Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« Poetry and Prejudice | Main | Remembering Sekou Sundiata »

Poll: The Yes Men

Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Who and what are "Yes" men? Is that an inside joke?

One can only recognize the true character of injustice when one has knowingly and willingly invested oneself in the words of those who have gained one's trust.

The Yes Men have raised awareness of socio-economic injustices by exploiting a fundamental flaw in our nature.

Their victims have a little egg on their faces, and they are all the better for it.


welcome back bill!this was great,and these two are bringing attention to the corporate greed that goes on in the u.s.

My only hesitance in defending them 100% is the misrepresentation that they are employers/executives of "specific corporations". If they were to make up a "fake" corporation and be asked to comment as representatives of that company, then I'd feel better about the deception. Saying you are from a particular business and then saying/doing things that may reflect badly on that business is problematic. But the satire itself is defensible in the same way a "parody singer" can use the original artists' music with different words. The parody should be SO obvious that no one would be foolish enough to think they are actually from the company they claim to represent.

If someone is too stupid to tell the difference, it's not the fault of the artist, legally exonerating them.

Moyers = rocks
The Yes Men = rocks
Moyers + The Yes Men = Rocks your socks off!

HAH. This was an awesome combination.

Confirms for all of us what has been there all along, there are people out here who are cold, lack emotional depth and too often are in charge.

We all should have listened to Ralph Nader's warnings about Corporate America.

The YES MEN do the freedom of the nation a service by exposing how corporations' actions undermine the common good. That's what the interview is about. It's not about jihadists or the same manichean Cold War thinking that was outmoded generations ago. It's even less about taking such worn out paradigms and applying them wholesale to our current geopolitical situation. So I repeat, uga6, what ought to be obvious to all, no jihadist can destroy our American freedom, only Americans can do that. We need to remember that those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither, as Benjamin Franklin noted long ago when the nation was being born. We nurture our freedom by using it to pursue the truth, to express ourselves politically or artistically, and in innumerable other ways. The YES MEN do us all an ethical service when they expose the frightening lapses of conscience that pass for business as usual. In a political culture where, as they point out, "you can speak at the volume of however much money you have," they give voice to those of us who are effectively silenced by the status quo. When will our conservative sisters and brothers realize that they are being swindled of their well-being by big corporations in health care, news, agribusiness, and energy just as progressives are?

Click here (& scroll down) to read: "Hoax and Hope: More on Satire and Activism," an article I did the week Andy and Mike staged the Vivoleum expo. Bill and I were both in Memphis for the NCMR, but The Yes Men cancelled--Thanks for propping up the media reform movement.
Now how about 9/11 truth on PBS, Bill? Interview David Ray Griffin and Steven Jones!!!

Reply to Lesley:
I have not said PBS /Moyers should not exist or shut down. For freedom to exist the programs have a right to exist...however they are rather one-sided sometimes yet charge taxpayers to pay the bills (in addition to endowments etc.)without presenting the conservative viewpoint. The Jihadists hate you and they hate me. They offer no such freedom of speech. They would end PBS, Rush, Anderson Cooper, Oprah, Dr. Phil and Rosie, too! They see no distinction. It is absolutely amazing to me how liberals and moderates cannot admit that the Jihadists hate them, too.
When democrat presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson defended the nation against nazism, facism, and communism, they defended all Americans against our common enemy. Where is similar strong clearcut leadership today from the democrats, the left, liberals, moderates and lately, where is it even from many republicans?
America has a common enemy who has been self-decreed, not so designated by the Clinton or Bush administrations. Well, anyway, one more time for the record, true conservatives believe in the free market of ideas including viewpoints we do not agree with, so no Moyers-banning here, just a question as to why our viewpoint is ridiculed, belittled, squelched and too often personally attacked as I was a few days ago by someone I chose not to respond to. I have noticed that a lot of bloggers here project their sterotypes and prejudices on those with whom they disagree. Several times there have been assumptions made that are not correct but are very revealing about the ones who mis-assumes. The easiest tactic
in debate is to to argue against the person (or invented straw man) while avoiding dealing with the idea.

