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Bill Moyers' speech at the National Media Reform Conference

On June 7, 2008, Bill Moyers addressed the National Media Reform Conference in Minneapolis, MN. These are his prepared remarks. (Note: hyperlink is a .pdf)

You can find out more about the conference and watch videos - including Bill's speech - at FreePress' NMRC homepage.


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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Ross Douthat is obviously one of the Bible Beating Religious Right who wants a theocratic government that will legislate religion into everybody’s life. He suggests that America is far superior to Europe because our government injects religion into all aspects of our lives.

Thomas Jefferson, and many more of our founding fathers, who constructed this republic, fought these same people to stop a movement toward a national religion by building a virtual wall of separation that would give each citizen the right to practice what ever belief they chose. It's also interesting to note that the people of Europe lost their taste for religious autocracies after 500 plus years of religious oppression and crusades that killed millions. They took the first step to end this practice with the Treaty of Westphalia (October 24, 1648). The extreme forces of religion have been pushing to destroy a secular belief system ever since and they found America to be easy pickens with a naive population who could be easily indoctrinated due to the fact that they had little or no knowledge of Europe's dark past with what can be called faith based tyranny.

Your work is invaluable! Thank you.

What I wish you would have pointed out on the show on Conservatives is that “neoconservatives” are instead radical with a non-conservative agenda (Perhaps it was subtly there and I missed it). Leo Strauss, the founder of the neoconservative movement, was a Platonist who believed in a rule by the vanguard, using illusions of threats to unite a society against an enemy.
Al Qaeda is that exaggerated threat (certainly compared to Hitler). The neoconservative nexus with the conservative AND corporate liberal establishment (Obama being a member of the ladder) is the enrichment of the military industrial complex and maintenance of U.S. Empire.

I know you are walking a tightrope there at PBS. I understand if you, NOW and Keith Olbermann can’t take on the Israel/Palestinian question directly, as Amy Goodman ( does.

Is it time to bring Noam Chomsky back for an interview?

Keep up the great work.

John Elfrank-Dana
Nyack, NY

I've been a teacher for a long time. My file of writings by people who believe what Bill Moyers has come to believe, and who can think and write well, is a good deal longer lately thanks to the internet. So is my cache of documentary film. The New York Times still prints most of the important news, though they sat on warrantless wiretaps until after the 2004 election and are now ignoring impeachment resolutions. As for broadcast news I only watch it now to monitor what the ruling class wants to teach my students so that I can get in its way. I concede that the rulers have the production budget, but I believe I can offer the truth. Back in 1983 I even published a book on the rise and fall of republics in history (The End of Kings). I can hope that my wolf wins, but I'm getting on and must not hope to live to see it.

Boy, Bill, you sure put that Faux Spews hit man who tried to roust you in his place!

The question is: Why would any decent American allow themselves to be used by known thugs?

Proud to be from Texas.

Oh...Mr. Moyers...BRAVO!, BRAVO! on your speech at the NCMR...Just exceptional...of course we've come to expect nothing less...Must be a bit scary, being held to such high expectations!...Wouldn't it be wonderful if it was contagious...eventually spreading to the 'folks that take the oaths'...???

I did have to play one portion of your speech over a few times...I thought you had everyone in your audience 'poke' the person next to them, in the eye...then shake their hand...initially thinking it was somehow 'a comment about the treatment that we've been receiving for the past 7 (& 3/4!) years'...hehe...

