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Need to Know, May 7, 2010


  • Elsie Kent

    Great! I hope you can continue to maintain this high quality.

  • F. Welsch

    In our family we simply cannot fathom how or why great programs like NOW, Bill Moyer’s Journal and Worldfocus could have been replaced by the banality of “Need to Know”? The first program was a simply appalling, an unmitigated disaster and a bore.

    At the very least you should have used Brancaccio, Savidge, Dhaliwal, etc. to anchor the “new” program. We cannot comprehend, what specifically is “new” or better about “Need to Know.” Alison Stewart and Jon Meacham are really lacking. Their interview skills are not on the level of those whom they have replaced. Additionally, the interview platform, with those wire chairs and no table is unpleasant.

    You should replace some of those dreadful, repetitive ad nauseam “Doo Wop” and superficial, intellectually vapid, hypocritical Dr. Dyer programs and bring back NOW as well as “Worldfocus.” No one can replace the skills of Moyers. We wish him all the best in retirement.

    We are dismayed to put it mildly!

    Keep this up and we shall reconsider decades of supporting pbs.

  • Brad Day

    Good Start, but the Fabrication Room is a weak, irrelevant link. You can do better than that with that time. I can think of many different relevant ways to have a recurring short end feature that is more serious.

  • Fabio

    Excellent show! I will watch the next episode for sure. Thanks!

  • ksjayhawk

    A show notably lacking in supporting facts of any kind and a transcript for those whose internet service makes watching on the website impossible. Your description of the show of “light without heat” turned out to be a show that touches lightly and briefly on the surface of several subjects without any in-depth looks and reminded us that without at least a little heat, there is no light.

    And that nutcase in the red polka dot tie who thinks a shootout in an airplane is a good idea? Enough said. I’m assuming dismantling the metal detectors at the courthouses and nullifying various organizations with “no guns allowed” signs would be their next goal.

    PBS, I suggest you bring back Brancaccio immediately and get on your knees and beg Moyers to unretire.

  • Harry Lime

    Horrible, horrible, horrible. A dumbed down mess that I would expect to see on one of the major three networks and not PBS. LIke watching a bunch of grown ups trying to appeal to teenagers, by trying to be hip and upbeat. The interview with Clinton was a disaster. “I have a geeky question” Are you kidding me?

    The Fabrication Room? Leave the humor to Jon Steward. Please.

    I’m not familiar with Alison Stewart, but have seen Jon Meacham on a few other shows. On those he came off as a very intelligent and educated person. That is not the person I saw on this show.


  • jacob

    I think F. Welsch makes a good point. I know Moyer’s retired, but what happened to Worldfocus and Now?
    I learned precisely nothing watching Need To Know. No light was shed. All the intellectual nutrition of baloney on white bread with Miracle Whip and a slice of processed american “cheese”.
    I had low expectations, but not this low.
    Please bring back Worldfocus and Now. How can you sleep at night.

  • R. Richardson

    Wow! Frightened white people with guns. “Ain’t that America.” Thousands walking around with deadly force.What part of deadly do they not understand? I feel safer now (not). It’s a paradise for bullies.This really turns up our already world-renowned paranoia.Have we gone nuts? People don’t kill, guns do.

  • jacob

    If there are any other Moyer’s/Now//Worldfocus viewer’s unhappy with PBS’s recent programing decisions I would suggest you check out Democracy Now at if you haven’t already. It is truly insightful and informative.

  • Linda P.

    Pretty good content – sort of 60-minutes type content – but really really soft: like Jacob said, nothing we didn’t already know. Also, nothing really probing. Bill M and David B asked some really tough, thoughtful, intelligent questions. The talking heads on this show seem to be awestruck that they’re allowed in front of a camera. And the next week’s news part: lame. As for the website, I have seen stuff on here (like facebook privacy issues) that I had actually hoped would be discussed. If it is not on the Friday program, why put it on the website? I did feel a little cheated.

    Admittedly, the production values of Journal and Now will be hard to live up to: one cannot judge this entire program by its first episode. Hopefully, Need to Know will find its feet, so I will stick around for a while. Good Luck, Need to Know. I’m in your corner.

  • Nathan

    Good stuff…hope it continues.

  • Brian

    A great show supporting gun rights. Thank God you did report on any of the thousand of deaths by unregistered hand guns annually as it would not enhance the gun rights agenda.

  • alex

    I don’t like the choice to shoot interviews without a table. In particular, the Bloomberg interview felt very uncomfortable. I can understand why you choose not to have a table, but I don’t think the choice worked for this program.