I loved watching the Yes Men. The fact that they are white males made their schtick oh so credible to audiences who look like them. Does anyone doubt that their access into those halls of power was largely attributed to their race? Only white males could have "sold" those pieces about the survival bubble and the candles of human flesh to those audiences and made them sound so credible for so long. It was amusing to watch the sober faces of their audiences pondering the rationale that was presented to them. Let's face it, folks! Well-dressed and well-spoken men of color with the same "line" could not have gotten in the front door. Having said that, I think the Yes Mens' performances were provocative. They've provided us with important insights into how some of the hallowed business establishments of this country work. The gullibility of the masses was laid bare.

The Yes Men of the CIA, the Yes Members of congress, the Yes members of the media and the country bought and swallowed the reasons for war. The Yes Men are not as bold as all that. The Daily Show is a better source for news then the paid media. Thanks for PBS. Now how do we get more people to tune in and watch PBS.

Renowned futurian Barbara Marx Hubbard has observed that it could be highly instructive to imagine a *comedy show* which commented upon world affairs from a *cosmic* (alien?) perspective ~ i.e., 'Look what those humans are up to now!' The YES MEN may be as close as anyone has yet come to achieving such concerned objectivity. Tim Leary would have approved :-} Thang Q!

The YES MEN do us all a favor and they're funnier than Michael Moore to boot. And please, let's just all be clear about this: no jihadists can destroy American freedom, only Americans can do that. Though terrorists may damage buildings and shake confidence, they cannot win and cannot impose on us something we refuse to embrace. When the YES MEN use their theatrics to bring corporate malfeasance into the open, they are defending our freedom. It's as simple as that. In a world where a student holding an ironic sign of protest in Alaska has his free speech rights quashed because of some bizarre connection to the need to promote the war against drugs, while all of corporate America's money counts as speech, at least according to the Roberts Supreme Court, then clearly democracy is in some deep, deep trouble. Speak up, fight back!

The YES approach is not new but your show helps get the message across that often real science is ignored for fake or for the dollar someone can make - e.g. investment in such counter scientific law items as perpetual motion machines. This allows politicians to manipulate science for their own good. Educational failures[general science is as important as math]and the lack of respect for science by the general population creates this mess and allows the YES Men success.
For over 2 years, I tried to get published tongue-in-cheek paper about global warming called the "Personal global climate control -the couch potato solution" [finally published in an abbreviated form in Chemistry in Britian in 1991, vol. 27, no6, pp. 509-511]. The article was rejected by many popular magazines and newspaper including NYTimes as "rubbish" but accepted by a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

From Wikipedia:
"The first Great Famine of 1739 was the result of extreme cold weather but the famine of 1846 to 1849 (see Great Irish Famine) was caused by potato blight"

By the time Swift had published the book Ireland had already experienced famine under British Rule

The Yes Men reminded me of a similar Dada-ist event from a few years ago. The website ( is now stripped of any hints to the satire and is eerily convincing. The conceptual artist "developed" a sniper rifle that fired GPS tracking rounds into political dissidents. He went so far as to deliver his pitch at a Chinese police convention. Interesting satire... or is it?

Bill Moyers and Keith Olbermann are the only trustworhty news people in television. Praise them and bless them both.

JBR, Florida

"I'm pretty sure that Mom and Pop are marking up the price of a soda pop- does that make them evil too?"

Maybe the real evil is that there are so few Moms and Pops making that kind of decision. Mega Corporations have so much money that they are as out of touch with reality as was Guiliani who didn't know -when asked- how much a gallon of milk costs.

Bill Moyer's Journal my new favorite program. Open our eyes, minds and hearts to the truth We Are One--we are all connected. We are much more the same than we are different. We are not separate. We are not and can never be. If a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and we humans are a chain, we have a long way to go. The smartest among us need to recognize this and go from there. We need do redefine or place emphasis on the 'for the good of all' meanings of freedom. profit, responsibility, and many other words whose meanings have become so distorted. We are coming to , or are already at, a major crossroads in our ever global civilization. Technology is helping to put all our contradictions, ambiguity, greed, selfishness, foolish laws, all the things we're doing wrong, right in our faces. Are we going to wake up and change for the better, finally able to learn from our history? Can we choose to have the courage to go in a new and better direction, perhaps recognizing how much the use of money as a means of exchange is now to harmful and limiting for us all? All our systems are breaking or broken at the state and federal level. They are now doing more harm than good to those they are supposed to help. Bill, you will not run out of topics to address any time soon. Thank you so much for all you do and thank you PBS.

