Bill Moyers Attacks Republicans While Evoking Memories of Howard Beale

Former PBS host Bill Moyers wrote a recent blog entry for the Huffington Post that could be used as an advertisement for Democratic political candidates in the upcoming midterm elections. In his piece, Moyers addressed corruption in Congress as exclusively a Republican scandal, tying all of the problems on the Hill to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, while conveniently ignoring the various Democrats, including Senate minority leader Harry Reid, that have taken money from the now disgraced lobbyist.

After a brief introduction, Moyers went right into the Democratic talking points:

DeLay was a man on the move and on the take. But he needed help to sustain the cash flow. He found it in a fellow right wing ideologue named Jack Abramoff. Abramoff personifies the Republican money machine of which DeLay with the blessing of the House leadership was the major domo.”

Moyers continued with such talking points by going after “young Republican” organizations and their previous leaders:

“Just last month Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, a spectacular fall for a man whose rise to power began 25 years ago with his election as Chairman of the College Republicans. Despite its innocuous name, the organization became a political attack machine for the Far Right and a launching pad for younger conservatives on the make. 'Our job,' Abramoff, then 22 years old, wrote after his first visit to the Reagan White House, 'is to remove liberals from power permanently [from] student newspaper and radio stations, student governments, and academia.' Karl Rove had once held the same job as chairman. So did Grover Norquist, who ran Abramoff's campaign. A youthful $200-a-month intern named Ralph Reed was at their side. These were the rising young stars of the conservative movement who came to town to lead a revolution and stayed to run a racket.”

Stayed to run a racket? Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and Ralph Reed are running a racket? Sadly, Moyers’ tirade didn’t end there. After detailing his own views of Abramoff, DeLay, and the U.S. Family Network, Moyers disputed the veracity of Republican plans to resolve lobbying problems in Washington while he castigated those offering such solutions:

“There are no victimless crimes in politics. The cost of corruption is passed on to you. When the government of the United States falls under the thumb of the powerful and privileged, regular folks get squashed.

“Washington would have you believe this is just ‘a lobbying scandal.’ They would have you think that if they pass a few nominal reforms, put a little more distance between the politician and the lobbyist, you will think everything is okay and they can go back to business as usual.

"They're trying it now. Just look at Congressman John Boehner, elected to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. Today he speaks the language of reform, but ten years ago Boehner was handing out checks from the tobacco executives on the floor of the House. He has thought nothing of hopping on corporate jets or cruising Caribbean during winter breaks with high-powered lobbyists.

“Moreover, the man Boehner beat to succeed DeLay - Congressman Roy Blunt - has been elected to DeLay's first job as Majority Whip despite being deeply compromised by millions upon millions of dollars raised from the same interests that bought off DeLay.”

Unfortunately, as Moyers castigated those on the right who are trying to affect a change to a problem that Moyers clearly finds repugnant, he failed to mention any Democratic proposals that he agrees with. As a result, Moyers came off as just another whining Liberal disatisfied with the status quo, but with absolutely no answers to make things better. Instead, Moyers finished his rant with platitudes as opposed to solutions:

“It is time to fight again. These people in Washington have no right to be doing what they are doing. It's not their government, it's your government. They work for you. They're public employees - and if they let us down and sell us out, they should be fired. That goes for the lowliest bureaucrat in town to the senior leaders of Congress on up to the President of the United States.”

Well, Bill, your Howard Beale rant was spectacular, although it missed the requisite advice for your readers to go to their windows and shout “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Moreover, unless you’re advocating a reduction in the number of seats that each chamber of Congress holds, mightn’t it have been wise to inform the reader as to which candidates out there actually represent an answer to the problems you have enumerated? Also, since Abramoff has indeed given money to Democratic members of Congress, a fact that you and your ilk always conveniently obfuscate, wouldn’t it have been advisable to inform the reader who these folks are as well to add credibility to your call to action?

After all, if you really want the public to throw the bums out, shouldn’t this be a clean sweep of all those with dirty faces? Or, are you only inciting the masses to throw out fallen Republican angels?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.