3/01/2005

Bill Moyers lets it rip...

...in an interview with the Santa Barbara Independent Online. Excerpts:

I never took (Bush) as a compassionate conservative. I’m a Texan. I saw what he had done to Texas and I knew he would do to the nation what he had done to Texas. And by God he’s done it. He’s turned the environment over to the polluters, he’s turned the courts over to big business, and he’s turned the schools over to the religious right. I was not fooled by his prevarications and his camouflage and his deceits.

There are always a lot of people who prefer the comfortable lie to the uncomfortable truth. In this case, a majority of voters knew exactly what you’re saying, yet voted for him none the less. They did so for one of two reasons. First, Bush had America scared to death. And fear was the dominant issue in that campaign, not moral values. Second, many of Bush’s supporters buy into the belief system that he and his allies have propounded. And in that belief system — which is supported by Fox News and talk radio — no evidence to the contrary can be permitted. Ideologues embrace a worldview that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary. The Washington Post had a story about a study recently about how even if what people first hear turns out to be wrong, they still tend to believe it’s true. That’s because, if it fits their value system, they don’t change it after they learn it’s not true. It’s a weird phenomenon. I’d also say conservatives have never been more politically dominant and more intellectually and morally bankrupt. Because of that they can keep their troops believing the Big Lie. The Big Lie is that the threat of Al Qaeda is greater to us than the threat of low wages, environmental pollution, the growing inequality in America, or the terrible failure of the Bush policies on schools. People just didn’t want the uncomfortable truth to disturb the comfortable lie.

It’s so interesting that one of the chief critics of smut in television, Brent Bozell, who runs a right-wing media watch group [Media Research Center], is silent when it comes to the public standards of Rupert Murdoch’s sleaze empire. They do have a double standard. They are silent about the fact that it’s capitalism, and that it’s the media tycoons who are polluting the public sphere.
I know there are a lot of people who are conservatives and Christians who do not share the Republican ideology...The mainstream media doesn’t give a damn. It wants the most flamboyant outspoken sensational Pat Robertson it can get.

(To get my news) I use the Internet widely and I read 10-12 newspapers every week and 50 magazines every month. I scan them. You have to work hard to stay informed in this society. You can’t take any one newspaper or any one magazine and expect to be informed. You have to work at it. Anybody who has the energy and the time and the will can be informed today. But you can’t do it by listening to one broadcast or watching one cable channel or reading one newspaper. You really have to become your own editor today. I think that’s both exhilarating and exhausting. It is also a necessity. You can’t rely on the networks. You have to read the other side and listen to the other side. I spend as much time with conservative Web sites and conservative journals as I do with the New York Times, Washington Post, or the L.A. Times.

(Bush has) Texanized American politics. I was never fooled by it, but if you go home to Texas today, it’s a Christian empire. The state of Texas is a Christian nation. Conservative Christians dominate everything there. I don’t know Bush. I’ve never met him. I don’t know if he’s a likable man or not. But I know if I met him I would ask him, “How can you grow up well-churched and well-loved and well-taught and be so utterly insensitive to other people’s reality? How can you be so indifferent to people?” He’s a privileged man who is the ally of people who are trying to undo the social contract in this country and to take us back to the pre-1932 period, when it was every man for himself and American economic strategy was to let the animal spirits of capitalism run and everyone take the consequences. I do not understand that. Except to say that if a son of privilege cannot see beyond his own prerogatives and is therefore unable to feel and see how life is for others, then that’s a tragedy and a political travesty.

And when asked if he would choose to go into journalism if he had it to do over again:
If you want to go cover Michael Jackson, I guess yes. But if you want to be a serious student and analyst of the world, if you want to do really good journalism and journalism that tells the truth as you see it, then broadcast journalism is not the place to go today. There are still good newspapers. If you’re young today and you have a fire in your belly, you’ve got to follow it because it’s that fire that will sustain you in moments of low wages, in the face of indifferent editors and hostile owners, and a public at large that doesn’t care. But if it were me, I’d probably do the same thing over again.

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