Tear Down This Myth: Questions for Will Bunch





Will Bunch is an award-winning senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and a senior fellow with Media Matters for America. His latest book,Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy,just out in paperback, examines the process by which Ronald Reagan was subjected to a makeover after his death. I put six questions to Will Bunch about the book.


1. Your book describes itself as a deconstruction of the myth of Ronald Reagan. But how successful has the effort at myth-making been? How does Reagan now stack up among the presidents among historians and the public in general?


It’s interesting–Reagan’s reputation has risen with both the public and historians the further we get in memory from his actual presidency–which I think is a huge tribute to both the myth-making machinery created by the likes of Grover Norquist and the mainstream media’s willingness to embrace the myth. For example, in March 1990, some 13 months after Reagan left the Oval Office, Reagan’s popularity (59 percent) had dipped below that of Jimmy Carter (62 percent). Two major surveys of historians in the mid-1990s rated Reagan’s presidency as below average, not one of the all-time greats.


Ironically, it was those historian rankings that inspired Norquist, the Heritage Foundation, and others to begin what became the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project–the group that aims to name schools, roads, etc., for the Gipper in every U.S. county–and related activities. A key part of that myth-building was the notion that Reagan was largely responsible for “winning the Cold War”–a premise that was rejected, according to a USA Today poll in 1989, when it was actually happening, by Americans crediting Mikhail Gorbachev for the reforms instead. You see the fruits of that effort today; professors–arguably eager to show they’re not tools of liberal bias–now rate Reagan as high as the Top Ten of U.S. presidents, and public opinion of the 40th president is fairly high as well.



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Robert Patteson Kelso Sr. - 2/27/2010

To the editor:

“For example, in March 1990, some 13 months after Reagan left the Oval Office, Reagan’s popularity (59 percent) had dipped below that of Jimmy Carter (62 percent). Two major surveys of historians in the mid-1990s rated Reagan’s presidency as below average, not one of the all-time greats.”

Let’s see, a man’s historical accomplishments depend on polls!?! But gosh, I guess that is how we know what a great President Carter was -- he had 62% ratings?

“A key part of that myth-building was the notion that Reagan was largely responsible for “winning the Cold War”–a premise that was rejected, according to a USA Today poll in 1989, when it was actually happening, by Americans crediting Mikhail Gorbachev[!] for the reforms instead.”

Uh … From that paragon of unbiased historical chronicles, USA Today, yet? In 1989? And anyway everyone knows that Mikhail Gorbachev brought down his own nation. Uh…Is … Is that a pig I see aflying o’er yonder?

“You see the fruits of that effort today; professors–arguably eager to show they’re not tools of liberal bias–now rate Reagan as high as the Top Ten of U.S. presidents, and public opinion of the 40th president is fairly high as well.”

Professors … eager to show (you mean eager like USA Today?) …! By George, I, I … I believe it is … It’s a pig!

And alas it gets worse with this “historian,” Will Bunch, oozing bias and venom from every pore. To show where he is coming from, he's written that “if there were justice, Bush would be impeached.” Someone should remind him when he is drooling.

“Ten years ago I didn't have a blog [as I have now] where I was bashing Dick Cheney three times a week," Bunch says. Perhaps this is why Bunch (of?) tries to use Cheney to discredit Reagan, “According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former Vice President Cheney claimed during a cabinet meeting …”

If that ain’t sourcing, I don’t know what is. But this is just the tip of the Bunch iceberg. Ask him about the 9-11 Bush/Cheney conspiracy.

For now, deal me out.


Robert Kelso Sr

Professor (Retired)


Robert Patteson Kelso Sr. - 2/27/2010

To the editor:

“For example, in March 1990, some 13 months after Reagan left the Oval Office, Reagan’s popularity (59 percent) had dipped below that of Jimmy Carter (62 percent). Two major surveys of historians in the mid-1990s rated Reagan’s presidency as below average, not one of the all-time greats.”

Let’s see, a man’s historical accomplishments depend on polls!?! But gosh, I guess that is how we know what a great President Carter was -- he had 62% ratings?

“A key part of that myth-building was the notion that Reagan was largely responsible for “winning the Cold War”–a premise that was rejected, according to a USA Today poll in 1989, when it was actually happening, by Americans crediting Mikhail Gorbachev[!] for the reforms instead.”

Uh … From that paragon of unbiased historical chronicles, USA Today, yet? In 1989? And anyway everyone knows that Mikhail Gorbachev brought down his own nation. Uh … Is … Is that a pig I see aflying o’er yonder?

“You see the fruits of that effort today; professors–arguably eager to show they’re not tools of liberal bias–now rate Reagan as high as the Top Ten of U.S. presidents, and public opinion of the 40th president is fairly high as well.”

Professors … eager to show (you mean 'eager' like USA Today?) …! By George, I, I … I believe it is … It’s a pig!

And alas it gets worse with this “historian,” Will Bunch, oozing bias and venom from every pore. To show where he is coming from, he's written that “if there were justice, Bush would be impeached.” Someone should remind him when he is drooling.

“Ten years ago I didn't have a blog [as I have now] where I was bashing Dick Cheney three times a week," Bunch says. Perhaps this is why Bunch (of?) tries to use Cheney to discredit Reagan, “According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former Vice President Cheney claimed during a cabinet meeting …”

If that ain’t sourcing, I don’t know what is. But this is just the tip of the Bunch iceberg. Ask him about the 9-11 Bush/Cheney conspiracy.


For now, deal me out.


Robert Kelso Sr

Professor (Retired)

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