"a human-like conscientiousness to otherwise bright minds which have been hijacked by unscrupulous ideals promulgated by corporations which only concern themselves with profiteering,"

This has been the way of the world since Day One! It's naive to think that all corporate workers need is a good poke in the ribs to redeem themselves. History is full of "otherwise bright minds" who did horrible things for the safety and stability of their clan/ state/ country/ church, etc. Whether it was evil then depends on whose side you were on, and that's true today.

I'm just tired of the liberal obsession with corporate "evil". I'm pretty sure that Mom and Pop are marking up the price of a soda pop- does that make them evil too? No amount of satire or protest is going to make a corporation less "evil". Making evil practices less profitable is the only way to go.

I don't see how a practical joke can be unethical, especially when the Yes Men are being solicited and not the other way around.
And, IF the Yes Men can return a human-like conscientiousness to otherwise bright minds which have been hijacked by unscrupulous ideals promulgated by corporations which only concern themselves with profiteering, then why not take that chance?

Do I think the Yes Men were entertaining? Yes. Are there actions ethical? No. Their main victims were probably the corporate PR people who lost their jobs. I can't see what they accomplished that will really make anyone think about the issues at heart. Their actions only contribute to the divisiveness pervading the country's political climate. Taking advantage of the social assumptions we are often forced to make in a diverse society does not make any country more progressive or peaceful. It makes us all look like fools.

Thank you for the much-needed levity! The genius of the Yes Men is uncanny. In this climate in which the public is inured to the treachery that's taking place, satire is an effective way to cut through the resistance. I'm soooo glad you're back, Mr. Moyers.

I laughed out loud. Absolutely fabulous... and scary as hell! The guy hit the nail on the head when he said people didn't get it because it resonated with "the logic in that room." They have simply taken unbridled capitalism to its logical conclusion - we will eventually consume ourselves, and believe we are doing the work of the great god of capitalism in the process. BRAVO Yes men BRAVO!!

Great Story! I immensely enjoy satire and KNOW it can be a great educational tool. Thanks for the introduction to the Yes Men -- In the great yippie culture jamming tradition of Abbie Hoffman's "steal this book" and most recently:

Thanks also for "the journal" on podcast

Sue, dear, do unto corporations as they've been doing to us (for a long, long time now, is EXACTLY what The Yes Men were doing...think about it.

On a lighter note - - -
King GW is undergoing colonoscopy today; last time in 2002, polyps were found instead of WMDs. A lot of shit (excuse the pun!) has passed by in these last five years, both through his colon and through our land. Hopefully this time, the proctologist will find some part of his brain down there - - -

I loved the Yes Men and see their style as an inventive means of protest. As seen in the broad array of Mr. Moyers' guests, social justice finds its champions through many kinds of different people doing different things--a serious journalist, an artist, a labor leader, or even the person who speaks up for their beliefs in an everyday situation. In the case of the Yes Men, the fictional extremes they create are just the logical conclusion of many of the dangerous practices we have become acclimated to and accepted.

I think it a testimony to the extreme nature of our times that many of the people they spoke to could not discern it was a joke. How much has the continuum of normal and ethical been adjusted to the point where ideas meant as farce are taken as real? And seen as wonderful? The nodding and applause at the corporate conventions reveals the groupthink of those seduced by the corporate mystique. I have noticed general cultural trends where people treat any directive/idea from a company as brilliant, even if it is divorced from reason and will hurt the average person. Thomas Frank's "One Market Under God" has discussed this topic and one of its foremost themes is that corporate rhetoric is viewed not only as an unquestioned authority, but also as something due reverence. This becomes completely evident when these companies' members show transfixed enthusiasm over concepts that are clearly impossible.

