Friday, May 20, 2005

Rush to Judgment

Limbaugh leads the echo
chamber’s attack on Bill Moyers

By Craig Aaron and Timothy Karr

Bill Moyers gave an historic speech last Sunday in St. Louis, a clarion defense of quality journalism and public broadcasting from the partisan attacks of the White House and its minions at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

“CPB was established almost 40 years ago to set broad policy for public broadcasting and to be a firewall between political influence and program content,” Moyers told a packed house at the National Conference for Media Reform, lambasting CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson’s personal crusade against “liberal advocacy” journalism at PBS. “We’re seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable.”

Blowin' Smoke
The speech is ricocheting around the Internet and has been broadcast nationwide on TV and radio. The right-wing responded by going into attack mode. On Thursday, Rush Limbaugh went apoplectic, unleashing an on-air tirade against Moyers. Limbaugh had taken a break from his golf game to watch a few minutes of the hour-long speech on C-SPAN2 because he’d heard “my name was taken in vain so often.” (And Limbaugh accuses Moyers of having a God complex.)

Moyers’ speech didn’t mention Limbaugh once. But Rush may have recognized himself in a few of Moyers’ pronouncements. For instance: “The more compelling our journalism, the angrier the radical right of the Republican Party gets. That’s because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned as a liberal is to tell the truth.”

Unable to impugn Moyers credentials -- after all, he’s a former White House staffer with three decades in the television news business and countless Emmy awards -- Rush questioned his sanity. In less than 30 seconds, he dismissed media reformers and Moyers as “unhinged,” “literally insane” and “off their rockers.”

Incapable of winning this debate based on the facts, the best the right-wing media can do is trot out their A-list of bloviators, engage in fact-challenged character assassination, and hope that’s enough to fire up the right-wing echo chamber. (They’re using the same tactics to try to take down Newspaper Guild chief Linda Foley for daring to question why so many journalists are being killed by U.S. forces in Iraq.) When reason fails, they always have volume.

Over at the CPB, Tomlinson relies on the same tactics of innuendo. But when it comes to the facts, he’s far less forthcoming. He paid a consultant $10,000 to monitor Moyers’ program for signs of “liberal bias.” (Moyers left “NOW” at the end of last year.) The guest list of Moyers program includes characters from across the political spectrum, including conservative movement leaders Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and Richard Viquerie.

This wasn’t good enough for Tomlinson. His decision to pay someone to monitor “liberal bias” at “NOW” has prompted Reps. John Dingell (D-MICH.) and David Obey (D-WIS.) to request an investigation by the CPB's inspector general into charges “of political interference into public broadcasting.”

Tomlinson refuses to release the results of this spying, claiming that they might “damage public broadcasting’s image with controversy.” But it seems far more likely that he just didn’t like the conclusions.

After all, this is the CPB chairman who buried a survey commissioned by his own agency when its results confirmed that “the majority of the U.S. adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased.” In that same survey, 80 percent of Americans agreed that PBS is “fair and balanced,” and more than 50 percent found PBS news programming to be more trustworthy than network television or the cable networks.

Moyers has challenged Tomlinson to join him for an hour on PBS to discuss these facts and the current controversy. Thus far, Tomlinson has declined, preferring to spend his time writing columns for the Washington Times and fielding softball questions on Fox News. (Tomlinson told Bill O’Reilly: “We love your show.”)

Even when he ventured onto NPR, Tomlinson showed he still doesn’t get it. When his description of Moyers’ show was challenged by WAMU’s Diane Rehm, he quipped: “Am I gonna have to go back and hire another consultant and demonstrate this is incorrect?"

Now, the public is telling Tomlinson what it really thinks of his efforts to remake public broadcasting as a mouthpiece for right-wing views. More than 75,000 concerned citizens already have signed a petition calling for Tomlinson’s resignation (add your name here) and supporting the creation of nationwide town hall meetings on the future of public broadcasting.

