Gotta Watch: Behind the scenes of the Reagan shooting
Ronald Reagan exits the Washington Hilton hotel moments before a gunman opens fire in 1981.
March 18th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Behind the scenes of the Reagan shooting

Breaking news, 1981-style – It's hard to believe it's been 30 years this month since the failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. CNN - less than a year on the air as the world's first 24-hour news network - sprang into breaking news mode to report initial details of the attack.

CNN investigation – This Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT, CNN presents an investigation into what really happened behind the scenes on that tense day in 1981. In this excerpt, doctors describe how they worked to save Reagan's life in the ER.

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Politics
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  1. American Idiot

    Someone shot Reagan? OMG? Also, nice 'fro, Bernie.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • In the Know

      Reagan was a good man at heart personally and once said " anyone who gives up their personal freedoms and rights of citizenship for the threat of terror is playing into terrors hands". Funny how we gave up our rights so easily for the GOP to gain control with the use of "fear" when even their idol disapproved. This is relevant why, because Reagan was easily used and manipulated due to his disease by his yes men to create the society of have and have nots, making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

      Unfortunately, the GOP needed a public overhaul at the time and used the worlds #1 spokesperson to gain public votes in order to set the ground work for the fleecing of americans by big business. He was a great figure head and sold us on the american dream. His character and persona were victimized by Bush SR (vice Pres), Don Regan (head of Merrill Lynch), Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, etc due to his Alzheimer's. This is one reason Nancy was such a bulldog protector and hated the Bushes and the rest of them. I'm a firm believer that if Reagan new what he was doing he wouldnt have done it. Either way they (GOP) wins, the public blaming Reagan for today or idolizing him twisting his words to give merit to what they are trying to do now. Look what they are trying to do in Wisconsin and 13 other states.....no middle class is what the end game is. What happens to us when we become India, a 2 class system. Think it cant happen, its is right now.

      March 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marc

    now dont get me wrong im no ghadafi lover,but realy i think the world has many problems bigger than this man again our merican tax dollars being spent ,on the war machine ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when wil it ever end im tired of all the killing and wars the west cannot police the world and nor should it ,,,,,,,,our military is spread thin get our troops home not another should die for nonthing ness oh im sorry it is for something the greedy poloticians rep and dem all lining there pockets

    March 18, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      You're absolutely right. We obviously need to be spending more on education, and grammar/spelling lessons in particular.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      tired of all the killing?
      yeah we should just save our money and let them kill each other.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      MARK....you hit the buzzer in time and you got the number one answer! "More money needs to be spent on education".....but unfortunately the powers that be know that it's far easier to keep uneducated people in line, thus their math calls for "less education"....now the real question is, how do you get rid of the powers that be? And by the way, how in the world did they get in power? (I'm not talking about Obama or 2011, I'm talking about the last 50 years)

      March 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Unfortunately John, there is only way put this country on the right track. Revolution. Financial collapse is coming, and so is the revolution. I just hope we do the right thing when we rebuild.

      March 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      We spend MORE than enough on education. It is HOW the money is SPENT. The Fed (and state) gives money to school districts. Those districts are responsible for spending it – and they DO spend it...on marble bathrooms, on "Educational" trips to Jamaica and Vegas for administrators, and many other "necessities". ADD to that the amounts paid to teachers' UNIONS
      and there you have it. You could DOUBLE what is being spent on the children and it would not translate into better grades.

      March 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gramatica

      Not to mention punctuations also.

      March 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      How about lessons in how to recognize sarcasm? At least one person doesn't need that class, but the rest of you do.

      March 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Trick

    Funny, nobody seemed to know who was in charge in the White House for the remaining seven and a half years of Reagan's presidency.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • dina

      Funny? Where were you ? Because to the rest of us ..... we knew !!! you must have been in a coma or behind bars.... No cuz even they knew !!! Perhaps a history book is in order for you.... send me your address and il mail one to you ! Thank you lol !!

      March 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Going John Galt

      I am going to go with Reagan was in charge. Of course, I did attend school before all the historical revisions were made.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troop

      You "BIG DUMMY"

      March 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Bauer

      Show some respect, you broke-ass liberal crybaby.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • LouieD

      You're all wrong! After Reagan was shot, and for the remainder of his tenure, his wife's astrologist was in charge!

      March 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinking Man

      Totally agree.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      Good call...but he did make a damn fine prop for those seven years. Unfortunately, he would also make a great Democrat President in these times. As much as I like Obama, his policies in action are pretty damn close to those of the Republicans in the 70's and 80's.

      March 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      LoiueD, BINGO!