Like fighting fire with fire, in absurd times we need to traffic in absurdity. As with Jon Stewart's The Daily Show or popular comedians who lampoon the politically corrupt, some of the most successful criticism comes through humor. Companies accuse the Yes Men of being frauds, which is ironic given that these companies have entire PR teams and executive leadership whose full-time work is spent conning consumers and lobbying for untruths. Dishonesty is at the heart of their operations; honesty is at the heart of the Yes Men's.

To uqa6 and all other such thinkers- odd that you would define yourself as being in opposition to "jihadists" and "facists" who want uniformity, whom you say will threaten the liberty of programs such as this to exist. And yet you want such programs, evidence of our democracy, to shut the hell up and think just like you. Churchill and Roosevelt would *not* approve. They would be appalled that they did all that work for nothing.

As for the Yes Men, keep it going guys, for as long as you can!

At first I was shocked at the information in the segment on the number of latino's fighting in Iraq and getting their citizenship by doing so. Then I began looking back over the years to recall the Civil and other wars. Immigrants have always been encouraged to join in the current war. We have many men and women joining the military for all different reasons. What is so wrong with the current immigrants benefitting from serving?
I don't think it says much for our country to see so many young people joining the war because they feel it's a way out of a not so bright future.
You, Bill Moyers, and PBS are always on our family's thankful list. Your programs, whether we agree with every guest or not, always leave us feeling we live in a free country(so far). Thank you for working so hard for our information freedom.

My point stands: the freedom that you enjoy needs to be defended aganist the Jihadists or
the day will come when
you will no longer enjoy that freedom. Your
personal evaluation of
me irrelevant.
If my viewpoint is of no value then I am segregated
with Roosevelt and Churchill who were able to see and name the threats of
their day and were willing to stand against facism and
nazism. If they wre alive today they would do the same against Jihadism that
threatens the freedom of the west ever bit as much as
the threats of their day.

If the comments are not
acceptable they will be edited out...but they keep
being allowed...that's because freedom allows
dissent from the party line of PBS.

i responded to molly's cry for you to run for president. when you responded personally to decline the request i was impressed even more than before. i am a large man and have been around the block. i recognize a real man. thankyou for what you do. the overused word patriot is not adequate. i would say you are one of my personal heroes.

Some commentators here need to do some research of their own. Invisible Theatre is an art form... and The Yes Men are artists... dealing with the cons... they are not Con Artists, since their true goal is to make us aware -- in an era when the ownership of "Mainstream Media" is controlled by less than 12 people -- of issues that won't otherwise get publicized.

It's the antidote for Public Relations experts!

Thanks to the Journal for making me aware!

uga6 ( or better said dear troll )

If you do not have anything meaningful and relevant to the program please avoid coming here with your kind of fundamentalist slogen. I hope one day you grow up and treat the whole world the same way you want to be treated.

during his comment on Johnathan Switf's "modest proposal" Mike Bonanno claimed that Swift (who died in 1745) was commenting on the Irish Potatoe famine which began in 1846. Is all his information that well researched?

it falls under the catagory of "would't that be funny if it wasn't so sad" thank god for men like this that bring attention to serious issues with a sence of humor-screw em if they can't take a joke

The Yes Men aren't funny. Neither are they morally superior to those corporations they chose to lampoon. Rather, they willingly descend to their level (if they weren't already there) and use the same devices these corporations supposedly use to manipulate us. Maybe the Yes Men saw their deceit as striking out against some faceless business entity. What I saw were people just like you and I who politely listened and tried to give these "ideas" a fair shot. The "ideas" they presented were absurd by intent. What I think about were all the ideas in the past that were considered "absurd". Like all men (and women) are created equal, religious tolerance, and equal justice for all. These formerly "absurd" ideas are accepted now not only because brave souls fought for them. These principles are also accepted because people were willing to polietly listen to an "absurd" idea. In the noise of all the "absurd" ideas being voiced is a treasure of enlightenment if only people would politely listen, patiently consider, and wisely select. Yes Men type antics force good people like you and I with terrible choices. Shut down the "absurd" fast or be made to look the fool. Have the Yes Men given any thought to how they would feel if they were subjected to such horrible treatment? To the Yes Men I give you this once "absurd" thought; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Thanks to The Yes Men for leading with "the solution to reduce management costs is to consolidate stations, cooperate on 'back-room operations' such as bookkeeping." Annual meeting reports from team members were sprinkled with phrases like "our regionalisation plans are coming to fruition..." which will occur every year at grant application time... I applaud the apple barrel analogy! The group-think can be so intoxicating (like the brandy barrel) that it is easy to forget the larger and more diverse-thinking audience. Thanks so much, from a long-time public radio volunteer.

