Bill Moyers Explains It All

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

More like this please.

Unfortunately, Bill Moyer’s speech on the failure of journalism and the independence of public television is far too long to reproduce here, even for an extended post.  I therefore encourage everyone to read it all.

Choice excerpts are below the fold.

On “radical right-wingers”:

Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

On what passes for “journalistic objectivity” nowadays:

Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading. . . . I decided long ago that this wasn’t healthy for democracy. . . . I realized that investigative journalism could not be a collaboration between the journalist and the subject. Objectivity is not satisfied by two opposing people offering competing opinions, leaving the viewer to split the difference.

On getting a news story nailed down as right:

This is always hard to do, but it has never been harder than today. Without a trace of irony, the powers-that-be have appropriated the newspeak vernacular of George Orwell’s 1984. They give us a program vowing “No Child Left Behind,” while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged kids. They give us legislation cheerily calling for “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests” that give us neither. And that’s just for starters.

On right-wing idealogues:

This is the point of my story: Ideologues don’t want you to go beyond the typical labels of left and right. They embrace a world view that can’t be proven wrong because they will admit no evidence to the contrary. They want your reporting to validate their belief system and when it doesn’t, God forbid.

Moyers also talks about the forces—past and present—who seek to rein in the independence of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because they don’t like the fact that, on occasion, the CPB reports the truth about power to the American people.  ("Power", by the way, is not limited to right-wing power, in Moyer’s view).  He then closes with faith in the American people, something which the interferors lack:

We’re big kids; we can handle controversy and diversity, whether it’s political or religious points of view or two loving lesbian moms and their kids, visited by a cartoon rabbit. We are not too fragile or insecure to see America and the world entire for all their magnificent and sometimes violent confusion. “There used to be a thing or a commodity we put great store by,” John Steinbeck wrote. “It was called the people.”