Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lefties Cry Over Departure of PBS's Moyers

So-called "progressives" often decry the rancor and tone of modern political commentary, usually placing complete blame for the nastiness on their conservative adversaries, be it radio/TV hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or Glenn Beck, or political strategists such as Lee Atwater or Karl Rove. They completely ignore the contributions their own side has made to the coarsening of political discourse, either working with the assumption that liberals practice only peace and love in political debate, or taking the approach that nasty, combative, and even misleading or outright false commentary directed toward one's opponents is justified in the name of taking the fight to the hate-filled, mean-spirited vast right-wing conspiracy.

A case in point is an old Pro Ecclesia favorite, Bill Moyers, and how the left has greeted news of his departure from his PBS series "Bill Moyers Journal". National Catholic Reporter's Thomas Fox touts Moyers as a "moral authority" in linking to this LA Times piece by Neal Gabler on Moyer's decision to close up shop: "Bill Moyers: a thoughtful voice amid the din".

Yeah, right. Gabler begins:
It is a testament to how much Bill Moyers matters that this quiet, humble man [ED.: People who are "humble" don't tend to be as thin skinned as Moyers clearly is.] can still stir passions. When he announced late last month he would be leaving his award-winning weekly PBS series, "Bill Moyers Journal," in April, some of us felt as if we were losing a sacred American institution, a repository of the nation's conscience [ED.: Hyperbolize much? And why is it that only left-of-center ideologues get described as "sacred American institutions" and "the nation's conscience" despite their overt hostility to faith in the public square and support for such unconscionable policy preferences as abortion on demand, euthanasia, and other means of population control, while right-of-center prickers of conscience are dismissed as "theocratic", "moralistic", or "puritanical" scolds seeking to "impose their moral values on the rest of the nation"?] or while others cheered. Right-wing bloviator Bill O'Reilly went so far as to boast that he had forced Moyers from the air -- a claim that was not only patently false but also a misconception of who Moyers is and what he does. Astonishing as it may be to anyone who has watched Moyers, his right-wing critics seem to see him as just another noisy shill among the army of blowhards, ideologues, demagogues and partisans on the airwaves. They couldn't be more wrong. [ED.: That's just it. His critics are NOT wrong in their assessment. We know, because we've been on the receiving end of Moyer's vitriol for decades now. His progressive adulators either ignore or don't recognize Moyer's mean-spirited tendencies because they happen to agree with him.]

The reason so many of us are already mourning Moyers' departure is that he is so unlike O'Reilly and that ilk. Though Moyers has certainly addressed the major issues of his times and taken fierce stands on them -- against military adventurism, against violence, against intolerance and hatred, for environmental sensitivity, for real healthcare reform [ED.: Once again, we see that religious fervor animating one's politics is just hunky dory when used to push a an agenda with which the media happens to agree; but Heaven forbid one be motivated by such beliefs in pursuit of an agenda with which the media is adamently opposed, such as the traditional definition of marriage and a culture that values each and every life, including the unborn] and grass-roots democracy -- and though his recent programs have provided the deepest and most invigorating discussions of these issues on television, most of his work has had little to do directly with politics or policy and nothing at all to do with opinion-mongering. He is far less interested in advancing a particular position than in inspiring moral growth in the hope of creating a more just and beneficent society. In short, far from being another cudgel-wielding pundit, Moyers may be television's only moralist.
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

Yes, he's certainly moralistic, alright. And, as "progressive" ideologues tend to become when self-assured in the moral superiority of their particular viewpoints (see, e.g., Jimmy Carter and Al Gore), Moyers is also insufferably sanctimonious. He's also pretty nasty in his own right toward those who do not share in his world view. Here are some examples gleaned just from the Pro Ecclesia archives:

  • Moyers' record reveals him to be someone interested in "digging dirt" on opponents and "as someone very comfortable with propaganda techniques";
  • Moyers routinely slanders those with whom he disagrees politically;
  • Moyers is a bully;
  • Moyers denigrates his political opponents as uncompromising "religious zealots" who "loathe democracy" (more on this momentarily); and
  • Moyers likes to call into question the sanity of conservatives - let us not forget that the destructive polorization of American politics could just as easily be laid at the door of Moyers who, as a member of the LBJ administration, personally green-lighted the infamous "Daisy Ad", which asserted that a vote for Sen. Barry Goldwater for President was a vote for nuclear destruction. Moyers also coined the anti-Goldwater slogan "In your guts, you know he's nuts." Moyers' opponents aren't just wrong, their mental stability is questionable.

