You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bill Moyers Re-Occupies Public TV, but not PBS

Bill Moyers returns to public television beginning this Friday in a new program, “Moyers & Company,” which bears all the hallmarks of his earlier work for PBS.

Except the show actually won’t be on PBS, but rather is being offered to stations via American Public Television. (You can find station and scheduling info here.)

MoyersMoyers’ show is thoughtful, sober and provocative. He tackles issues in rare and welcome depth, including an interview with two political scientists — Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, who authored the book “Winner-Take-All Politics” — that takes up most of the hour.

What it is not — and makes absolutely no pretense of being — is balanced, thus opening up public TV stations, yet again, to charges of liberal bias, and probably explains why PBS isn’t involved.

So be it.

There’s no doubt Moyers is a liberal, and it’s pretty clear where his heart –- bleeding, if you happen to disagree with him –- lies. His guests speak of a political system that has produced “a winner-take-all economy,” with “astonishing” gains for the richest of the rich.

The Bush tax cuts, says Pierson, were “written like a subprime mortgage,” further exacerbating a rift not so much between haves and have-nots as “have-it-alls vs. the rest of Americans.”

The last quarter of the show is devoted to the Occupy Wall Street movement, with a clearly sympathetic view toward its politics.

“Inequality matters,” Moyers says in his closing comments, promising to pursue the issue further in the next two broadcasts, including an interview with former Reagan economic guru David Stockman.

Public broadcasting is always going to be a ripe target for conservatives, who have sought to slash funding in recent years. Part of that has to do with a longstanding perception it represents a mouthpiece for the left, though there’s also a self-serving element in outlets like Fox News Channel railing against PBS and NPR, which provides the perfect foil (Government spending! Prius-driving wheat-germ eaters!) on multiple levels.

Personally, I’d welcome a dozen more shows of every political stripe — liberal, conservative, whatever — if the hosts followed Moyers’ template, pressing their case without name-calling, raising their voices or fabricating arguments. Even if you reject every word he says, it’s a valuable articulation of a certain point of view. As Moyers says on his website, “Our aim is dialogue, not diatribe.”

In short, it’s nice to have him back.

More Voices

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in 2017. A study conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that [...]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    If fiction is the lie that tells a deeper truth, the TV crime genre has been, for the most part, the lie that simply tells a lie. As a storyteller (Veena) and an advocate for racial justice (Rashad), we collaborated for the past two-and-a-half years in an attempt to reimagine the roles of cops, victims, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content