Last Friday, the National Security Archive, a research institute and library located at George Washington University that collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Former PBS host Bill Moyers gave a speech to the attendees that evening in which, as has been typical for him, he didn’t have very nice things to say about the Bush administration. The full text is too long to do justice to the breadth of Moyers’ antagonism towards this White House, but some of the lowlights are:
- “It has to be said: there has been nothing in our time like the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy.”
- “No wonder the public knows so little about how this administration has deliberately ignored or distorted reputable scientific research to advance its political agenda and the wishes of its corporate patrons. I'm talking about the suppression of that EPA report questioning aspects of the White House Clear Skies Act; research censorship at the departments of health and human services, interior and agriculture; the elimination of qualified scientists from advisory committees on kids and lead poisoning, reproductive health, and drug abuse; the distortion of scientific knowledge on emergency contraception; the manipulation of the scientific process involving the Endangered Species Act; and the internal sabotage of government scientific reports on global warming.”
- “This is the administration that has illegally produced phony television news stories with fake reporters about Medicare and government anti-drug programs, then distributed them to local TV stations around the country. In several markets, they aired on the six o'clock news with nary a mention that they were propaganda bought and paid for with your tax dollars.”
- “This is the administration that paid almost a quarter of a million dollars for rightwing commentator Armstrong Williams to talk up its No-Child-Left-Behind education program and bankrolled two other conservative columnists to shill for programs promoting the President's marriage initiative.”
- “This is the administration that tacitly allowed inside the White House a phony journalist under the non-de-plume of Jeff Gannon to file Republican press releases as legitimate news stories and to ask President Bush planted questions to which he could respond with preconceived answers.”
- “And this is the administration that has paid over one hundred million dollars to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers and disguise the source, while banning TV cameras at the return of caskets from Iraq as well as prohibiting the publication of photographs of those caskets - a restriction that was lifted only following a request through the Freedom of Information Act.”
Moyers told his guests that the administration is getting away with this because the press isn’t at “the top of their game,” and claimed, “Never has the need for an independent media been greater.” What does Moyers believe is the problem with today’s press?
- “Yet the press is hobbled today - hobbled by the vicissitudes of Wall Street investors who demand greater and greater profit margins at the expense of more investment in reporting”
- “The press is also hobbled by the intimidation from ideological bullies in the propaganda wing of the Republican Party who hector, demonize, and lie about journalists who ask hard questions of this regime.”
Of course, nowhere in this speech did Moyers suggest that the press is hobbled by an adherence to a liberal dogma that consistently biases their view of current events to such a degree that the overwhelmingly large percentage of the population now sees it, and, as a result, is rebelling against it.