Bill Moyers: Moyers on America

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Moyers, Bill. Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times (New York: New Press, 2004)

Matt Drudge and Bill Moyers illustrate the difference between journalism as simulated on the Right and practiced on the Left: Drudge with his short, sleazy, and occasionally slanderous website; and Moyers with his thoughtful and contemplative PBS broadcasts. Drudge promotes a brash self-aggrandizement where Moyers encourages contemplation and community. Moyers quotes (accurately) sources across the political spectrum (from Thoreau and Adam Smith to Leo Strauss and Grover Norquist) in personable essays that illuminate--rather than obscure--our relationship to the news media. In spite of his reserved demeanor, Moyers sidesteps the perils of blandness to deliver criticisms of our money-driven "raw reactionary politics" (p. 10) and the media in their thrall:

Conservatives--or, better, pro-corporate apologists--hijacked the vocabulary of Jeffersonian liberalism and turned words such as progress, opportunity, and individualism into tools for making the plunder of America sound like divine right. (pp. 10-1, "This Is Your Story. Pass It On")

Stretching from the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to the faux news of Rupert Murdoch's empire to the nattering nabobs of know-nothing radio to a legion of think tanks paid for and bought by conglomerates - the religious, partisan and corporate right have raised a mighty megaphone for sectarian, economic, and political forces that aim to transform the egalitarian and democratic ideals embodied in our founding documents. (p. 129, "The Fight of Our Lives")

For faux populism--and Faux News--there is no shortage of right-wing media outlets. One wonders: how deep is the left/right divide between news and noise? Is it more than coincidence that the more ephemeral and demagogic media (Fox, talk radio, op-ed pages) are more conservative while the more deliberative and contemplative ones (magazines, books, NPR) are more liberal?

Moyers doesn't answer these questions, but thinking about his example can help us answer them for ourselves.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 28, 2008 9:31 PM.

Dinesh D'Souza is wrong about his own deity was the previous entry in this blog.

Sam Harris: Letter to a Christian Nation is the next entry in this blog.

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