Hard-Left PBS Vet Bill Moyers Returns, to Fulsome Praise from the Times

Reporter Elizabeth Jensen's fulsome tribute to lefty public TV sage Bill Moyers: "...much will carry over from the old program, including Mr. Moyers's thoughtful interviews with thinkers who wouldn't otherwise get much television face time and a focus on the country's most pressing political and economic questions....a longtime target of some conservatives."

Reporter Elizabeth Jensen paid tribute to hard-left public television host for life Bill Moyers in the Sunday Arts & Leisure, under the fulsome headline 'He's Back, Just as Curious as Ever.'

The MRC's Brent Bozell paraded a list of Moyers' many hypocrisies and hard-left statements in a 2004 column:

It was Moyers who charged that Bush and Cheney and Co. were "feeding on the corpse of war." It was Moyers who compared people who wear flag pins to those who adored the Little Red Book of the communist mass-murderer Mao Zedong. It was Moyers who suggested the Republicans retaking the Senate in 2002 would unite Washington behind "eviscerating" the environment and transferring all the wealth from the "working people" to the rich, who apparently as a class have never held a job of any kind....Who can forget Moyers denouncing the cozy relationships between conservative foundations and conservative policy experts appearing on television as Moyers headed the Schumann Foundation and not only funded all his favorite left-wing wonks....?

None of that made it into Jensen's piece on Moyers and his seemingly inevitable return to public television.

That didn't last long. Just 20 months after retiring his PBS series 'Bill Moyers Journal,' Mr. Moyers was back in the studio on a Wednesday morning in December, deep in conversation about moral political psychology with the author Jonathan Haidt.

The interview veered from Manichean thinking among baby boomers to the social conservative understanding of karma, all as it related to the roots of the country's political divide. Mr. Moyers worked his way through a sheaf of notes, as the scheduled 90 minutes stretched a good hour longer. ('This is fun,' he said to his guest during a pause.) Emerging from the studio, he said he had decided mid-interview that the discussion would probably take up the entire hour on his new weekly program, rather than be a 20-minute segment.

'Bill Moyers Journal' ended in April 2010 because Mr. Moyers, now 77, said he needed a break from the incessant demands of weekly television. But there's no sign he is easing up this time around.

The new show, which begins this month on public television stations, has a different name, 'Moyers & Company,' and a warmer set, featuring a blue-and-green background. But much will carry over from the old program, including Mr. Moyers's thoughtful interviews with thinkers who wouldn't otherwise get much television face time and a focus on the country's most pressing political and economic questions. 'I'm coming back because in tumultuous times like these I relish the company of people who try to make sense of the tumult,' Mr. Moyers writes on his Web site, billmoyers.com.

It turns out Moyers got some help from a wealthy ally in the NYC nonprofit universe.

The seeds of Mr. Moyers's return were planted several months after his last show ended by Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

When 'Bill Moyers Journal' ended, 'I was very sad,' Mr. Gregorian said in a telephone interview, praising the host's intelligence and 'the respect with which he approached everyone, whether he agreed with them, to know their ideas.' Mr. Moyers, he added, helps in 'enlightening our democracy' - a Carnegie mission - by putting 'before our nation questions that we should discuss.' The Carnegie Corporation, which was instrumental in the founding of public television, gave Mr. Moyers a lead gift of $2 million for the new show.

Jensen made only one brief reference to why not everyone succumbs to Moyers' psuedo-intellectual spell. While Moyers was never called liberal, he was somehow a "target of some conservatives."

Mr. Moyers said he was unsure why PBS, where he has spent most of his career since 1971, declined the show for its main schedule. Some public television executives, who would not publicly comment on a sensitive issue, said they believed that PBS did not want to realign itself with Mr. Moyers, a longtime target of some conservatives, as it was fighting to keep its federal financing.


In the interview Mr. Moyers added that with the Web site, 'we don't have to worry about somebody at PBS losing sleep over the fact that David Stockman says the Republicans have lost their minds on taxes.'

Typically, there were no dissenting voices in Jensen's piece.

Jensen performed similar service in an earlier profile of Moyers on May 2, 2010, under a headline that posed a question that only a liberal Times reader would ask: 'How, Exactly, Do You Follow Bill Moyers?' Jensen focused on left-wing complaints about Newsweek editor Jon Meachem, the host of the program replacing Moyers' 'Now on PBS,' without ever delving into conservative complaints about Moyers and his history of neo-Marxist rhetoric delivered in a just-folks Texas accent. Moyers was merely called 'the lion of PBS.' Not even the 'liberal lion.'