  • Diane

    My husband and I have been distraught ove the thought of Moyers and Brancaccio leaving, but we were so relieved to see such a worthy successor to those efforts. Thank goodness, PBS is still going to be offering insightful, investigative reporting on important issues facing all of us. We also loved the Andy Borowitz finale. Thank you so much, PBS!

  • D. Thomas

    I find Andy Borowitz to be a left wing political clown. As for Meacham… Newsweek failed under his liberal guidance. Stewart has been on every liberal network but mainly MSNBC so one can expect a very biased approach to issues. How can this network call itself Public TV. . Moyer was a LBJ liberal but this group of three make him look conservative. This is a center right country but PBS is left with our money & has no shame. The interview with Clinton was a cream puff joke. He rambled on … what a good boy am I. Come..This is indepth????

  • Neva

    Perhaps the first show had to address some of the general anxieties out there, ones we’ve seen over and over, lest the new viewers think the producers were clueless. You’re forgiven, provided you now go past the stuff we see in the loudest purveyors of “news.”

    The segment on the pill was good history, and gave perspective that the younger viewers wouldn’t have–A good thing, I think.

    I hope that this show gets more detailed and serious about getting the facts, documenting them – including mentioning and posting sources–, and a complete transcript for those of us who find it hard to hear it all as it goes by.

    Your audience is likely to be better informed that the audience for most “news” shows–please respect that, and go further.

    I’ll miss your predecessor, & Bill Moyers, but will be with you for a while, and watch the developments to see if your work gets deeper, and includes the viewpoints and facts ‘forgotten’ elsewhere.

    Good Research to you,

  • Steven Branch

    I was completely and utterly stunned when Bill Moyers announced last Friday that I was watching the final episode of his magnificent BM Journal. Over the years, the Journal offered a forum where people with vastly different opinions could both talk, but more importantly, respectfully listen to one another without childish name calling, baiting, and zinger-laden interruptions. This type of reasoned conversation will be sorely missed. Your program has some big shoes to fill and I wish you all the best in filling them.

  • Dave

    Love the show and the website. Amazing website!! Keep up the good work!

  • M. Gleason

    More air time for Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg… hosted by corporate media tool Jon Meacham… for this we need PBS?

  • Joseph DeLassus

    I’m annoyed that this program uses a ‘modified’ Adobe Flash player where there are no controls to adjust the volume, pause, full screen etc. I don’t understand why this is done since there are definite benefits to the viewer.

  • terry silverman

    thought the show had informative merit and was entertaining at the same time! loved Allison and thought the hosts laid back approach worked well. the web site is excellent and we will check it out daily.

  • jim de quattro

    The media player totally sucks. Impossible to adjust volume. the slider disappears as soon as you move your cursor toward it in order to upo the volume. I use a notebook with a touchpad.

    I was looking forward to viewing the episode, but unfortunately I can’t read lips.

  • Scott LaCoss Jr

    I absolutely enjoyed this program. I thoroughly enjoyed John Meacham and Allison Stewart. Please keep producting this informative and well produced program!

  • Ed

    I gotta say.. the crew that followed me for three days was nice as can be and very open minded. One of them shot at the range for the very first time in her life. Them watching me live my life was even boring and non eventful. Thank goodness that guy in Hair Cuttery knew nothing about 1911′s or how they were to be carried or there would not have been any controversy for the cameras in “normal PBS liberal” style. When we got to Champps in Reston, an older woman came up to me and said “I love your shirt!” because the back of it read “VCDL. Defending your right to defend yourself”. A few more small corrections and responses to some e-mails: Brooke does not “carry” her pistol, except unloaded to and from the range. The GUNS Save Lives magnets are available online at , The Flag Shirt is available at : When we pick up litter, MANY people stop to talk to us and thank us. Many blow their horns and and give us the thumbs up and/or wave (with all five fingers). Many of my friends are not conservative Republicans. I have friends as liberal as can be and they STILL believe in gun rights. The BAD GUYS will never follow the rules. Google my friend Nikki Goesser or Suzanna Hupp and you will see why people need to be able to carry and defend themselves. I just wish some student or teacher at VA Tech would have been armed so they could have prevented Cho from his murder spree. A GUN FREE ZONE is a criminals playground. GUNS Save Lives when carried by law abiding citizens. Thank you all for your comments and support.

  • Tony Parker

    The gun rights folks are actually advocating Terrorists being able to buy guns without any type of check on who they might be. This is ridiculous!!! I can’t believe this!