  • Yes, so much for the "thoughtful" Moyers' efforts to raise the level of political discourse above the rancorous din. But I digress. Gabler continues to extol Moyers' "virtues":
    One cannot understand Moyers without understanding his theological training and his moral conviction. [ED.: Again, this is viewed as a credit when the subject is a liberal; when a conservative is animated by religious faith and moral conviction, it is viewed as "dangerous".] His mission has always been to make things better, not louder. In many respects he operates within the religious tradition of the social gospel with its concern for vivifying and actualizing religious values, though he has also called himself a Christian Realist, after the great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, by which he means, as he put it, to see the "world as it is, without illusions, and to take it on. . . . "

    This, far more than politics, explains Moyers' fervent populism. Populism is where his hardscrabble upbringing, his feeling for his fellow man and his Christianity has led him. (Of course Christianity has also led others to the opposite pole.) For him, politics is a means to a moral end. Christian Realism may also explain his tenacity. Moyers has said that one has a moral obligation to right wrongs, and in this cause, he has been fearless, which is why O'Reilly's braggadocio is so ridiculous. Moyers has never flinched in a fight. He is girded in moral armor.
    (emphasis and editorial commentary added)

    I will note once more the emphasis on Moyers' religious beliefs. And yet, as noted above, Moyers would deny his political opponents the same opportunity to put their faith into practice and to make "politics ... a means to a moral end". He has made it his personal crusade to expose those among his political opponents who are people of faith and who take their religion with them into the public square as a bunch of fundamentalist zealots bent on theocracy. And he has done so, time and again, using harsh rhetoric to describe such people.

    So, no, Moyers is no different than O'Reilly or Limbaugh or Beck or Atwater or Rove when it comes to the game of harsh and divisive political rhetoric. He just purveys his progagandistic, sloganistic, stridently ideological wares in a more high-brow setting and pushing a left-of-center policy agenda of which left wingers like NCR's Thomas Fox and The LA Times' Neal Gabler approve.

    By the way, check out the last blurb at the bottom of that Gabler piece:
    Gabler is at work on a biography of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
    Oh, wonderful. So, I suppose we can expect the same kind of lionizing of the so-called "Lion of the Senate" from Gabler as Moyers receives, ignoring Kennedy's own contribution to the coarsening of political discourse - such as his calumnious diatribe against "Robert Bork's America", while excoriating Kennedy's political opponents as "mean-spirited and hate-filled bigots". I can hardly wait.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    As If We Didn't Already Know: Media Cohorts Expose Bill Moyers as Propagandist Hack

    "One of the Last Sane Conservatives"

    "Reporting's Easier When You Don’t Worry About Facts"

    Bill Moyers: "Rove Turned Religion Into a Weapon of Political Combat"

    Feddie, on Behalf of Jimmy Akin, Tells Bill Moyers and His Lawyers to Go Pound Sand

    Bill Moyers - Still An Idiot After All These Years

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    At 12/15/2009 1:09 PM, Blogger DP said...

    Let's see: a pretentious, Pharisaical, slandering scold with a God complex.

    Well, *no wonder* lefties love him...

    At 12/15/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Paul Zummo said...

    I'm not entirely clear on this, but are you not a fan then of Bill Moyers?

    At 12/15/2009 4:07 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

    A big fan of BM going way back.

    At 12/15/2009 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bill Moyers is the type of unctious, sanctimonious hypocrite who gives unctious sanctimonious hypocrites a bad name.

    At 12/16/2009 9:05 AM, Blogger Gail F said...

    "Television's only moralist"??? Television is FULL of moralists! Every other two-bit station, it seems, has their own anchor/"commentary" fellow with an "opinion on the news." Not to mention all the cable personalities.

    I think NCR is counting him as the "only" moralist because he is the only one that agrees with its editorial board.

    At 12/16/2009 9:07 AM, Blogger Gail F said...

    Oops, that's the LA Times. I wonder why I thought it was the NCR? Ha ha.


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