I happened to catch Mildred Gaddis (along with two idiots)on CNN's Lou Dobbs' show tonight...CNN's headline today was 'Car bomb kills 51 in Iraq'...yet the idiots make the statement "We are 'now' winning in Iraq"...proving the pundits don't bother even browsing the headlines...Now I'm being subjected to the spins put on bush's 'reasoning' behind increased oil drilling...It's 'nearly' impossible to get the real story as it is...I've tried to refrain from 'going Postal' regarding the current state of affairs, constraining myself to entering my thoughts about the subject on blogs (mainly) that welcome it...BUT, with the 'price at the pump' continuing to rise; I just feel compelled to say out loud 'What a crappy president we have' (have had...for 2! 'agonizing' terms)...and although a great deal of responsibility for 'the state of the state' lies right at the feet of the greedy bastards, had soo many stupid, short-sighted, ignorant %#*!-for-brains-idiots had not cast a vote for the pigs, they simply would not have the power they have, (at the helm of the planet, no less)...So in those terms...or rather 'when viewed in that perspective''s the fault of 'a lot of people'...And I do mean 'a lot'...I can't envision what even 'one million' of something (anything...even ants) really is...I know its quite a few...and talking about 'tens or hundreds of millions', then you are talking about the number of people who were (for whatever reason), at a loss of their senses...enough to actually vote for what will undoubtedly go down in history as the worst presidency...EVER...if anyone bothered to take a look at just the gross conflict of interests BEFORE they voted, there would be 'no way' any (even half-assed) American could in 'good conscience' have placed a vote for the weasels...However, there also lies some responsibility with 'the media'...We the People rely on 'the media' to bring us 'the truth'...However, that venue has become smaller and the pont where you can't believe anything you hear, see or read anywhere...EXCEPT 'HERE' OF COURSE...THANK YOU MR. MOYERS...THANK YOU...

Watching C-Span can be and often is a liberating experience. I recall watching C-Span on the Memorial Day weekend in 1992 when the network broadcast raw footage of a trip some of their staff had made to Vietnam. I watched in utter fascination for three days and experienced a vast range of experiences,

These days I enjoy watching on C-Span when I can authors speak about their books at bookstores and in other settings. A wonderful service!

The people who call the discussion shows on C-Span are worse than most people I encounter in my ordinary social life. They seem motivated to defend the indefensible and to use any argument to support positions that they affirmed before they ever looked at evidence or at how the world actually is.

There seems to be kind of mythology that defines the world in terms of those who defend economic inequality simply as a fact of life and of ordinary market forces--forces that are outside any moral consideration.

The number of times I hear attacks on simple regulation of the most basic rules for industry, finance, and other aspects of society and attacks on such fundamental norms as minimum wage or the right to organize labor amazes me. And I hear these arguments in what were once the institutions that supported human rights--churches and universities. These people drown out everyone else.

I have seen this coming for years. I wrote Congressman Kolbe a letter of concern in 2001 about the trade deficit and the dwindling jobs. I said we are heading for a depression and you politicians know it. He replied with a two page letter telling how good I should feel about improving human rights in China, now mind you I do care about human rights in China but I care more about my children's future here. The very wealthy have stolen that from my kids. I am so mad you have no idea. We need to throw the tea back in the harbor.

RE: Barbara Wickwire.

I do not scribe to cable television and thus do not have much exposure to C-Span, but, when I sit for my friends' dogs, I do watch C-Span.

Like Ms. Wickwire, I avoid the call-in programs. The people who call-in are worst than the political fanatics who dominate discussions in the classes and groups in my church.

I switch off C-Span when those shows are broadcast just as I walk out of my church when members pledge the flag during worship or someone wails about the evil of minimum wages or labor unions.

Too many of he centers for grasping a sense of what justice is are assailed by goons.

Gosh, that is a fine speech. I wish I had made it and, come to think of it, I will be quoting from it. Again, you are on target.

I would like to commend Bill Moyer for his skill in countering Bill O'Reilly
and his motely crew.
It is my opinion that it is Bill O'Reilly who is a spokssman for the lunatic right.
There is a serious problem with the present definition of terms and information that is inconsistent with reality. It is an obvious fact that our country has been deceived by lies and fear mungering. The results have been devastating in terms of lose of human life, the advent of moral couruption, the undermining of economic stability and lose of personal freedom. The corruption of the media is the coupe de grace.
If we are to salvage what is left of our Humanistic Democracy; we are going to have to face the truth of reality as it is and work together to make things right. Hopefully, we will elect a statesman instead of a politician for president, clarify the meaning of words and return to a system of justice and equity.
We need to start by defining "Patriot as a citizen who defends liberty, justice and the welfare of this nation and its people. We need to start by defining "Patriot" as a citizen who defends liberty,justice and the welfare of this nation and all of its people not those who defend corruption, incompetence
and greed.

Great speech, as usual, and much needed call to arms.

