There was something similar after the JFK assassination, but of course the assassination of a living president is quite different. I don’t recall anything else remotely similar, perhaps since FDR, in the midst of a war, and of course he really was a significant figure, whatever one’s judgment of him. Reagan is another story: mostly a PR creation in the first place, and massively so in recent years.
During his years in office, Reagan was not particularly popular. Gallup just published poll figures comparing him during office with other presidents. His average ratings during his years in office were below Kennedy, Johnson, Bush I, and Clinton; above Nixon, Ford, Carter. This is averages during their terms in office. By 1992 he was ranked just next to Nixon as the most unpopular living ex-president. Since then there has been an immense PR campaign to convert him into a revered and historic figure, if not semi-divine, and it’s doubtless had an effect, radically shifting the rankings. Not on the basis of facts: rather, extremely effective marketing. The current performance is reminiscent of the death of Hirohito and Soviet leaders. One of the more depraved moments of US media. The lying is quite impressive, even by people who surely know better.
NOAM CHOMSKY’s latest book is Hegemony or Survival.