Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bill Moyers speaks out in defense of himself and a free press

Bill Moyers, who has recently been targeted as an example of "liberal bias" at PBS recently gave a speech at the National Conference for Media Reform responding to increasing political pressure to make PBS and NPR more "balanced." Here I highlight some of the points made:

At the start of the speech Moyers explains why it is that he is under attack
One reason I’m in hot water is because my colleagues and I at “NOW” didn’t play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.
Moyers went on to point out the danger of propaganda
Hear me: 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. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.
He then pointed out the similarity between current efforts to "balance" PBS and Nixon era efforts to silence critical journalists
After all, I’d been there at the time of Richard Nixon’s attempted coup. In those days, public television had been really feisty and independent and often targeted for attacks...According to White House memos at the time, he was determined, (quote), “to get the left wing commentators who are cutting us up off public television at once; indeed, yesterday, if possible.” Sound familiar?

Nixon vetoed the authorization for CPB with a message written in part by his sidekick and soul mate, Pat Buchanan, who castigated Vanocur, McNeil, “Washington Week in Review,” “Black Journal” and Bill Moyers as, (quote), “unbalanced against the administration.” It is familiar.
Moyers then concludes by pointing out that PBS is heading in the direction in becoming an arm of government rather than a tool of the people.
I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman, Democrat or Republican, would cross the line from resisting White House pressure to carrying out for the White House. But that’s what Kenneth Tomlinson has been doing.
The full transcript which I linked to earlier is worth reading.

1 comment:

John Lombard said...

Yes, I listened to this earlier today. My favourite bit was when he compared those damn flag lapel pins to Mao's Red Book in Communist China. Cookie cutter patriotism!