Nothing Has Changed Except for "Goodbye Moyers, Hello Bush Institute" (STOP THE MADNESS!)

From my fellow blogger, R.J. Sigmund, I learn that it's "Goodbye Moyers, Hello Bush Institute." Actually, I heard it in a few other places too, but his sources are excellent. It's a deep game, folks. Read on.

Tell PBS: Don't abandon hard-hitting journalism. Click here to sign FAIR's petition.

Remember how important it was that Bill Moyers' programs existed in order to explain what happened to us (US) over a year ago (September 2008)? Here he interviews Gretchen Morgenson and Floyd Norris from The New York Times' financial pages (and further exposes Alan Greenspan as a fraud of the first order). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Two of the hardest-hitting shows on public television - Now and the Bill Moyers' Journal - will be going off the air in April, as FAIR reported last month (Action Alert, December 15, 2009). The two shows stand out as examples of what PBS public affairs programs should be: unflinching independent journalism and analysis. The shows have covered poverty, war and media consolidation - not to mention serious discussions of subjects taboo elsewhere, like the case for impeaching George W. Bush.

PBS has offered very little explanation of what will replace these shows, saying only that they will announce changes sometime this month. But one line-up change many PBS viewers will see this February is the addition of Ideas in Action - a show produced by the George W. Bush Institute, part of the new presidential library in Dallas.

According to Danny Shea (Huffington Post, 12/22/09), the institute's executive director, James Glassman, will host the show; though not distributed by PBS, it's scheduled to appear on many public TV stations. Shea reported that the first episode would be "a discussion on pay for performance in education."

Glassman, a longtime fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, is perhaps best known for his remarkably optimistic - and wrong - book Dow 36,000. He also regularly penned op-eds for major U.S. newspapers that pushed views and policies that would directly benefit sponsors of his online news site, (Extra!, 3-4/05).

Such conservative, corporate-friendly programming is hardly new on PBS, which has long aired shows hosted by conservatives (McLaughlin Group, Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg, Tony Brown's Journal) as well as corporate-oriented programs (Nightly Business Report, CEO Exchange, Wall Street Week With Fortune).

Under Bush CPB chair Ken Tomlinson, PBS launched the Journal Editorial Report, a program that featured the Wall Street Journal's right-wing editorial board and was supposed to be a "balance" to Now - although unlike the Editorial Report, Now frequently had guests whose views differed from those of the show's producers (Extra! Update, 6/05).

With Now and the Moyers Journal going off the air, and at least one new public television offering produced by the Bush Institute, what will PBS offer viewers in the way of new, hard-hitting programming? Please join FAIR and thousands of signatories to our petition in demanding that the shows that replace Now and the Moyers Journal provide the same kind of critical, uncompromised journalism viewers deserve - and that live up to the mission of public broadcasting.

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Bad news for PBS viewers: Now and the Bill Moyers Journal will be taken off the air in April 2010. Both programs stood out as all-too-rare examples of the hard-hitting, independent programming that should thrive on public television - which is why PBS should replace these programs with similarly thoughtful shows that continue this tradition.

In late November Bill Moyers, who was also the original host of Now when it launched in 2002, announced that he would be stepping down from his Journal program, which first aired in 1972 and has been running in its current incarnation since 2007. The decision to cancel Now appears to rest with PBS, which has issued only a limited explanation, stating that the cancellation is part of the "review and reinvention of the news and public affairs genre on PBS," and is intended to help "revitalize public media in the context of today's rapidly changing communications environment."

As PBS ombud Michael Getler wrote (12/4/09): "I find the one and only PBS public statement thus far about the ending of these programs to be puzzling; unresponsive to dedicated viewers and to the high-profile role for public affairs junkies that these broadcasts have played for years on public television. There is no real explanation of why Now, in particular, is ending or what, if anything, will replace both programs."

Getler added: "Indeed, one can easily understand how the combination of these two particular programs being taken off the air simultaneously could be seen, certainly by many dedicated viewers, as signaling a move away from hard-hitting, controversial programs."

The mission of PBS, as set forth by the Carnegie Commission of 1967, is to "provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard," to serve as "a forum for controversy and debate," and broadcast programs that "help us see America whole, in all its diversity."

FAIR has documented over the years how PBS has failed to live up to that promise (Extra! Update, 6/05; Extra!, 3-4/95).

Two shows that did - and which aired, in many places, together on Friday evenings - will soon be gone. What replaces those programs will be a test of its commitment to the very foundations of public broadcasting itself.

The Journal, for example, offered in April 2007 a powerful review of mainstream media malfeasance in the run-up to the Iraq War. The show has featured probing discussions and reports on media consolidation, torture, race, the economy and much more. Now has amassed a similar record, with in-depth reports on the recession, health issues and Wall Street.

PBS says it will announce its plans for replacement programs in January. But there's no reason why the public should wait. Please join FAIR in sending a message to PBS: In an era of cable news chatter, public television stood out for carrying two programs committed to uncompromising, unflinching journalism. If PBS is not going to continue to carry these shows, then it should develop new programming that will be just as tough and independent.

Sign on to the petition here, and spread the word to your friends and family.

Get busy, folks. This might be the most important thing you do this year.



  1. Thank you for posting this information. I don't have a television but even I have heard of the outstanding job Bill Moyers has done on PBS. Everyone ought to sign that petition to support excellent journalism that can rarely be found anywhere else.

  2. Thank you so much, Liberality!

    If only everyone agreed with you.

    Love ya,