Schieffer Calls His Anti-Reagan Book ‘Accurate,’ But Admits ‘It Is Not Entirely True’

Accurate, but not true. It took 23 years, but on Sunday morning’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer contended “everything” in his 1989 book, which provided a derogatory look from the left at the Reagan presidency, was “accurate” – yet “not entirely true.”

The leading title of the book published in January of 1989, when Schieffer held the role of “Chief Washington correspondent” for CBS News, The Acting President: Ronald Reagan and the Supporting Players Who Helped Him Create the Illusion That Held America Spellbound.

The title matched the condescending view espoused by liberals at the time who attributed Ronald Reagan’s success to fooling gullible Americans through theatrics so they would accept conservative policies with which they disagreed and were supposedly detrimental to them. 

(Larger jpg image of the book cover -- this is from the later paperback edition.)

Schieffer’s comment came during a May 27 Memorial Day weekend segment with Time magazine editors Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, authors of The President’s Club, and Robert Merry, author of Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

Schieffer set up an exchange:

I think one of the lessons that probably all of us recognize is that if you -- I wrote a book once about Ronald Reagan. It came out the month that he was, that George Bush was inaugurated. The book, I think, everything in the book is accurate, but it is not entirely true, because we didn’t know at that time that the Soviet Union was going to fall in. I don’t give Reagan credit, total credit, for that but certainly his policies had a part in it. I think you really run a risk when you start trying to judge a presidency too soon.

Schieffer didn’t even wait for the end of Reagan’s time in office before sending his formulation off to the book publisher for printing.