Bill Moyers is retiring Friday from his subsidized perch at PBS, most recently on the weekly liberal hour known as Now. To mark the occasion, Moyers told the AP that he will end by uncovering the major story of our time, the media's conservative bias: "We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line." Ridiculous. For decades at PBS (interrupted by stints at CBS and NBC), Moyers made conservatives pay for his sermons:
■ Reagan vs. the Poor. "The documentary has held up as both true and sadly prophetic. While Congress restored some of the cuts made in those first Reagan budgets, in the years since, the poor and the working poor have born the brunt of the cost of the Reagan Revolution. The hardest-hit programs have been welfare, housing and other anti- poverty measures. Even programs that were not cut have failed to keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, rich people got big tax breaks and the middle class kept most of their subsidies intact. As a result, the Reagan years brought on a wider gap between rich and poor." - Bill Moyers after a PBS re-airing of the trumped-up 1982 CBS Reports special "People Like Us," June 20, 1989.
■ The Music of Mario. "It's worth dying prematurely so you can hear somebody else do your eulogy if that somebody is Mario Cuomo....[He] went on to indict supply-side economics as if it were the egregious offender, and it certainly deserves that." - Moyers on CNN, July 14, 1992.
■ Talk Radio Kills. "Talk radio in that part of the world is more anti-government today than ever. The airwaves are saturated with hostility. It's just an unremitting vilification of government. Sometimes it's, you know, the government makes mistakes and there are justifiable grievances against government. But this goes beyond that, it's excessive, and these people take it like salt in the wound. They drive around, they turn on their radio, they hear some vicious attack on government, and they think, 'You know, if you strike the government, you kill my daughter.'" - Moyers touting a Dateline on the victims (and victim families) of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 12, 1996 Today.
■ Right-Wing Rapture. "The entire federal government - the Congress, the executive, the courts - is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine...And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture." - Moyers ending his PBS show Now with a commentary on November 8, 2002, the Friday after Republicans regained Senate control.
In the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Congress said PBS should have balance in all "programming of a controversial nature." On any political topic, Moyers was almost always the opposite of fair and balanced. But PBS President Pat Mitchell created Now just so that Moyers could fulminate against conservatives on a weekly basis.
- Tim Graham