Vast right-wing conspiracy? What vast right-wing conspiracy?
Michael Reagan, one of the president's sons and now a conservative radio talk show host, appeared on the Fox News Channel program "Hannity & Colmes" and said [of CBS's TV movie on the Reagans], "This is all about the agenda of dismantling my father, dismantling the conservative movement and tearing down Ronald Reagan as we go into an election year."
Matt Drudge, whose Drudge Report is one of the more popular Web sites, soon obtained a copy of the script and regularly parsed out excerpts, which set the conservative talk radio, cable and other Internet sites back into motion.
On Oct. 28, the Media Research Center, a conservative group led by L. Brent Bozell that monitors the news and entertainment industries for what it sees as liberal bias, wrote a letter to a list of 100 top television sponsors urging them to "refuse to associate your products with this movie."
At around the same time Michael Paranzino, a former Republican Congressional staff member from Betheseda Md., decided to start a Web site called BoycottCBS.com. He said he spent a mere $8.95 to establish the site, which called for a viewer boycott of CBS and all the sponsors of the mini-series.
Mr. Paranzino became a sort of grassroots spokesman against the television movie, appearing on conservative cable news programs including Bill O'Reilly's on Fox News and Joe Scarborough's on MSNBC. "We used technology that was not available 10 years ago to do in nine days what used to take months," Mr. Paranzino said. "We created a genuine, national, grass-roots movement that forced a broadcasting titan to cancel one of its key sweeps weeks series."
Last Friday, the Republican National Committee entered the fray. Ed Gillespie, the chairman, held a teleconference with journalists calling for CBS to appoint a team of historians and associates of Mr. Reagan to review the film for accuracy. In the absence of such a committee, he said, the network should run a scroll on the bottom of the screen during the mini-series reminding viewers that "The Reagans" is a fictional account.
The Republican National Committee then started a petition drive on its Web site supporting Mr. Gillespie's request.
--New York Times