The Reagans

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 6, 2003

The CBS miniseries "The Reagans" has been nixed apparently after an outcry from Republicans, the right end of the blogosphere and talk radio. CBS denies outside pressure resulted in the decision to move the series to the premium cable channel Showtime -- where it will find far fewer potential viewers, and doesn't depend on ad revenue.

CBS chief Leslie Moonves said that the show was pulled because it wasn't "fair."

"We had promised the public that we would do a fair version of the Reagans' life," he said. "We would show the warts, but we would show the good stuff, too. Upon seeing the finished product, I felt the movie was quite biased against the Reagans. And it wasn’t the movie I promised the public."

Moonves said he sent the film to sister company Showtime, a pay cable network, because "as a broadcast network, we feel it's a public trust. We have a news division. We do have to be fair in what we show, and a pay-cable network can be a little bit more biased in what they show. It can be an opinion piece. We can't do that."

Both Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are crediting the American public (or in O'Reillyspeak "the folks") with getting the miniseries -- which had all the appearances of a left-wing hatchet job -- exiled to pay television.

I'm going to have to disagree with the majority on the right who think that their outrage and organization somehow created this result.

This decision was made for one very simple reason: Money.

If Moonves had had his brain in gear back when he first approved this movie -- and had monitored it as it went into production -- he would have scrapped it long before it got to this point.

Think about it. CBS's demographic is:

  • older
  • red state
  • right-of-center

What have CBS's most popular shows been over the past decade? "Touched by an Angel" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Both programs with heavy religious themes.

CBS's viewers are people who like Ronald Reagan. If you want to keep your job, you don't purposely go out of your way to offend them, which is what this miniseries would have done.


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November 2003



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