The "Yes Men" is another torn in the side of big business. We need more like them on the attact in any form that'll get everyones attention-someday, I do believe.

Changing the world isn’t all blood, sweat and tears. People who are smart and courageous enough to play court jester in these perilous times deserve our applause. Thank you for putting The Yes Men on your stage Mr. Moyers.

I wish I could afford it, but a copy of the Yes Men segment should be sent the BoD's of the Fortune 500.

None of the PBS programs will be allowed to air if
America does not defend its way of life against the
Jihadists. Following the
weak appeasement policies of Move On and leftists
in the Democrat majority,
we are empowering those who
will allow no PBS, no Moyers, no freedom, only the promotion of oppressive Islamic law. Come on libs, wake are as much of a target as any of us conservatives. Let's start being Americans instead of gophers for two political parties whose only goal is self-perpetuation. That's
what the modern parties are about in 2007.

Before we annihilated the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, their cultures celebrated the community clown who would mock behaviors, upsets, and politics within the tribe. There was no need for written laws or defined boundaries, because the clown always made people see themselves and their own ridiculous behaviors in action. The 'Yes Men' are a necessary contribution to our often outrageous political actions and cultural choices. Bring on the clowns!

Do I think the Yes Men's tactics are ethical? Well when I consider what Corporate America does that is so unethical and disastrous to this nation, yes I think anything that can expose these people is ethical. If not them, then who. For the person who thinks PBS sucks, there alwasy Fox for you. Afterall it sounds like you are not the kind of person who appreciates honest straightforward reporting. So go where the information is more to your liking, inaccurate and in most case, totally dishonest. Good luck in knowing anything about what is really going on in the world. Maybe when they find Natalie Holloway or her killer, that will satisfy you news consumption.

I love the Yes Men! though I'm not certain if I think their tactics ethical, and I'm not certain that their victims would be pursuaded after having been made such fools of. Incidentally, as another viewer has already noted, Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was published in 1729; the Irish potato famine began in 1845 and lasted until 1849.

Thank You Bill for turning us onto the "Yes Men!" They could really get us thinking FOR OURSELVES about what's really going down. These "Yes Men" are a refreshing contrast to the current yes men in government who are just helping to drive the country into a ditch. I like what these fellows are up to and I hope they do more to mix it up! As long as we have Elvis, Cher and Brittany impersonators - the Yes Men should feel free to satirize the heck out of public companies practices!

PBS sucks and is a gross misuse of taxpayer's money.

Can I order a DVD of tonights show featuring The Yes Men? That was one of the funniest things I've seen for some time, and I need that in these times?

On the MARTÍN ESPADA segment.

I would really like to see a story that shows the total picture of mass immigration and illegal immigration. This problem has a negative side to it that is never addressed.

Illegal immigration is a complicated issue and to ONLY SHOW A SYMPATHETIC
light on illegal immigration is just bad journalism.

James Lane

Dear Mr. Moyers, enjoyed your interview of the Yes Men, but the rascals gotcha: Irish Famine was in Mid Nineteenth Century, Jonathan Swift 1687-1745, though all three of you might be terrible historians. If it was on purpose, forgive them. God Bless you and keep up the good work. We need people like you with GW in charge.

Standard or "normal" methods of debate and/or commentary, when not barred or omitted altogether, are trammeled, criticized, and ridiculed mercilessly by the machine in control of our government. Extreme times call for extreme measures. Bravo Yes Men. Bravo Mr. Moyers and his shared wisdom.

Man that lead in had me gasping you gotta be kidding for far too long??

Post a comment

THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

Your Comments


THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

Click to subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe with another reader

Get the vodcast (help)

For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