I should have said, “Back in ’05, if not sooner.” Sooner because I wanted to link to the video of
all 50-plus minutes of Bill Moyers’s keynote speech to the National Conference on Media Reform.
It was posted on the Web this morning
by Democracy Now!, the best daily TV-radio-Internet news broadcast we’ve got.
A video of roughly half the speech, which Moyers gave a year ago (Nov. 18, 2003), was posted last
spring by Democracy Now!, but it’s worth hearing every last
word of what he had to say. You can also read the transcript. (It includes policy recommendations he
decided to skip in his speech.) If you prefer a summary, here’s mine.
Moyers’s eloquence was tasty stuff:
In earlier times our governing bodies tried to squelch journalistic freedom
with the blunt instruments of the law: padlocks for the presses and jail cells for outspoken editors
and writers. Over time, with spectacular wartime exceptions, the courts and the Constitution
struck those weapons out of their hands. But they’ve found new ones now, in the name of
“national security.” …
Never has there been an administration so disciplined in secrecy, so precisely in lockstep in
keeping information from the people at large and — in defiance of the Constitution — from their
representatives in Congress. Never has so powerful a media oligopoly — the word is Barry
Diller’s, not mine — been so unabashed in reaching like Caesar for still more wealth and power.
Never have hand and glove fitted together so comfortably to manipulate free political debate, sow
contempt for the idea of government itself, and trivialize the people’s need to
One other thing. When Moyers retired from broadcast journalism, appearing eight days ago
for the last time on his weekly PBS program “Now,” he said it would continue with David
Brancaccio as host. And it will. But “without Moyers’s influence at PBS,” I was concerned that “you have
to wonder how long the show will last.” Well, the signs are already lousy. “Now” will be cut
down from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, Amy Goodman reports.