What’s the big deal when the news media covers assertions as facts without delving into the assertions’ accuracy? I hope the answer is patently obvious in the wake of the Bush Administration’s “Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks” and “Iran has WMD” assertions?
But this phenomenon is on my mind once again today, for it is the much-ballyhooed twentieth anniversary of former President Reagan’s theatrical challenge in Berlin that Russia “tear down this wall.” Over and over, we are hearing that this macho made-for-TV double dare ya and the accompanying military shopping spree was what led to “Reagan winning the Cold War.”
Unless you are one of 17 eggheads in the nation who regularly watch C-Span and public television, you will hear little or no discussion about whether the “Reagan won the Cold War” assertion is true. For instance, you won’t hear that seven Presidents fought the Cold War before President Reagan, with nukes and a containment policy of their own.
You will only hear that the Gipper won.
This debate should matter to more than just historians, because today’s leaders continue to employ “Reagan won the Cold War” claims to market everything from massive military spending to reckless pro wrestler-style diplomacy.
Did Reagan win the Cold War? I’m not equipped to answer the question. But a quick Google tells me it’s, at the very least, a seriously debated topic. But it’s a debate mainstream news media consumers all too rarely hear.