Bill Moyers’ greatest misses

Bill Moyers has retired from television (for the third time). His last show aired yesterday, though it will be repeated.

Frankly, I didn’t know Moyers was still on television. As the Washington Post reports, “Moyers’ visibility has fallen in recent years, in part because Moyers & Company airs at different times on public station, sometimes in the wee hours, which complicates national promotion.”

There aren’t hours “wee” enough to which to banish a hack leftist who spews such ahistorical nonsense as “I’ve lived long enough to see the triumph of zealots and absolutists, to watch money swallow politics, to witness the rise of the corporate state.”

According to the Post, Moyers decided against finishing his run with a “career retrospective.” But the rest of us aren’t bound by this decision.

Therefore, I thought it would be fitting for Power Line to do a Moyers retrospective, using some of our posts from the previous decade. In those days, Moyers still seemed relevant, enough so that John called him “the most contemptible man in public life.”

John did so in a response to Moyers’ unsupported attack on Karl Rove as an “agnostic” who has cynically manipulated the Christian right for political gain. But Moyes earned the label for his body of unjust, hateful work.

In this post, John exposed another Moyers smear, this one against James Watt who served as Secretary of Interior under President Reagan. This smear too was couched in religious terms. Moyers accused Watt of believing that “protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.” John showed this claim to be an outrageous libel.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune felt compelled to run a correction for the column in which Moyers smeared Watt. Moyers took the weasel’s way out, claiming, in effect, that the “quote” by Watts that he relied on was fake but accurate, and that in any event, Watt is a lousy Christian.

I took my shot at Moyers in this post about a show he did with David Brock, a current candidate for the most contemptible man in public life award. The two were outraged that publicly licensed media outlets were providing conservatives with a “megaphone.” Moyers seemed oblivious to the fact that the megaphone through which he viciously attacks conservatives is publicly funded.

The context of Moyers’ outrage was coverage of the Swiftvets allegations against John Kerry. But neither Moyers nor Brock identified a single Swiftvet allegation shown to be false, nor did they demonstrate that, on the whole, the allegations were false, misleading, or otherwise not worthy of being reported.

For Moyers, the real outrage was that the left’s monopoly on television news coverage had been broken. This, presumably, is what he has in mind when he complains about the rise of “corporate media.” The Post notes the irony of such a complaint from a man who has “receiv[ed] paychecks from two large for-profit media organizations for more than a decade.”

Indeed, the Post’s Paul Farhi ends his article by raising the issue of Moyers’ self-dealing and conflicts of interest.

Moyers’s dual roles — as both TV host and philanthropist — have sometimes overlapped and even presented possible conflicts of interest.

For example, Schumann Center for Media and Democracy [of which Moyers is president and whose assets exceed $28 million] helped finance TomPaine.com, which was founded by Moyers’s son John, who was also a former member of Schumann’s board.

Further, in 2011, Schumann gave $859,146 to the Independent Production Fund, according to the foundation’s tax filing. The IPF has produced a number of Moyers’s public television programs over the years.

What’s more, Moyers occasionally featured on his program some of the very organizations Schumann financed without disclosing the connection. In 2012, for example, “Moyers & Co.” devoted an entire episode to an interview with Heather McGhee, the Washington policy director of Demos, a campaign-finance and advocacy organization. Schumann gave $375,000 to Demos in 2012 and 2011, the last years public records are available.

Asked repeatedly about this, Moyers offered no response.

“No comment” is a fitting sign-off for this sanctimonious, venom-spewing, self-styled “crusader.”

Responses