  • David Gregory

    I guess the Reich Wing assault on PBS during Bush the Clown’s Presidency HAS left it’s mark and made PBS timid, afraid to cross it’s corporate funders and forgetful of it’s strong, independent voice. By staffing the show with people in front of and behind the camera with cast-offs from commercial media, PBS has managed to produce commercial TV drivel without the commercials.

    I seriously doubt that a proper search of independent producers and journalists could have produced a staff and product more in-line with the traditions of PBS public affairs programming. BTW- nobody said a word about Now’s funding difficulties until after the show was cancelled. I would have gladly given generously to the show as long as I didn’t have to filter it through the lame local PBS affiliates that seem to care more about nostalgia programming and recycled British drama & comedy. I will gladly and generously support quality PBS programming, but will not support any of the local PBS outlets down here in Red State America.

    If PBS continues to take the low road and pander to the short attention span set and continue it’s pattern of avoiding controversial subjects and voices it will be violating the very reason public media exists. I do not seek programming that I have to agree with, but I do expect programming that presents what we need to know factually, accurately, honestly and fully. Get your head out of the Beltway and Manhattan- most of us do not live there.

  • Keith Rutman

    will this be avl on itunes in the near future?

  • John Adams

    Bill Moyer’s Journal has been my number one favorite show for years and years; and it has been replaced by “Need To Know” ??? I cannot begin to find the words to exact my sense of disgust and disappointment. As I watched the Fluff/ Propoganda piece on 2nd Amendment Gun Rights and Open Carry, I asked myself… where is the concept of journalism, or the concept of fair and balanced?? What a one-sided, anti-gun rights piece of trash!! And to top it off you interviewed Michael Bloomberg!?? That’s like asking Felipe Calderon how he feels about illegal immigrants!? You should be embarrassed.

  • Richard Conron

    “Need to Know” just another “run of the mill” news show —It has got to go!!!
    Why would I support public television with this poor copy of 60-minutes
    Please bring back Now. Find a young Bill Moyers. I have watched these programs for years.
    Friday night and PBS went hand and hand —–not any more
    “Inside Washington” a poor copy of “Washington Week” —- dump it
    I’m also very tired of the screamers on Mclaughlin’s panel

  • Erick Salomon

    I like the show, great job continue,I will watch on line when i’m not home. thank you.

  • E. Nowak

    I, too, am disappointed by the dumb-down nature of this show. It is obvious that the anti-right-to-know, pro-corporate forces have held sway at PBS and have produced a much more inferior product than Bill Moyers and Now, the two excellent programs your show has replaced.

    It was good that you covered the oil spill, but you didn’t go very in depth. I expect in-depth investigative reporting from PBS. Why pander to those with short attention spans? They aren’t going to tune in however you serve up important news. Gun rights? I saw the gun-rights side represented and the gun-control side given short shrift. Has PBS been corrupted by the right wing to the point that liberal/progressive view-points are no longer being shown? (I don’t see Mayor Bloomberg is hardly a good representative of the gun control debate!) The original intent of public television was to provide alternative content and points of view that were not being offered by for-profit TV. I didn’t see that last night.

    And I am perplexed at how you chose the subjects you covered in last night’s show. The oil spill, although poorly covered, was ok, but there are more important issues than “the Pill” right now. How about covering the financial reform bill? How about covering the net-neutrality debate? The health care bill and how it is going to affect everyone. Global warming. Corporate campaign finance. There are hundreds of more important stories. Instead we got a long non-brain challenging story about the Pill. Interesting, but hardly worth filling up the few precious TV minutes available for real news.

    And I was also was very very very disappointed to see Bill Clinton featured tonight! A good interview with a president, even a former president, should be a respectful boxing match. You should have clobbered him. For example, how about some brave questions regarding the role that Clinton played in the recent financial meltdown? I voted for Clinton, but I have been appalled at how it has emerged that some of the laws that Clinton signed and some of the policies and people he appointed were pivotal in the recent economic meltdown. (And are still in government today!) Or how about NAFTA? Was this some sort of “balance” to the conservative slanted gun-rights story? History has shown that Clinton really was a conservative who did as much damage to this country in the past 30 years as any Republican, why aren’t you?

    Instead, the interview was like watching two breathless school-girls interviewing a pop-idol! Better yet, why an interview with politicians in the first place? Unless it is about a particular issue, it’s a exercise in ego massage and is meaningless to me. Journalism is about truth. But I have never heard any Politician get close to saying any thing close to the truth.

