The demonization of Bill Moyers is not limited to conservative
venues. It also finds a warm, comfy outlet on supposedly liberal PBS. George Neumayr, executive
editor of the hardline right-wing American Spectator Magazine, was given ample time last night
to spew his venom on PBS’s
NewsHour in a softball interview with Jeffrey Brown. But that’s the least of it.
Kenneth Tomlinson, head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is on a mission to
destroy PBS by targeting Moyers and “Now,” his former program, with outright lies. “Evidence
[has] surfaced” indicating he dissembled at best when
he claimed that former CPB President Kathleen Cox “approved and signed” a contract to hire
someone “to monitor the political leanings” of the the guests who appeared on “Now.” This
morning’s New York Times reports that “a copy of the contract … shows that Mr. Tomlinson
signed it on Feb. 3, 2004, five months before Ms. Cox became president.”
Confronted with “the apparent discrepancy” between the contract and what he claimed in a
letter to Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Tomlinson had no comment. “If he signed the contract, he was
not telling the truth, which would be very troubling,” Dorgan told the Times. “He’s trying to pawn
some responsibility for this on others, which is very troubling. This guy has some real credibility
problems.” Lies are the default setting for the Bush White House and its minions. (It’s not Moyers
being demonized in the campaign against him and PBS, Neumayr told Brown on the NewsHour,
it’s Tomlinson who is the target of “a ridiculous smear … for simply doing his job.”)
I’ve written before about Moyers, more than half a dozen times. A year ago, I said his speech
on truth and journalism at the first National Conference on Media Reform in May 2004 is “what gets me up in the
morning.” He said then that “our democracy is in danger of being paralyzed.”
His speech to the second conference last month was another eye-opener. Since then the danger has increased.
You can see why on
this morning’s Democracy Now! “I don’t want to make any easy
comparisons, but I do sense that there is a desire to silence any dissent in this country by the
administration,” Moyers said.
They practice extraordinary media manipulation. They’re the most secretive
administration in my 70 years. And this whole attack on me is indicative of how when anyone
rises up to speak an alternative truth, an alternative vision of reality, they try to discredit them. …
I’m targeted because my reporting on “Now” was telling the stories that they didn’t want told
about secrecy in government, about Cheney’s energy task forces, about a cover up at the
Department of Interior, about the relationship between business, corporations, and the
administration. We were reporting what good muckraking journalism always reports, and they
don’t like that. So that’s why they’ve singled me out.
Public broadcasting has “to get back to the revolutionary spirit of dissent and courage” that
inspired it “in the first place,” Moyer noted, “and this country does, too.” So inform yourself and do something. In a mammoth essay
published Monday in The Washington Post, a version of which is online
here, Moyers also laid out the assumptions on which PBS was founded. Read
them. And if you’re at all interested in previous Straight Up posts about “Exhibit A” of PBS’s
so-called liberal agenda (Neumayr’s term for him), here are some of them: Moyers Moves On, Hanging in With George, Fine Tuning and Departing Words.