PBS's Bill Moyers: Conservatives Ruining Democracy, Quashing Dissenters
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers previewed large chunks of his Jack Abramoff "Capitol Crimes" documentary (airing on PBS Wednesday) on far-left Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Tuesday. Asked why he was once again hammering away on conservatives on taxpayer-funded PBS stations, just weeks before the elections, Moyers predictably declared that America is going to hell in a handbasket under the right wing: "our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression." He told host Amy Goodman:
As I listened to you begin this broadcast with the litany of reality that you report, I got a slow burn, you know, at just what's happening to this country, to our government and to America under the reign of the corporate, political and religious right. And there are so few places that, as you are doing, are just simply telling the other side of the story, letting the facts add up, that I realize I couldn't sit in the rocking chair and comfortably enjoy the books I’m reading, while our democracy, it needs all the information those of us who are independent journalists can provide. So I came back, because there just is too much to report and too much to tell, at a particular time when I think we’re in a -- when our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression.
Moyers, the self-described "independent journalist," said he stepped away from the PBS mike to speak out against "ideological hack" Kenneth Tomlinson chairing the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
I mean, this is an ideological hack who was allowed to work his will behind closed doors, until he was exposed. And one of reasons I left my weekly broadcast on Public Broadcasting was to go public with what I knew he was doing. I couldn't do it while I was on the air, because it would have seemed self-serving. Well, his misdeeds cost him his chairmanship of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Bill Moyers, whose PBS documentaries are usually one-sided diatribes, predictably says that Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed were all conservatives and Reagan men, which meant they were all about quashing courageous dissent:
There's a wonderful shot in the documentary of Ralph Reed leading a demonstration against the government of Nicaragua on the Capitol streets and Capitol Mall in 1983 or ’84. They were all virulent anti-communists, virulent anti-liberals. I mean, in a car ride after his first visit to the White House, Jack Abramoff told someone, “Our job is to get rid of the liberals in power permanently.”
I mean, these were ideologically driven obsessed young men, who were buying into the, quote, “Reagan revolution,” out of a strong desire to quash dissent and opposition. He was tied up -- they were all -- many of them were tied up with the apartheid regime in South Africa. Abramoff ran a think tank that had money coming in part from the apartheid regime. He went out to Hollywood and made movies designed to make the apartheid regime look good. I mean, these were -- there's no other term for it. They were obsessed with ideology. They were obsessed with crushing all opposition to them. And that was the beginning.
Abramoff did receive money from the apartheid-era South African government. In The New Republic, Franklin Foer noted Abramoff's South Africa connection, but didn't see a racist angle in his film "Red Scorpion." Abramoff was seeing a hero in a black anti-communist, Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi:
That Abramoff could imagine Savimbi as an archetypal Hollywood hero wasn't that surprising, considering that Washington conservatives--with an assist from the IFF--had been lauding him as one....A script doctor turned Abramoff's folkloric version of Savimbi into a bad parody of the loud whiz-bang cold war thriller then popular with audiences. Red Scorpion, described as the "African Rambo," tells the story of a Soviet-trained assassin (Lundgren) sent to murder a Savimbi-like character. In the end, Lundgren comes to understand the virtues of the rebel cause and turns on his communist bosses, killing lots of Cubans in the process.
Other lobbies opposing apartheid, like Danny Glover's left-wing group TransAfrica, received money from communist regimes like Cuba, Libya, and Angola as Abramoff was making movies. (See Rich Lowry.) Their record on "quashing dissent" was a little.....shaky. But that's never been reported in a liberal Bill Moyers documentary on liberal PBS.