    Finally, why the bad bad bad attempt at humor at the end of the show? Again, you only have a few precious minutes to devote to in-depth journalism and this is how you fill them? Please, leave the “faux news” to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and the Fox news network — two sources that REALLY know how to show fake news and make us laugh.

    We have enough infotainment in this country!! And it worthless! I hope you change course with future episodes, because American “Needs to Know” about important issues — not fluffy kitten stories like you showed last night.

  • E. Nowak

    “… When we got to Champps in Reston, an older woman came up to me and said “I love your shirt!” because the back of it read “VCDL. Defending your right to defend yourself”…. Ed”

    Ed, has it occurred to you that you only get people who agree with your pro-gun stance because the people who disagree with you are too TERRIFIED to approach (let alone debate) someone who openly carries a gun?

    The world always looks like dark to someone that never come out of their cave.

  • J.R. Pritchett

    I watched with optimistic anticipation. I won’t tune in again because of my disgust. Clinton and Bloomberg? Really? Two camera-hounds that apparently don’t get enough time on the MSM. You would think that your premier show would reflect the best qualities of future broadcasts. Read the above comments that so eloquently articulated their disappointment. Simply change course or expect to lose your loyal substantial Friday night audience.

  • VGR

    Bloomberg is such a joke. Mayors left and right accross the country are dropping like flys as they fall from his “mayors against illegal guns” group. What is an illegal gun anyway? Do guns have to follow laws? When mayors find out that Bloomberg is is trying to disarm citizens of their own cities and towns.. they drop out.

    So why is crime dropping so fast in the big city of NY like Bloomberg is bragging about? Because of things like this:

    Ed should have been able to go head-to-head.

  • David D.

    Succession implies the next step or possibly even ascendancy. The first Need to Know impression was that it moved the dialogue, on a PBS Friday evening slot, one large step backwards. The reflective realization each Friday was that a concentrated influence of power and wealth has, in the name of unfettered market forces and profit, co opted much of our democracy, thus tilting and plundering the American playing field (with implicit guarantees). John and Allison merely brought some of that precept to the table and from there ushered in political pros to verbally gyrate justification for continuing to be forced in that same direction. No matter how provoked or misplaced, the influence behind them not only needs to be avoided but accommodated. That’s the messy work of bi partisanship? Could the long time seat at the table of privilege have skewed any well intentions? The missing and muffled voice of the many continues to be marginalized or left out; all for the sake of supporting a broken status quo. If that is the producers objective we are accustomed to “mission accomplished” journalism. I had hoped that others in leadership (Alison and Jon) would connect the truth-to-power-dots that the elite and powerfoul to often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. In these “odd times” we need those with access, unafraid to stand and convincingly show why and how the WE is endangered.

    “We just don’t have the political conviction as we all have a moneyed affliction”.

  • Gwen

    PBS is afraid of the right wing conservatives-just like the rest of the world???? I was appalled when NOW was cancelled. Reminds me of the radical Muslims who are so afraid of women.

    From a long time independent and proud of it!

  • Ana Kirola

    I have to say first of all that I have bias because I think Amy Allison is wonderful. I used to listen to her on the Morning Show in KPFA. I do think the show is a good look into the problematic structure of our country. The story on the NRA people was quite eye-opening as was the story on BP and the aquarium Sigh. Keep up the good work!!!! I will follow this program for sure.

  • Susan Bruce

    This new show is no more than a PBS version of 60 Minutes. Not the old, relevant 60 Minutes, either. It’s the corporate-afraid 60 Minutes. Need to Know is the new, fearful PBS – afraid of conservatives and bowing to corporate concerns. This show is not the successor to NOW or Moyers. It’s the mincing, squeamish alternative being foisted upon us in the hopes that we’ll keep on forking over our cash during pledge. I see no reason to support timidity in programming. There’s far too much of that being foisted on me on network television.

    I’m sorry PBS. I’m embarrassed for you. This is a sorry epitaph for great programming like Moyers and NOW.

  • Riana

    I’m sure Ed gets his share of folks who disapprove of his carrying a gun. I mean, that fellow at the hair place sure seemed annoyed about it, and said something. The entire world is not afraid of an inanimate object.

    I would have LOVED to see Ed go head-to-head with Bloomberg. That would have been awesome. LOL

  • Anne Linn

    “Need to Know” has a young and bright feel, but brings little to the national conversation. Bring on Rachel Maddow, and we will have our Friday night conversation back.

  • Kristina

    If this program is supposed to be a replacement for Bill Moyers, I am very disappointed. Need to know is just a run of the mill news program. And all the topics had already been treated exhaustively in the press. Why not a program with in depth interviews with interesting people that you don’t see in the news but who make a real impact on our society? That is what we got with Mr. Moyers and I miss him terribly.

