Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Nation: Our Debt to Bill Moyers

Our Debt to Bill Moyers
Nation editorial

A few days after the commercial television networks' laudatory "news" reports on George W. Bush's nomination of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State, PBS's Bill Moyers countered with something rarely seen on broadcast television these days: serious journalism. Moyers devoted a substantial portion of NOW, the public broadcasting program he has hosted for the past three years, to an analysis of Rice's failure to take seriously warnings about terrorist threats before the September 11 attacks as well as her misguided response to those attacks, her role in the campaign for war on Iraq and her scheming to avoid cooperating with the 9/11 Commission. The devastating report brought to mind Edward R. Murrow's See It Now dissection of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Unfortunately, PBS in 2004 can't influence public opinion the way CBS did in 1954. Moyers recognized that fact when he launched NOW in January 2002; the former spokesman for Lyndon Johnson, senior correspondent for CBS, groundbreaking public television producer and winner of ten Peabody Awards and more than thirty Emmy Awards understood that the best he could do in these difficult times was to barter a bit of his prestige for the chance to erect an outpost of quality reporting in the increasingly corporatized broadcast television wilderness. Week after week, NOW has offered consistently bold and revealing examinations of issues ranging from the threat to environmental protections posed by international trade agreements, to the damage done to basic liberties by the Patriot Act, to the abuses of politics by special interests. Moyers, who is 70 and wants to turn his attention to writing, has every reason to be proud as he prepares for his last broadcast on December 17. At a time when TV networks--including PBS--were bowing to commercial and ideological pressures that were antithetical to journalism, Moyers created a program that many viewers recognized as the only reason to turn on the TV in the Bush era.

NOW will carry on with the able crew that Moyers assembled. And whether or not the program thrives without Moyers, the legacy he created will remain. James Madison said, "A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both" and warned that "a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives." In a time of farce and tragedy, Bill Moyers did his best to arm the people with the power knowledge gives and to affirm that there's still a place for TV journalism that nurtures citizenship and democracy.

Link to Editorial

A Series of Reports/Essays/Speeches/Profiles by/about Bill Moyers:

Now, with Bill Moyers

The Dark Side of the Chemical Industry

Bill Moyers Will Not Go Gently Into the Night

9/11 for the Record

On the 9/11 Commission

Bill Moyers: A Journalist and His Times

Outsourcing and Patriotism

The Media, Politics and Censorship

Patriotism and the Flag

Keynote Address to the Conference on Media Reform

This is Your Story - The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On.

Fooling With Words

Genesis: A Living Conversation

Trade Secrets

Bill Moyers Responding to an Attack by O'Reilly

Working for Change columns

Enron's Ken Lay, son a Baptist preacher, really knew how to pass the plate

Our Democracy is in Danger of Being Paralyzed

Republican Conservative Base Questions Bush

Yearning for Democracy

Earth on Edge

The Road to Clean Elections

Free Speech for Sale

Democracy in the Balance

Trading Democracy

The Secret Government

On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying

Interview with Howard Zinn

Review by Christian Century

On Bush Brand Environmentalism


Susannity said...

nooooooooo! he can't leave!

Michael said...


I posted this with you in mind having read your post about Bill ... NOW will be missed. I don't think that he is going to retire though (see the link "will not go gently into the night") and we can expect more work/writings/interviews from him.

A good role model, honest, thoughtful, and his style of communication is not hysterical or abusive... I read a lot of critiques of him while researching this information and it only made me admire him more (what is it they say "you can judge a person by their enemies?")