Your plea for better funded public broadcasting made me wonder how you see the C-Span influence. It's a big platform and I often wonder what the result of it is, who makes the decisions, etc. I see far too much ideology spouted with no critical overlay or review. Much the same as our MSM anchors who accept the answers of men like McCain or surrogates with no check on reality, no calling of outright lies and misrepresentation.

I try not to listen to C-Span's call-in comment shows which make me despair of an informed intelligent electorate!

Keep holding their feet to the fire and I will try to do my part!

You have great courage, Bill, and with your tenacity and integrity all of us are inspired to do our best and do what is right. It all counts. And you are a key figure shining the way through this mess. You are our wiseman and our shephard. Thank you Bill and keep up the good work. I have hope for America and the world because of you.

Your speeches always are great, Bill, but this one really made me stop what I was doing and take notice. It's interesting that the NRMC webpage has Bill O'Reilly's speech playing, but yours, Dan Rather's and Amy Goodman's are "no longer available." What does that say? Keep up the great work!

Thank you for another erudite, inspirational and thoroughly charming presentation, Mr. Moyers.

Reading your speeches in recent years has taught me a great deal -- not so much about the lamentable state of our media (since I've witnessed that decline as a writer and editor), but about economic issues. We arts-and-humanities sorts are often slow to grasp the numbers side of things. More than any other one source, you woke me up to how the ultra-rich have deliberately ruined the rest of us. I'm now doing my utmost to learn more and wake others.

Based on the force of your splendid speech texts, I sometimes get impatient with the show -- wanting you to haul off and sock 'em like Olbermann does, instead of letting your guests have all the good lines. Still, that's the difference between conducting an interview and giving a speech, isn't it?

Bill, I attended your speech to the 2004 convention of the SPJ (the one that Dan Rather's producers got called out of on account of that Bush Air National Guard story on 60 Minutes). You had some very strong words that day ("the delusional is no longer marginal" sticks in my head), especially about the "war on journalism" and the extent to which there existed a concerted campaign to destroy the credibility of traditional news reporting and leave us at the mercy of the Murdochs and Roves of the world.

It seemed alarmist and exaggerated to some at the time, but since then I have often thought back on that speech and how prescient it was -- what with State Department officials rounding up staffers to pretend to be reporters at a "news conference" and the like.

In Brazil, where I now live (my wife is Brazilian), the phenomenon you pointed out are even more pronounced. The Brazilian news media on the warpath does not fall that short of Hutu radio during the Rwanda genocide in terms of disinformation and rumor-mongering. I often tell American friends that if you want to really see the effects of concentrated media ownership, dug in deep, learn Portuguese and follow the newsflow from the infamous Six Families of the Brazilian media for a while. Ye gods. The big, but largely unspoken, problem here seems to be jabaculê (bribery for coverage). I sometimes feel I have been transported back in time to New York in the 1880s ...

Likewise, I often point Brazilian friends to that speech, and have even had a stab at putting it into Portuguese. If what we need to know is that we are in trouble, well, the Brazilians probably know this a lot better than we do. But the perseverance of Brazilian media activists in the face of the situation here is admirable, so I try to do my little bit for intercontinental ballistics news diplomacy. You should come down here, in fact. They are trying to get a PBS-like public broadcaster going without having it turn into what Bush tried to turn PBS into. (You should do a historical documentary someday on the Bush BBG.)

Anyhow, Bill, even when you are as corny as Kansas in August (Arlo Guthrie?), you're still an inspiration to us all.


You and Amy Goodman are the best journalists in the country, there is no one else in the team photo. I love what you did to Bill Oreily's lackey. How can so many be so wrong for so long and people are still not aware of it.

Bill, your work has been a breath of fresh air in a painfully dark/stale room.

This speech was liberating and invigorating. Thank you so much for fighting for America, the truth and the future.

There is no question that you have heard and vigilantly answered the call of Lady Liberty.

Great speech Bill, every year you out perform the previous year.

Also liked professor Lawrence Lessig presentation, a creative delivery and thought provoking content. I never thought about the core problem being dependency. We can't fix any of our problems until this is resolved !

Liked your responses to the "O'Reilly Factors" producer. It was interesting to say the least, and showed your control of self. You are indeed a pastor.

Consider putting on Rick Shenkman, us Americans need think more than feel the truth.

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