Sep
30
2014

PBS Uses Advertising to Retaliate Against Critical Coverage

PBS Self Destructs

PBS was set up in part because of an understanding that advertising exerts pressure on media outlets. And now it's using its own advertising to signal its disapproval of critical coverage.

Mar
19
2012

Is PBS Trying to Hide Some of Public TV's Best Work?

In the New York Times (3/19/12), Elizabeth Jensen reports on some unusual scheduling decisions at PBS that are diminishing the audience for some of the best stuff you're likely to see on public television–the acclaimed documentary series Independent Lens and POV: After being bumped from Tuesday nights to a hodgepodge of time slots, Independent Lens has lost 39 percent of its average audience for new episodes this season, compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ITVS, which produces the series. Jensen's report–which expanded on news first reported by the public broadcasting newspaper Current–noted that many prominent […]

Jan
09
2012

If PBS Is Afraid of Moyers, Maybe It Needs a New Slogan

Elizabeth Jensen has a preview (New York Times, 1/8/12) of the new Bill Moyers program coming to public television stations later this month–a show that is not being distributed by PBS. Why not? She reports: Mr. Moyers said he was unsure why PBS, where he has spent most of his career since 1971, declined the show for its main schedule. Some public television executives, who would not publicly comment on a sensitive issue, said they believed that PBS did not want to realign itself with Mr. Moyers, a longtime target of some conservatives, as it was fighting to keep its […]

Jun
08
2011

Democracy Now!: Moyers on the Media

Bill Moyers appeared on Democracy Now! this morning (6/8/11) to discuss his new book about his days at PBS, The Conversation Continues. Interviewed for the hour by anchors Any Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Moyers said, "The consensual seduction of the mainstream media by and with the government is one of the most dangerous toxins at work in America today." He spoke, too, of the lost mission of public broadcasting,and how its reliance on the political whims of Congress for some of its funding prevents it from living up to its potential: Sometimes self-censorship occurs because you're looking over your shoulder, […]

Jun
03
2011

Bill Moyers' Worst Hour Is Charlie Rose's Typical Show

On the Daily Show on June 1, Bill Moyers talked about the types of outsider guests he preferred to interview on his TV show. As he put it at one point: "The worst hour that I ever put on, was many years ago, with Henry Kissinger…. I vowed after that never to do an hour with any official. None." Interviewing guests who challenge or question the conventional wisdom or the status quo is exactly what we should be seeing on public television. Two nights before the Moyers interview (5/30/11), Charlie Rose offered a reminder that we've got a long way […]

May
17
2011

Bill Moyers and Tavis Smiley on Public TV's Elite Bias

Bill Moyers on the Tavis Smiley Show (5/13/11), talking about the elite bias in the media: Television, including public television, rarely gives a venue to people who have refused to buy into the ruling ideology of Washington. The ruling ideology of Washington is we have two parties, they do their job, they do their job pretty well. The differences between them limit the terms of the debate. But we know that real change comes from outside the consensus. Real change comes from people making history, challenging history, dissenting, protesting, agitating, organizing. Those voices that challenge the ruling ideology–two parties, the […]

Dec
06
2010

Bill O'Reilly Defends Press Freedom–While Musing About Jailing Bill Moyers

Fox host Bill O'Reilly warned viewers on December 3 about "a disturbing development at the FCC": Commissioner Michael Copps has been criticizing the failure of the media to provide citizens with substantive political information and discussion. O'Reilly zeroed inon thesecomments Copps made in a BBC interview (12/1/10): I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct a civic dialogue. We are not producing as much news as we did five years, 10 years, 15 years ago. We have to reverse that […]

Aug
06
2010

'Need to Know' Doesn't Know Why It's No Replacement for Moyers

Trying to explain why Need to Know, the PBS public affairs show that appeared in the Friday night timeslot vacated by Bill Moyers Journal and Now, has gotten such a cool reception from viewers, co-host Allison Stewart seems to blame nostalgia. "Obviously you can't replace Bill Moyers," says Stewart (Show Tracker, 8/5/10). "That's just a ridiculous notion." The funny thing is, Bill Moyers was replaced: When he left Now to resume doing Bill Moyers Journal, David Brancaccio took over as host, later joined by Maria Hinojosa. Under their tenure, Now retained its loyal following, because Brancaccio and Hinojosa were pursuing […]

Jul
14
2009

Media Check Insurance Co. Abuse… Occasionally

Longtime health insurance company bigwig and former holder of "the ultimate PR job," Wendell Potter recently told PBS' Bill Moyers (Bill Moyers Journal, 7/10/09) how he had been "involved in the campaign by the industry to discredit Michael Moore and his film Sicko," and now sees that "the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used… back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan" for national healthcare reform. Potter told Moyers that he "knew that 47 million people were uninsured, but I didn't put faces with that number" until he "picked […]

May
30
2009

The Results of 'Smothering Torture in Euphemism'

In a Smirking Chimp piece (5/29/09) averring that "Everyone Should See Torturing Democracy"–the delayed documentary that "recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy" and "also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power"–PBS' Bill Moyers spells out the larger consequences of the fact that "in all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all": Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism of course has a political […]

Jan
24
2009

25 Most Influential (or Not) Liberals (or Not)

Leave it to Forbes to get someone from the Hoover Institution to do an "in-depth" feature on "The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media" (1/22/09). The results are about as bogus as you might imagine, including a number of people who are not only not liberals, but who are actively loathed by the actual left end of the media spectrum–and the feeling is generally mutual: folks like Fred Hiatt, Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, Christopher Hitchens (did their Nation sub lapse in 1998?), Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews and Andrew Sullivan. Then there are some corporate journalists whose "liberalism" seems […]