October 1, 2013
President Ronald Reagan talks with Democratic House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr. in the Oval Office of the White House in 1985. (Scott Stewart/AP)
President Ronald Reagan talks with Democratic House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr. in the Oval Office of the White House in 1985. (Scott Stewart/Associated Press)

A panel on MSNBC’s “Now with Alex Wagner” today discussed host Chris Matthews’s book, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.” In a wide-ranging self-promotional riff, Matthews talked about the patriotism, the good will and the flexibility of both parties back in the 1980s, though at least one journo has cautioned against romanticizing this epoch. Anyhow, Matthews’s point: Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan cooperated when necessary. Things used to be great.

Asked about today’s infighting on Capitol Hill, MSNBC Senior Political Analyst Mark Halperin went on something of an attack against right-wing media, with a small and unspecific elbow at left-wing media tucked in there:

Those are two incredible men, Chris well documents had an affinity and found common ground. The times were so different. You tell me, if we had Fox News, the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh in the 1980s*, and then all the things on the left, I think the pressures on them were a lot less great in the day to day of the news cycle. Six-thirty came around, they had to sit through a half-hour of news and they could go back to doing what they wanted. They were extraordinary guys and I’d like to think that if they were there now, they’d be doing things along the lines that they did.

How about putting some names to the villains on the left, Halperin?

*Slight fact-check: Limbaugh’s national syndication took place toward the tail end of the Reagan years, in August 1988.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.