"My days and nights with the Reagans"

Larry Barrett with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Photo: Michael Evans, courtesy of Larry Barrett.

May 1, 2019

vol. 1 issue 5


This issue introduces the monthly podcast, Washington Remembers. In this episode, former Time magazine White House correspondent, Larry Barrett, remembers what it was like to have access to the “other” populist Republican president.

Barrett compares current White House press policies to those of the current and previous administrations, including President Jimmy Carter’s, which Barrett claims was not much good at managing the media, while Reagan’s team was.

Barrett also offers insights into how the religious Right got its foothold in Washington, not under the Southern Baptist Carter, but the socially moderate Reagan, who had been pro-choice before winning the White House. Barrett describes how Reagan advisors crafted a plan to pair the religious Right with the gun lobby in a move that helped transform the Republican party into what it is today.

Barrett also compares Reagan, whom he says at times chose to ignore his advisors and act on his gut, to our current president who also claims to act “gusty”, going without the input of aids and cabinet members.

At the time of this recording, Susan Page’s new biography of the late former First Lady Barbara Bush, The Matriarch, was just being released. In it, Page touches upon the rumors surrounding the prickly relationship between Bush and Nancy Reagan. Barrett fills in some gaps, including the assertion that First Lady Bush thought the Reagans were beneath her and her husband’s social standing and maybe even not quite as intelligent.

For nearly 40 years, most of it with TIME magazine, Barrett covered national politics. He wrote about seven presidents, beginning with Lyndon Johson and ending with BIll Clinton. Having begun his career with the New York Herald Tribune, Barrett was best known for his role as TIME's senior White House correspondent during the Reagan administration. 

Recorded in Barrett’s home in Chevy Chase, Md., it’s a fun discussion, loaded with anecdotes about the Reagans and other Washington luminaries of the 1970s and 80s. We begin with Barrett telling us how this photo came to be in service to his book about Reagan, Gambling with History: Reagan in the White House.

As docu-mental is intended to do, the interview also sheds light on policies and protocols of the past that we contend with today.

Future podcasts will explore how we came to have the mergers and acquisitions guidelines we have today, how immigration went from being a civil to a criminal matter, and several other policy beginnings that are ripe for debate.

Thanks for reading and listening. We’re adding on as we go, with our big launch coming this Fall. We hope you will subscribe and tell your friends to as well.

More about our mission and how docu-mental was founded to create herd immunity to anxiety and depression (TM) by examining policy and protocols in this country can be found here.

I hope you enjoy this podcast, hosted and produced by me, Whitney M. Fishburn.


Former Time magazine senior White House and national political correspondent, Larry Barrett, at home in Chevy Chase, Md. photo: Whitney Fishburn