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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Ramona Grigg

I remember that day vividly, not in front of the tv but in a press pen along Constitution Ave. where my ex managed to get us into by flashing his government id. It was a time before cell phones and rumors about the hostages made their way through the crowd.

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Thanks so much for sharing this. Did the people in the crowd think there was collusion between Reagan's people and the Iranians? Many of us in the Midwest sure did.

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Mar 19, 2023Liked by Ramona Grigg

The general feeling was that, although everyone was happy the hostages were freed, that the timing was extremely fishy.

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The timing was odd, I thought—coming just minutes after the swearing-in. What else were people to think, other than it was planned as a slap in the face to Jimmy Carter. It just seemed needlessly cruel, and not the image Reagan, the pretend ‘nice guy’, would have wanted.

Though for optics it was quite the coup.

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I was only in my mid-teens, still living in the UK, and remember thinking it very weird, which likely owes as much to skeptical BBC coverage as it does to precocious critical thinking skills. Fast forward to the mid -80s when, even though I had only seen Cronkite after he was resigned, I wore an "I miss Walter" button to the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Phoenix, where I was repping our campus chapter. He was very pleased, I got a hug, and I've been dining out on that story ever since. I knew a political journalist in the early 80s who was pushed out of his job, and a cartoonist who was fired, and it's hard not to think there are other stories waiting to be told from that time. Thanks for this, Ramona.

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A hug from Uncle Walter! That's special! Thanks for sharing this, Annette. So much going on back then, and so much of it is forgotten.

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Yeah, and a peck on the cheek. I took it as a sort of papal blessing. 😀. Stsrting now is when it's time for historians to do our thing: When records open, when participants are old enough to want to talk, when political forces no longer have the power or inclination to discourage or prevent inquiry. The only problem: Historians are being laid off and retiring, and I worry that people who step into our shoes to do history don't always have the same training in the discipline, and experience marinating in documents, the same commitment to archives above theory and ideology, and don't hold to the same rigorous standards of following the evidence, all of it, no matter what damage it does to our theses and dearly -held beliefs, and no matter how long it takes.

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It's chilling. You're right that the historians are aging and much of the nuance, besides the clear facts, will be lost. We need to know WHY things happened--what were the catalysts?--and we need to know the context. Much of that is lost already. People don't check archives, don't read old articles or books anymore.

I look at Doris Kearnes Goodwin, for example, and I'm grateful she's still here, but her time is coming. Michael Beschloss is a bit younger, and does a good job, but those from the Kennedy or even Reagan eras are no longer visible or being heard.

I love what you, do, Annette. You're a historical storyteller, using wit and normal parlance to tell us of the past, yet I know I can trust your sources and your analysis.

Please don't stop!

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Thanks for the kind words, Ramona! I'm also a trained and published historian, although I quit being a professor to become a public historian (missionary for history, in my case) Ooh, so many convos to be had, and so not suited to comments. Shock news: Neither Goodwin nor Beschloss are trained historians, but journalists to whom the media and public turn for opinionating, and that their discussions take place outside of the enormously complex and nuanced conversation that happens in academia. :) See, this is why historians don't get invited to parties. :)

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I didn't know that! Sounds like they are to historians what Carl Sagan was to scientists. They all have their place, I guess. How about accuracy? What's the skinny on those two? Anything I need to know?

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Google Kearns Goodwin and plagiarism. More importantly, they aren't so much popularizing academic work as they're just doing their own thing: That's true of the great majority of people who write about the past for the public. Also, there's a terrific piece about the frustration of historians about this sort of thing. If I ever find it, I'll send it to you.

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Wow, what a bummer. I was in college at the time and not watching much TV, but I remember this. Of course we all knew it was a set-up job, as you say, and Reagan did so much damage. Miss Walter Cronkite and the days when everyone got their news from him! Thanks for covering this. You did what you could.

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Thanks for sharing this piece, Ramona.

I was born in 1980, so one thing I wonder about is how people viewed Reagan then vis-a-vis Trump in 2016. Was the sense of unease the same? Worse for one vs. the other? How did the world feel in 1980 vs. 2016? Safer? More dangerous? More uncertain?

I'd be fascinated by any thoughts you'd be willing to share.

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I was born in '90 so I too have wondered this!

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Reagan and Trump were both celebrities, to be sure, but Reagan had already been governor of California, so he wasn't brand new to politics.

I can only speak as a liberal who was always suspicious of Reagan right from the start, but the advantage he had was his reputation as an actor/hero, his good looks, his Midwestern speech patterns, and his sunny disposition. Compared to him Carter came off as a yokel, a bumbler, a weak opponent who had already made enemies by telling us Americans the truth--that the economy wasn't looking good and we might have to tighten our belts.

Much of Reagan's persona was play-acting, and almost all of anything Reagan said was prepared for him by speechwriters who took advantage of all of that and built him into an everyman, a good guy who would never hurt anybody, and the press ate it up.

It paid their bills, after all, keeping the spotlight on Reagan and they weren't going to report anything that might make him (and them) look bad. As California governor, he showed his true colors, ending free college for everyone and cutting social programs, for example, but that was all forgotten when he came on the Washington scene and dazzled everyone.

Reagan did it by pretending to be good, while Trump saw his Ace in the Hole was playing it bad. It worked for both of them. Unfortunately.

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Thank you for shedding light on that, Ramona. Though I'm making what I call my "yuck" face (at the ending of free college & cutting social programs details, among others), I appreciate it.

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You're welcome. And thanks for wanting the truth. It's out there shadowed by what they want you to believe is conventional wisdom about 'The Great Communicator".

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Also, your newsletter sounds really interesting, Amran -- just subscribed and eager to dive in :)

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Awesome -- welcome aboard! My writing can get a little intense, but based on your profile I think you'll dig it.

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Ramona Grigg

I like your style in the article, with the focus on Cronkite, upon whom we always depended. I too couldn't believe the hostage negotiations at the end happened "so quickly" - and reading just lately about the treason committed to keep the hostages in place....well, there are no words to describe the inhumanity - and we are now seeing just how inhumane the Republican Party was/is/will continue to be. I didn't realize Cronkite was forced out. May need two read about that. DO you have a good source?

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Thanks for your thoughts, Linda. I linked to it in the article but I've added the link here. Cronkite had to retire at age 65. CBS rules at the time.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/walter-cronkite-retires-from-cbs-evening-news

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