CNN Smears Reagan Legacy; Touts 'A Lot of People Who Were Suffering' Under Reagan

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Carol Costello teamed up to throw water on what they saw to be a mythical legacy of President Reagan, on Friday morning. Echoing the liberal media of the Reagan years, the duo countered Republican praise for the president by casting it as "revisionist history."

"And it's almost like revisionist history here. Back in the day, there were a lot of people who were suffering under the Reagan era," Malveaux insisted about GOP candidates invoking Reagan's name on the campaign trail.

CNN did its level best to distort Reagan's legacy into something not so worth endorsing. Costello began with some sophomoric arguments, such as that Reagan's presidency was too long ago and thus would not appeal to younger voters.

"Ronald Reagan is an icon, but he was elected president in the disco era. What, three decades ago?" she opined. And she added that "Mr. Reagan raised taxes," and thus would be at odds with Republicans who want to cut taxes.

[Video below.]

CNN, of course, failed to report the big picture of Reagan's presidency. During his tenure in office, the top income tax rate fell from 70 percent to 28 percent. Reagan also cut corporate tax rates and worked to simplify the tax code with the 1986 Tax Reform Act.

Malveaux may see the Reagan era as a time where many suffered. However, middle class income increased 11 percent (after adjustment for inflation). The median family income in America rose every year from 1982 to 1989. The African-American middle class grew by a third during Reagan's presidency, inflation fell from 13.5 to 4.1 percent, and unemployment declined from 9.5 to 5.2 percent.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 27 at 11:04 a.m. EST, is as follows:

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: You know the names of the four Republican candidates that are in the race for the party's presidential nomination, right? Well, here's another name that we keep hearing pretty often on the campaign trail. Take a listen.


MALVEAUX: Alright, Ronald Reagan. He is – hadn't held office in more than 25 years, but a lot of people invoking his memory as well as his legacy. Carol Costello with the "Talk Back" question: Why Ronald Reagan this go-around?

CAROL COSTELLO: Oh Suzanne, the Reagan mantle. Newt Gingrich claims it, you know, with pride, often telling voters he worked closely and cooperatively with President Reagan back in the day. But conservatives ranging from columnist and author Ann Coulter to former Senate Majority Leader during the Reagan years, Bob Dole, say Gingrich is exaggerating. There's even a super PAC ad out now asserting Reagan was no Gingrich-lover.


COSTELLO: Gingrich isn't the first politician to fight over who carries Reagan's mantle best, but does it really mean anything? Ronald Reagan is an icon, but he was elected president in the disco era. What, three decades ago? Many young Republican voters scratch their heads. They're into Ron Paul, and he barely mentions Ronald Reagan. And you could argue President Reagan dealt with the economic woes of his time in a way Republicans are not willing to do now. Mr. Reagan raised taxes.

As the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato says, "Invoking Reagan's name doesn't tell you anything about what a candidate might do, because Ronald Reagan has become everything, even things he wasn't." Kind of like JFK. So the "Talk Back" question for you today, does invoking Reagan help a Republican candidate today?


MALVEAUX: It's interesting, Carol, you know. Because I remember Reagan, I was kind of a young person at the time. And it's almost like revisionist history here. Back in the day, there were a lot of people who were suffering under the Reagan era. Some people believe that this is now rewriting the history books, if you will, and as people's memories kind of tend to make it more, I guess, fantastical. Yeah.

COSTELLO: Well some analysts say during the primary season, it's important to mention Reagan because he appeals to older voters. During a general election, not so sure, because you want younger voters to go to the polls too to vote for you. And I remember a couple of years ago I was asking teenagers about Ronald Reagan, and one of them looked at me and said wow, you were alive when President Reagan was president?


COSTELLO: So you can see he doesn't really strike the same cord with young voters as he does with older voters.

MALVEAUX: I guess we're considered dinosaurs, huh Carol? I don't know.


- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center