These public hearings -- which have been endorsed by Moyers -- would give average people the chance to meet face-to-face with station managers, elected officials and federal regulators to express what they want and expect from their public broadcasting system. It’s the first step in putting the public back in PBS.

We suspect public hearings will show, once and for all, that public broadcasting isn’t a left-right, liberal-or-conservative issue. Listening to the public will make it clear that millions of Americans across the political spectrum are outraged by ongoing government efforts to manipulate the media and public opinion.

Americans don’t need more shouting heads and partisan posturing. They want quality journalism, diversity of views and reliable information.

Apparently, these are ideas that make Tomlinson and Limbaugh squirm.


Anonymous said...

Want more hypocrisy? Last night I was at a D.C. event and involved in a group discussion with Tomlinson who called Moyers an "intellectual coward" because Moyers was unwilling to present the other side of the political spectrum on his show. At least four people, not including Tomlinson's son who was also there, witnessed Tomlinson's remarks.

So, if I understand this correctly, Tomlinson is calling Moyers an intellectual coward because he will not meet with the likes of himself on t.v. -- and all the while Tomlinson is refusing to meet with Moyers? You gotta love that reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Rush--

Bill Moyers is INFINITELY more respectable than you. AND, Bill doesn't seem to have your problem with GLUTTONY.

Anonymous said...

And we should value the words of a Drug Addict womanizer like Limbaugh I Dont Think so

Anonymous said...

If it was only hypocrisy, the actions of this administration would be laughable. But it is not hypocrisy that they want, they want complete freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want while keeping the people bamboozled with a blizzard of lies.

The administrations attempts and successes at manipulating the news media should be enough to call for impeachment hearings, because their actions are in fact treasonous.

If in fact the people are the boss and our representatives are our servants, since when did we say it was OK for the servants to take over the household with deception, dishonesty, disregard for human rights, disrespect for American citizens and a complete distortion of historical and current events in order to manipulate the public into becoming servants of the government.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," and the republicans, major corporations and their lackluster dupes are perverting the intent of the founders of this nation from a nation that has as its goal the protection of individual rights to a nation that protects the government and major corporations from the people.

Step by step the corporate leadership in this country is undoing the existing contract between government and the people.

The contract is simple; the people agree to make all types of sacrifices in order to support their freedom and opportunities and in repayment the government agrees to protect the people and their rights.

More important than hypocrisy is the fact that the right wing in this country is not living up to its part of the agreement. Therefore, in order to demonstrate to government that the people remain in charge, they should end their part of the agreement, and let's see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Amen to everything stated above by all posters. In addition, I'm compelled to add that, sadly, although it may be true that Limburger's audience isn't growing, it still represents a large number of morons that make up a significant portion of the voting population. They happily swallow the party line propaganda wholesale, and spout it nearly verbatim.

It's easier than thinking for themselves. Unfortunately, they comprise the majority of people, not only here, but the world over. That is the power of the radical right.

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, God help us, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can take up a collection to have Rush waxed!!

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Jimmy Swaggart was, at least until he got caught with his pants down with a prostitue.

Oh yeah, and Jim Bakker got caught commiting rape. Not to mention all those pedophile priests.

And Rush Limburger? The drugs, definitely the drugs.

Speaking of drugs, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the "president" a confirmed cocaine addict?

Anonymous said...

In recent weeks, Rush Limbaugh's vocalizing has displayed anguish and stress to almost the point of incoherence as he pours out mindless garbage.

It creates the impression that a 4th stay at Rehab well might be in the offing.

Anonymous said...

UH-OH Looks like Rush is back on the pills!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Any honest person can see that Moyers has a liberal bias, but lets quit pretending that there is such a thing as "objectivity." EVERYONE has biases that you can't get away from. Instead, be honest about your biases and do your best to be fair. PBS has a liberal bias.

So what. They still produce good programs. Fox News leans to the right. Everybody knows these things, that's why people are turned off by the conceit of
"objectivity." At least you know exactly where Rush's biases are. Moyers pretends he doesn't have any.