Bill Moyers Fires Back at NewsBusters

March 7th, 2006 12:22 PM
Bill Moyers, former CBS reporter and former host of PBS's "Now with Bill Moyers," has fired back at a NewsBusters article that criticized him for only going after Republicans.

Now that he no longer works at PBS, Moyers has free time for such things as blogging, which he does for the Huffington Post.

In a piece called "Bill Moyers Attacks Republicans While Evoking Memories of Howard Beale," NB contributor Noel Sheppard critiqued Moyers's Huffington essay as being "an advertisement for Democratic political candidates."

"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."

Moyers has responded, in a letter sent to me via a public TV spokesman. (Apparently Moyers is still on the government payroll.)

Mr. Sheffield,

In Noel Sheppard's March 5 column "Bill Moyers Attacks Republicans While Evoking Memories of Howard Beale," he conveniently ignores what preceded and followed the excerpt he selected from my speech "Saving Democracy." Sheppard says I "addressed corruption in Congress as exclusively a Republican scandal." That's wrong, and you owe your readers an apology for taking the excerpt out of context. Just before the very passage that Sheppard quotes from the speech, I said:

"I want to point out here that I believe in equal opportunity muckraking. When I left Washington for journalism I did not leave behind my conviction that government should see to it that we have a more level playing field with one set of rules for everyone, but I did leave behind my partisan affections. Anyone who saw the documentary my team and I produced a few years ago on the illegal fund raising for Bill Clinton's re-election, knows I am no fan of the democratic money machine that helped tear the party away from whatever roots it once had in the daily lives and struggles of working people, turning it into a junior partner of the Chamber of Commerce. I mean people like California's Congressman Tony Coelho, who in the 1980s realized that Congressional Democrats could milk the business community for money if they promised to "pay for play." I mean people like Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman who gave Bill Clinton the idea of renting the Lincoln bedroom out to donors, and who did such a good job raising big money for the Democrats that by the end of his reign, Democrats had fewer small donors than the Republicans and more fat cats writing them million-dollar checks.

But let's be realistic here. When the notorious Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, "Because there is where the money is." If I seem to be singling out the Republicans, it's for one reason: that's where the power is."

In the speech I do propose what those "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" citizens can do: Get behind a bi-partisan campaign for clean money in all campaigns, by Democrats and Republicans alike.

I don't speak for Democrats or Republicans. They can speak for themselves in explaining their connections to big-time Washington lobbyists. As an independent journalist I base my reporting on the evidence. The speech is fact-based. The case is well-documented. Your readers should read the entire text of the speech (, assess the facts as I lay them out, and make up their own minds.

Bill Moyers

Noel Sheppard responded to this by saying:

Mr. Moyers,

With all due respect, I believe you have forgotten what you excerpted at the Huffington Post versus what you said during your speech. If you take a moment to review what you posted at Arianna’s blog, you will see that none of the text you copied in your e-mail message to Mr. Sheffield was included there.

As such, I didn’t conveniently ignore anything. It was you who chose to not include the segments from your speech in your blog post that involved your views of Bill Clinton, Tony Coelho, and other Democrats. You didn’t even include a link to the entire text of your speech for the convenience of your readers. Certainly, you can’t perceive this as being the reader’s fault, can you?


Noel Sheppard