his tenure. They are just plain making things up that aren't true. And not just the partisan hacks like Peggy Noonan, or George Will (read this, also from Atrios, in your spare time, for more on Will). Here's Russert on Larry King last night(via Atrios):
"One other political point, the Republicans achieved control of the United States Congress for the first time in 70 years, of both houses, under Ronald Reagan."Now, that's just not true, but of course Larry King didn't question him. One of the reasons I know that it's not true is that Republicans have been yelling for 20 years that the reason we had all those Reagan deficits was not the fault of the President (who merely proposed and signed the budgets...) but the fault of the Democratic congress.
How could Russert say such a stupid thing? Tip O'Neill (whose friendship with Reagan Russert is fond of pointing out) was Speaker for almost all of Reagan's 8 years, with Jim Wright picking up that job for a year or so at the end, and Tom Foley was the speaker from early Bush until the Gingrich revolution in 1994. Democrats had controlled the House, uninterrupted, since 1955 when Gingrich took the post. Republicans did take control of the Senate when Reagan came in in 1981, and kept it until the 86 elections, but Russert went out of his way to speak politics, to associate Reagan with Republican victory (right after discussing Bush/Kerry). Similar to the lie that Reagan left office the most popular President ever (if you said, no, it was Clinton...you were right), this one about congress will no doubt start making the rounds.