The American Experience: Season 10, Episode 11

Reagan: Part I (23 Feb. 1998)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 106 users  
Reviews: 4 user

When he left the White House in 1989, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the century. A former Hollywood star and seemingly simple man, Reagan was consistently ... See full summary »

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Title: Reagan: Part I (23 Feb 1998)

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Episode credited cast:
Himself / Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
James Baker III ...
Helen Caldicott ...
Robert Dallek ...
Patti Davis ...
Michael Deaver ...
Ed Meese ...
Edmund Morris ...
Lyn Nofziger ...
Maureen Reagan ...
Ron Reagan ...
Himself (archive footage)
Donald Regan ...


When he left the White House in 1989, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the century. A former Hollywood star and seemingly simple man, Reagan was consistently underestimated by his opponents. One by one, he overcame them all. Incorporating interviews with key political insiders, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and members of the Reagan family, "Reagan" explores the man who saw America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender. The program follows Reagan's life from his itinerant boyhood in Illinois to his battle with "communist agitators" in the Screen Actors Guild and his dramatic 1980 victory over Jimmy Carter. Only 70 days into his presidency, a would-be assassin's bullet left him more debilitated than anyone knew. Reagan's massive military buildup and bold challenges to the Soviet Union caused his critics to portray him as a trigger-happy cowboy. But he negotiated deep cuts in nuclear weapons and resolved to end the Cold War. ... Written by Fiona Kelleghan <>

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23 February 1998 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Typical Left-Wing Bias
31 October 2008 | by (Staten Island, NY) – See all my reviews

The 4/10 rating isn't for Ronald Reagan, who is my favorite POTUS. The rating is for taxpayer-funded, forever leftist PBS who presented it.

As Nixon said, history is written by liberals. I can extrapolate Nixon's statement to include documentaries as well. The knocks on President Reagan during this are unbelievable: three times they showed the largest anti-nukes rally in New York as if that was a watershed moment in Reagan's Presidency (guess who was right after all?). They completely glossed over the fact that Reagan won the biggest electoral landslide in history. They also glossed over the greatest economic expansion in history to date. Probably even more insulting was that they proposed that Reagan got the idea for the Strategic Defense Initiative from one of his old war movies.

I remember when this first aired, a lot of conservatives were praising it. I think if you look at it closer, the slights to the greatest POTUS of the 20th Century are pretty frequent in this bio.

By the way, speaking of typical left-wing bias when Reagan's official biographer, Edmund Morris, was discussing the aftermath of the assassination attempt he mentioned that Reagan's mind began to decline "slowly and steadily". Fair enough. But the New York Times shortly after the program appeared seized upon this comment and editorialized about Reagan's mental status during his Presidency, quoting Morris yet somehow omitted the word "slowly". You can look it up. This is from the so-called "paper of record". Whose record? Karl Marx?

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