Moyers Claims He's Conservative, a 'Thomas Paine Radical,' Free of Ideological Blinders

In an interview with Harvey Blume for the Boston Globe, PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers denied he's become radical unless it's "Thomas Paine radical," and "In many other ways, I'm a conservative," since he's been married a long time and goes to church. He said he's still driven to produce passionate documentaries for PBS because he's vowed to never again "let ideology blind us to the facts on the ground."

Globe: Have you become more radical over the years?

Moyers: Radical in the sense of returning to the roots of the American experience, maybe, as in Thomas Paine radical. What I find is that money has become the common denominator of politics. Both parties have become its servants. And I’ve seen it get worse; I’ve seen our democracy become paralyzed by the influence of big money. I did "Capitol Crimes" because I want people to know the magnitude it has reached.

In other ways, I’m a conservative. I’ve been married to the same woman for 52 years. I’m a regular at church. I am a believer.

Globe: Have you ever felt like you were being pushed out of PBS?

Moyers: A friend from the Lyndon Johnson years recently reminded me that when he got on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1969, they were talking about how to get rid of Bill Moyers.

Globe: What does that say about PBS?

Moyers: It’s a place where if you fight you can survive, but it’s not easy. The fact of the matter is that Kenneth Tomlinson had a chilling effect down the line.

Globe: It’s been said that you have the oratorical flair of a preacher. Does your religious faith help fuel your political passion?

Moyers: I don’t see it that way. At an Emmy Awards recently, I said I want to thank the First Amendment. Faith in the First Amendment, not a theological belief system, keeps me going as a journalist.

Let me put it this way: I was press secretary in the Johnson administration when we circled the wagons and mocked reporting from Vietnam from the likes of David Halberstam—with terrible consequences for Vietnam and America. We let ideology blind us to the facts on the ground. That’s the driving force in my work, to never let it happen again.

From a conservative point of view, it's awfully hard to locate precisely where this alleged Tomlinson Chilling Effect is blowing snowflakes. Two shows Tomlinson put on air, "Tucker Carlson Unfiltered" and the "Journal Editorial Report," are no longer on PBS. But Bill Moyers is still producing trumped-up documentaries in the last weeks of an election season.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis