Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bill Moyers - Attacking Journalism

In Bill O'Reilly's "Culture Warrior," there a section about Bill Moyers which quotes Moyers as saying "I declined [appearing on 'The O'Reilly Factor'] for the simple reason that I do not believe journalism is about journalists attacking each other" (emphasis mine).

This archived copy of a LA Daily News article dated January 2003 backs up the authority of Moyers having said just that:

Moyers was asked for his reaction to Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly's recent on-air criticism of his reporting as having a liberal bias. Moyers said he does not usually watch other networks' newscasts, but he answered an O'Reilly column on the subject in the New York Daily News with an ad responding to "the false statements he made" about Moyers.

Moyers would like the issue to end because, he said, "I do not believe journalism is about journalists attacking each other."

Buying the War titleSo, my question to Mr. Moyers is how he reconciles that "simple reason" - that "journalism is about journalists attacking each other" - with his new PBS documentary, "Buying The War", which is nothing more than a giant attack on the press as a whole and conservative media in particular?

Although I don't think I would particularly enjoy Moyer's documentary, I think America was over-due in looking at the media's investigative failures prior to and during the beginning of the Iraq War. However, if you are going to play the "it's wrong to criticize other journalists" card when someone criticizes you, you've got a lot of explaining to do when you start criticizing other journalists en-masse.

Good recent coverage of Moyers over at NewsBusters:

1 comment:

kazoolist said...

An anonymous poster left a comment on this post that I assume was meant for here:

This may be hard for you to do but I suggest you try actually watching the Moyers documentary.

From a true conservative - and recovering Bush supporter...also try reading americanconmag. Moyers may be liberal but even liberals can tell the truth sometimes. This is one of them. He isn't attacking conservative journalism. He's attacking a press establishment that is in bed with whoever is in power in government. America needs a free press.

I missed all the TV airings of "Buying the War", but (fortunately?) a previous Bill Moyers PBS podcast I was subscribed to is now pulling down his new series's episodes, so I have the audio should I want to listen.

... And I was all ramped up to (for the sake of fairness) give it a listen. Then I watched the second episode of his new series which was a love-fest-interview between Moyers and Jon Stewart. I'm now increasingly skeptical that "Buying the War" is worth my time ... we'll see.

In any event, my post was really to try to point out some very hypocritical reasoning of Moyers - is it OK to criticize other journalists or not? Personally, I think Moyers doing "Buying the War" and criticizing other journalists is A.O.K. As you point out, we do need a free press. Part of that is allowing the press to run with whatever it wants. Another part is allowing other members of the press to hold the facts of the original stories to account.

It's that latter part of a free press that Moyers apparently engaged in with "Buying the War." But, it's that exact same kind of thing that O'Reilly would engage in if Moyers had the stones to go on The Factor.

For Moyers to say what O'Reilly does isn't "journalism" isn't consistent with Moyers putting together this kind of documentary, and I judged that lack of consistency worthy of criticism - hence, the post.