Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Moyers Fires Back

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Bill Moyers denounced on Sunday the right wing and top officials at the White House, saying they are trying to silence their critics by controlling the news media.

He also took aim at reporters who become little more than willing government “stenographers.” And he said the public increasingly is content with just enough news to confirm its own biases.

Moyers spoke in St. Louis at a conference on media reform. His reports have appeared on the Public Broadcasting System since the 1970s. He was an aide to President Lyndon Johnson and is a former newspaper publisher.

Moyers said those in power – government officials and their allies in the media – mean to stay there by punishing journalists “who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable.”

Moyers described those officials as “obsessed with control” of the media. He said they are using the government “to threaten and intimidate.”

Moyers answered for the first time recent charges that public television in general and he in particular have become too liberal.


“The more compelling our journalism, the angrier became the radical right of the Republican Party,” he said.

“That’s because the one thing they loath more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth.”


“In contrast to the conservative mantra that public television routinely features the voices of establishment critics,” he said, alternative voices on public television are rare and usually drowned out by government and corporate views.

Moyers said that’s exactly what the right wing wants.

“They want your reporting to validate their belief system, and when it doesn’t God forbid.”


“Without a trace of irony, the powers that be have appropriated the news speak vernacular of George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ giving us a program, no child will be left behind, while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged children.

“They give us legislation calling for clear skies and healthy forests” while “turning over public lands to the energy industry.”

He said the public shares the blame:

“An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda is less inclined to put up a fight – ask questions and be skeptical.”

Moyers compared Tomlinson and other conservatives to Richard Nixon, who he said was another president who tried to take control of public television.

“I always knew Nixon would be back,” Moyers said. “I just didn’t know that this time he would ask to be chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

Don’t mince words, Bill. Tell us what you really think.

Bryant at Make Me A Commentator!!! spent last weekend at the conference in St. Louis. He has a series of postings about it starting here. Check them out.