Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995

donate.jpg (7556 bytes)
Make a secure online contribution
Go to to post comments

Get email updates:

RSS Feed
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Google

contactContact Us

Order Now


Age of Obama
Barack Obama's presidency

Bush End Game
George W. Bush's presidency since 2007

Bush - Second Term
George W. Bush's presidency from 2005-06

Bush - First Term
George W. Bush's presidency, 2000-04

Who Is Bob Gates?
The secret world of Defense Secretary Gates

2004 Campaign
Bush Bests Kerry

Behind Colin Powell's Legend
Gauging Powell's reputation.

The 2000 Campaign
Recounting the controversial campaign.

Media Crisis
Is the national media a danger to democracy?

The Clinton Scandals
Behind President Clinton's impeachment.

Nazi Echo
Pinochet & Other Characters.

The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics.

Contra Crack
Contra drug stories uncovered

Lost History
America's tainted historical record

The October Surprise "X-Files"
The 1980 election scandal exposed.

From free trade to the Kosovo crisis.

Other Investigative Stories



Reagan, Media and Heroes

By Robert Parry
April 13, 2009

When we write about a U.S. media culture that reflexively bends to the Right, some people dispute our analysis. After all, they’ve heard those endless complaints about the “liberal media.”

But there was a telling example of that rightward knee-jerk thinking in Monday night’s “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.” In a segment on the heroism behind the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, CBS producers incongruously inserted a quote from Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Address.

“Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to look,” Reagan said in the speech 28 years ago. CBS producers used the clip though it had no particular connection to the issue at hand.

Indeed, Reagan wasn’t even talking about the sort of extraordinary heroism displayed by Phillips in trading himself for the safety of his crew or by the Navy SEAL snipers who killed the three pirates to free Phillips. Reagan was saying that Americans who simply go about their normal lives are heroes.

“You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates,” Reagan continued. “Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter — and they are on both sides of that counter. …

“I have used the words ‘they’ and ‘their’ in speaking of these heroes. I could say ‘you’ and ‘your’ because I am addressing the heroes of whom I speak — you, the citizens of this blessed land.”

In other words, Reagan was saying that all Americans are heroes, a flattering point for his listeners even though it rendered the concept of “hero” virtually meaningless.

So why would CBS News even think to go back and grab a 28-year-old quote from Ronald Reagan to use in a piece about events on Sunday in the Indian Ocean? The answer would seem to be that it never hurts your career to cite the great and wonderful Reagan.

Who knows? Maybe at some point the producers feared they might stumble into the crosshairs of the right-wing attack machine – as four CBS producers did when they got fired over a 2004 segment on “60 Minutes II” regarding George W. Bush blowing off his National Guard duty.

Though the piece was truthful – Bush did duck his service – the producers hadn’t fully vetted some memos allegedly typed by Bush’s commanding officer. For this transgression, the four producers, including Mary Mapes who had helped expose the Abu Ghraib scandal, were humiliated and fired. CBS News anchor Dan Rather also saw his career destroyed.

So the “Evening News” producers on Monday might have thought they were banking a little credibility with the Right by demonstrating obeisance to the Right’s favorite icon. Better safe than sorry.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

homeBack to Home Page is a product of The Consortium for Independent Journalism, Inc., a non-profit organization that relies on donations from its readers to produce these stories and keep alive this Web publication.

To contribute, click here. To contact CIJ, click here.