      March 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      lol...most of you guys denigrating Regan have NO idea what this country was like in the Carter years...and your ignorance shows. Mortgage rates at 16%..inflation at 23 %. Morale at an all-time low. Our hostages were released the very moment Regan took the helm....and, yes, Regan spent big bux on defense – which led DIRECTLY to the fall of the USSR. Within one year of his taking the helm, inflation was halved. The world respected us MUCH more. He tried his best (understand he had a democratic party majority in both houses = TAX, TAX, TAX) to lower the national debt by cutting spending, instead of increasing taxes. SURE taxes ended up being increased because he had to give up a LOT to the DEMS in order to get anything done. But, of course, most of you dont (wont) see that – just like you dont (wont) see that for all the DEM'S moaning about Bush's policies, 90% of those policies remain intact.
      Your G-D Obama couldnt even pass legislation when he had a super-majority in Congress, and you denigrate Regan for his actions when faced with a majority hostile congress....get educated, will you ?

      March 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • jergn

      Reagan was good for the country but I still thought the comment was funny.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam the Sham

      Reagan was a strong fearless leader who was remarkably successful as president. He established the position as a world leader that only Clinton has come close to displaying. We can only hope someone with their statesmanship and authority comes on the scene in the next year to fill the void.

      March 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gail

    WHY!!!!!! is this important??? Why do you want to take us back there?????Duh!!

    March 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Bauer

      Gail, to paraphrase The Great One (Mark Levin): Thank you not for your comment.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      Are you kidding? No matter your political affiliation, the attempted assasination of a President is a momentous historic event. I wish these news sites would remove comments. There's more stupidity than anything else.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeDee

      Gail, you are right. Why is this important now? This topic had plenty of coverage before. We should never forget our history or the lessons to be learned from it, but come on. Must have been a slow news day, NOT.

      March 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uh huh

      Because it's 12 days 'til the 30th anniversary.

      March 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      @Gail, for no other reason than the fact that it's history. There was an attempt on a U.S. Presidents life. To ask this would be like asking why we revisit the JFK assassination even to this day.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bruce

    Why Gail? Because it's a part of history you moron. Nuff said.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • anon

      Wow Bruce, you sure learned her!

      March 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Harry

    I totally agree with Roland. I had someone in my office say something similar to what this elderly man said. Worst of all it was a former Army Sgt. who is in the inactive reserve. I stood up and said to that person. "You are talking about our commander and chief and the person at the center of our presidency."

    People don't realize when you say something like that you aren't attacking just the president (the person) you are attacking the office of the President. That is one of the strongest symbols of our country, which includes people that are both republicans and democrats. The office of president represents all of this countries interests the ones you like and the ones you don't like. Don't forget one of the most powerful positions in the presidency is the Secretary of Defense and that is manned by a man that is a republican chosen by Bush 43. The lesson here is think before speak.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mel Q

      It would be nice if people would remember this when they speak of our current President, who in my opinion has been treated with the most disrespect i have ever seen, I did not like Bush but i would never speak of him like he was a less than a person, the way i have read in comments on many sites, including, cnn.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • LouieD

      The flip side of disrespecting a president is OVERrespecting a president: giving him too much credit for events during his tenure, ignoring his failures, and exaggerating his accomplishments. This is exactly what Republicans do to their beloved Saint Reagan, whose policies of deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy have arguably "trickled down" to become today's economic woes.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      I wouldnt say they represent all our best interests... just what they think are our best interests are

      March 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh P

      Disagreeing with the president is not disrespecting the entire office.

      March 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEff B

      LOL, Mel – you think Obama is treated worse than Bush was ?
      If OB cant take it, he shouldnt have dished it out.

      March 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gilly

    bruce you are so cool

    March 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kenny

    I did not like or vote for the man, however, he was the POTUS and as such, he was my President. I respect the office of the President and have no desire to see our leader struck down. I would fight hard to elect someone else in the next election but to kill a leader because you do not like him or agree with his politics is wrong.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. C Bauer

    Because of The Gipper's economic policies, my dad (who grew up in abject poverty) was able to semi-retire when he was just 39, as we enjoyed a very comfortable and financially secure family environment. Meanwhile, losers like you complain and continue to complain because you're bitter that "the rich suck" because you still have gotten nowhere in your life. You're a 1975 Pacer on a highway full of Ferrari F430 Scuderias. Pull over and shut up.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pam

    I remember this event clearly considering I was 7 years old when it happened. I remember the news breaks on our big console TV in the living room. Quite an event.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pragmatist

    Thank Gawd he was spared as well as the War on the Middle Class!

    March 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jodie Foster

    You are really starting to annoy me.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bluecrabz

    Maybe if the D.C. cops were actually watching the crowd it would have been averted?

    March 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. American Idiot

    You are so clever, Vicki. I'll bet you are the center of attention at the Wal-Mart, every time you go through check-out.

    March 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Al Haig

    Am I still in charge here?

    March 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
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