Reagan Portrayed Wrong In Oprah’s New Movie, The Butler

Reagan Portrayed Wrong In Oprah’s New Movie, The Butler

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley goes over the factually wrong items in The Butler. The screenwriter is the same person who tried to make Sarah Palin look bad in “Game Change” and George Bush 43 look bad in “Recount” so it is ideologically driven.

Ed Meese weighs in also

By Andrea Billups- Via Newsmax-

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III says the portrayal of former President  Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy as racially insensitive in the new movie “Lee  Daniels’ The Butler” is not  accurate.

Meese has joined with other  supporters of Reagan who have been angered with the film’s claim that Reagan was  indifferent to South Africa’s apartheid and the producer’s decision to have  liberal Jane Fonda offer an unflattering portrayal of Nancy Reagan.

“Ronald Reagan did not have a racially discriminatory bone in his body from his  very youngest days,” Meese told Newsmax. “He was opposed to any type of  discrimination or mistreatment of anyone on the basis of race, or quite frankly  any other innate characteristic.”

Meese said the true Ronald Reagan “treated everyone extremely well, including  people who were in a position of assisting him in one way or other.”

“His whole administration was particularly loved by the people who worked in  the White House and who served several administrations,” said Meese, who was a  gubernatorial aide to Reagan in Sacramento before coming to the White House  following the 1980 presidential election. “He was always very polite, very  accommodating and very much interested in them personally.”

Meese, who  currently serves as the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus at the  Heritage Foundation, said he has not seen the film, but from what he has heard  about the movie, the portrayal seems unfair.

“I think it is important  for any president to be accurately portrayed, whether it is in books, in films,  or on TV. Any disparagement or unfair treatment by a film like this is  unfortunate,” Meese said.

Director Lee Daniels’ new film is heating up  the summer box office — opening this weekend at No. 1 and earning $25 million  for the Weinstein Co. — but a growing number of Reagan supporters say they are  hot over the film’s dishonest portrayal of the conservative president’s record  on race.

Grove City College Professor Paul Kengor, a Reagan biographer,  sparked a backlash last week against the film’s “ideologically driven fiction,”  dubbing it “Hollywood malpractice,” even as others were mentioning the story of  a White House butler who served eight presidents as a possible Oscar  contender.

“The screenwriter and makers of this film better have some  hard evidence for this. I hope they have at least some quotes somewhere from the  butler saying he felt like a prop,” Kengor told the Hollywood Reporter. “If they  don’t, then they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Since then, other  Reagan book authors, associates and conservatives have stepped up to defend  Reagan, calling the portrayal a cheap shot against a president they said  consistently spoke out for equality.

Craig Shirley, a conservative  public relations executive who wrote two Reagan books and is at work on several  others, took issue with the film Monday, saying it lacked context and  was  inaccurate, particularly in its discussion of the apartheid debate.

Shirley said to Fox News that Reagan’s views on South Africa must be judged in  the context of the Cold War.

“The sanctions would have hurt the least  affluent among the South Africans at the time, who were the blacks there,”  Shirley said. “The Zulu tribe, representing 6 million blacks, was vehemently  opposed to the sanctions. … When Mandela came to power, one of the first things  he asked for were the sanctions to be lifted. So it’s a very complex issue and  they present it [in the film] in a very simplistic fashion.”

Meese  agreed.

“Certainly as president, in terms of dealing with apartheid, he  was absolutely opposed to apartheid,” Meese told Newsmax. “He had some concern  about the sanctions that were in place because of what it would do generally in  terms of our position on the Cold War. But also he was concerned about the  impact economic sanctions would have on the people of South Africa, including  those people who happen to be people of color.”

“Lee Daniels’ The  Butler” is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House from  1952 to 1986, serving eight presidents before his retirement.

The  screenplay was written by Danny Strong, who wrote HBO’s 2008 TV film “Recount,”  as well as HBO’s “Game Change,” about the 2012 presidential campaign. That movie  was drubbed by many on the right as a hit piece against former Alaska Gov. Sarah  Palin.

Knowing the history of the film’s creators, “you have to go to  motive,” Shirley said.

“The screenwriter for this movie did write ‘Game  Change,’ which was grossly unfair to Sarah Palin. He also wrote ‘Recount,’ which  again a lot of people thought was a retelling of the history of the recount that  made the George Bush forces look very devious and the Gore forces look good,”  said Shirley. “You do have to go to motive with Hollywood and movies.”

Film critic Christian Toto, an assistant editor at Breitbart News, said Strong  is “a dedicated liberal fellow, and he puts his politics into his work.  Certainly this is not a surprise.”

The film’s cast would also not endear  it to the right, Toto added. “Lee Daniels stocked his film with some very  aggressively left figures, from Jane Fonda to John Cusack, which is like poking  a hornet’s nest.”

The movie also stars Forest Whitaker in the title role  of the butler and Oprah Winfrey in the memorable role of his boozy wife.

Prior to the Reagan flap, the movie earned the disdain of veterans with the  casting of Fonda as Nancy Reagan.

Fonda replied that she was playing the  first lady as a human being and said she knew Nancy Reagan was “not unhappy”  with her casting, even as some military veterans recalled her criticism of the  nation during the Vietnam War, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” Some  have planned protests against her and the film.

Toto said there is a  need to set the factual record straight because “movies shape popular culture  and popular culture shapes opinion.”

“The real-life butler had a picture  of Reagan in his living room, but the film portrays him as being disillusioned  with Reagan and quitting that job because of the disillusionment,” which is  totally at odds with the truth, Toto said.

That butler, Eugene Allen,  also was the first to be invited to attend a White House state dinner with his  wife, as a guest of Reagan, showing a relationship that seems at odds with the  one the film depicts.

Toto says it’s a lot more than a fictional  historical study, which is why friends of Reagan are rising up.

“It’s  not sort of a policy debate, but it’s capturing him in a way that makes him  appear if not racist, very insensitive to the suffering of people, and that is a  thing people have been hammering those on the right about now for years,” he  said.

“It’s a cudgel the left uses against the right. When you critique someone as  racist, it’s very powerful and it is effective, but it’s soul killing. I think  that’s a theme that really rankles people on the right and deservedly  so.”

The movie is unlikely to besmirch Reagan’s reputation; Meese noted  that Reagan is one of America’s most beloved figures.

“Ronald Reagan is  actually beloved by most people, whether conservative or not. In poll after poll  he has shown he is one of the most popular people in history across the  political spectrum,” Meese said.


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