Moyers & Company Attacks Conservative Organization, Promotes Liberal Group

It’s not Big Bird, but it sure is another reason to defund PBS. GRIT TV host and former Air-America Radio host Laura Flanders, substituting for Bill Moyers on PBS’s “Moyers & Company,” interviewed Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson on September 28. The two liberals used their taxpayer funded platform to attack the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC is a non-profit organization that promotes state-based policy initiatives. It’s been heavily criticized by the left for its politically conservative stance on many issues. In March 2012, a group of lefty organizations including the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Center for Media and Democracy (which are not the same group, despite the similarities in name), the Center for American Progress, People for the American Way, United Republic, Common Cause and Color of Change, launched a campaign to pressure the corporations that funded ALEC to withdraw their support.

Flanders praised the work of Rashad’s group throughout the interview. “Your organization hasn’t been around for a hundred years, doesn’t have millions of dollars, what gave you the idea that you could take them on?”

Encouragement probably came from none other than … Bill Moyers.

Moyers heads the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, which has given away $1,360,000 to groups like the Center for Media and Democracy, Center for American Progress, People for the American Way and Common Cause who are leading the attack on ALEC. Billionaire George Soros also donated substantial sums of money to those same organizations. And with “Moyers & Company,” on PBS, Robinson could be assured of an unabashedly friendly TV outlet to help with the PR

Flanders let Robinson promote his organizations agenda for most of the 10 minute, 43 second interview. She even prodded him to further pressure ALEC members to pull out. “Is there any corporation that wasn’t among the forty that left that you’re frustrated by, that refused to budge?” Robinson listed several corporations that he would like to see pull out of ALEC, and promised that Color of Change would “continue to hold them accountable for the other ways they hurt our communities.”

The campaign against ALEC, dubbed “ALEC Exposed,” had already managed to pressure several of ALEC’s donors to pull their funding from the group, including Kraft, McDonalds, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.

Bill Moyers really doesn’t like ALEC, as evidenced by his serial attacks on the group.

In a documentary entitled “The United States of ALEC” which aired as an episode of “Moyers & Company” on September 28, Moyers and the Center for Media and Democracy’s Lisa Graves attacked the ALEC for half an hour.

Though Moyers has been criticized for his connections to the groups involved in ALEC Exposed, they were never mentioned in the eight stories about ALEC that have appeared on Moyers’ website in 2012. But as president of the Schumann Center, Moyers has funded four of the groups involved in the attack on ALEC:

  • Center for American Progress ($1,100,000)
  • Center for Media and Democracy ($250,000 in the 2000s and $75,000 in the 90s)
  • People for the American Way ($10,000)
  • The Schumann Center was also listed as a foundation donor in Common Cause’s 2011 annual report, although the amount of money given was unspecified.

On October 4, billmoyers.com cited the work of the Schumann-funded Center for Media and Democracy, calling it a “progressive watchdog group,” but again neglected to disclose the connection between this group and Bill Moyers.

The same four organizations that received funds from Moyers have also received money from Soros’s Open Society Foundation since 2000, totaling, $12,338,491:

  • Center for American Progress ($5,784,991)
  • People for the American Way ($4,200,000)
  • Common Cause ($2,153,500)
  • Center for Media and Democracy ($200,000)

The Open Society foundation also gave $300,000 to Color of Change in 2010.

Moyers is an inveterate and outspoken left-winger. He has spoken in favor of liberal causes, including Occupy Wall Street, on “Moyers and Company.” He even went so far as to compare Occupiers to abolitionists and suffragettes. He has also called the gun-rights group the National Rifle Association “the enabler of death — paranoid, delusional and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax.”

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics expressly states that “Journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived,” and that they should “remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility,” and, furthermore, that journalists should “shun secondary employment, political involvement … if they compromise journalistic integrity.”

Of course, Moyers probably isn’t in violation of the code for journalists. He’s an activist and a PBS institution. But he’s no journalist.

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a staff writer for the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute.