By Roland Woerner, Hardball producer
It was a rare public Reagan family reunion of sorts on Thursday’s edition of Hardball. Nancy joined son Ron to help Chris report on the release of the new book “The Reagan Diaries.” (video) Joining them was presidential historian and Tulane University professor Douglas Brinkley who painstakingly edited the book over the last 3 years. Mrs. Reagan, who is doing very limited publicity for this book, agreed to join the conversation today when she heard Chris was dedicating time to it on Hardball. She told Chris how important it was to publish these diary entries and that the President never wrote them with the idea that they’d be published. She had forgotten how much he wrote about dealing with personal situations with his family in the diaries, including this excerpt about his son Ron:
Saturday, May 15 (1982)
Long call to Ron. He wants to Sign off Secret Svc. for a month. S.S. knows he’s a real target—lives in a N.Y.C. area where the Puerto Rican terrorist group is active. In fact he’s on a hit list. He thinks we’re interfering with his privacy. I can’t make him see that I can’t be put in a position of one day facing a ransom demand. I’d have to refuse for reasons for the Nation’s welfare.
Ron told Chris Matthews it is more than a little strange for him to read about family arguments 25 years after they happened. Mrs. Reagan was quick to point out that the president did write many good things about Ron in his diary, including how much he enjoyed watching him perform with the Joffrey Ballet in the 1980’s. Mrs. Reagan also responded to a question from Chris on how the President was embarrassed by some of the content in movies he screened at the White House. Here’s an entry from 1982.
Friday, August 13
We had a movie, “Officer and a Gentleman.” Good story, spoiled by nudity, language & sex.
Mrs. Reagan didn’t remember watching that movie specifically, but said the president didn’t like “crudeness of any kind”.
“The Reagan Diaries” is an important account of American and world history from 1981-1989 as seen through the eyes of an American president. Chris says it’s a must read for anyone interested in politics. Mrs. Reagan couldn’t agree more and she is thrilled that the world will get the chance to read the unfiltered personal thoughts of her husband, the 40th President of the United States.
That’s the great thing about working on this show. From First Ladies like Nancy Reagan, to policy makers, to world leaders, you just never know who wants to be part of the action on Hardball with Chris Matthews.