  • Bill

    Very disappointing show. I wonder why the reporter faild to ask Bloomberg about the thousands of people who get mistakenly put on the no-fly list. And how adding them to NCIS check list would make it a ten year felony to be in posession of guns that they may allready own. Did the reporter ever think of asking what the BATF defines a gun dealer?

  • Theo

    First off, Jon Meacham is the best. I love the closing segment with the big TV too. Those sneaky Greeks.. Please keep this show coming in all it’s cheesy glory!

  • Mary

    Need to Know does not air on Maryland Public Television until 10:30, following an oft-repeated British mystery. I just watched the program online, however, and was disappointed. Bill Moyers’ Jounal is an impossible act to follow, I know, but I was hoping for a bit more “counter” reporting. Why not do a story on the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service. That body has not covered itself with glory in the oil spill disaster, and I wonder why not. A story of behind-the-scenes business at the DOI’s coal mining regulation body also might be illuminating. The “Fabrication” segment is your version of Andy Rooney, I’m guessing. Maybe you just don’t have the budget, including the time, to go after the dirt under the surface of corporate (sometimes in collusion with gonervmant) lying.

  • Dan Welburn

    Don’t let your speakers utter unchallenged falsehoods during their interviews. You allowed the gun rights speaker to get away with some unanswered, undocumented statements about social security, the post office and others with no response. Lies uttered on national television do our country a grave injustice and play into the hands of their agenda. Don’t allow this practice to continue.

  • essania

    This was a terribly boring, uninteresting, disappointing shallow piece of watered down fluff. I turned the TV off during the boring interview with Clinton.I used to look forward to Fri. nights with NOW and Bill Moyers. I can’t believe that PBS put this awful program on to succeed such high quality journalism. If at least Meacham had a little charisma, but he has none. PBS you have made a terrible decision and have lost at least one Fri. night viewer. I won’t waste my time watching this show again.

  • Teri

    Really disappointed that this player does not allow me to see the captioning…as a deaf person it makes the shows unavailable….too bad…looked good.

  • Jane Fellman

    PBS has been one of the few bright lights on television for news, journal and discussion exemplified by Bill Moyers. Frontline often provides hard hitting investigations. Rachel Maddow, Pat Morrison, Terrence McNally, Ian Masters and others of their elk suggest some levels of depth required. Where was Amy Goodman’s report on the lack of government regulation granted to the oil rig builders. Where are women and men who have the near over arching brilliance of Bill Moyers to move us from the particular to macro concepts and ideals? I had hoped, that as soon as possible, I would be able to contribute $10 a month and more in appreciation to PBS for that which I have learned over the years including Tavis Smiley’s and Charlie Rose’s programs and election and campaign coverage. Bill Moyers brought into focus that which Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley do not discuss. Why not show relevant past programs of Moyers until you can find a program suitable for his slot. The highest quality of PBS is needed in these times. Wishing you success in this for the sake of all of us. Jane F.

  • Michael G

    In-depth investigative reporting on PBS seems to have died. Need to Know needs to “Now.” Borowitz is more boring than witty. This show is a great disappointment.

  • TeddyKGB

    Ending the program with a preview of the week’s events to come is a fantastic idea.
    Making it “funny” caused it to crash and burn.
    Leave the comedy to JStew and Colbert, please.

  • Sophie

    I’m afraid I agree with F. Welsch above, however: I do not place blame with Alison Stewart or Jon Meacham but with the producers and directors of the show who set its tone, structure, etc. — unless they served in these roles as well.


    1) In Bill Moyer’s closing remarks he mentioned (or alluded to) the inability of appearing at the studio for a show every week. Go to him. Get a small crew to wherever he is and book guests accordingly. The set and polish of the Journal is not what matters, it is the voice of Bill Moyers, the intelligent, long-form conversations on critical topics he brings to us every week. His narrative was broken prematurely. Bring a crew to him. Pay him whatever he needs. We will help.

    2) If Bill Moyers isn’t able to continue ‘on the road’ — monthly or bi-monthly, even — stick with the Bill Moyers format. I’d suggest even using the same studio. Why not the continuity? Symbolic legacy sometimes matters. One-on-one conversations help set that show apart from drivel elsewhere. Pass the torch to someone else — one person — a woman, preferably, and there are so many women with voices that are deserving of such a platform, voices that aren’t heard in the mainstream. Voices, like Moyers’, who we need to hear, even if most of us don’t yet know their names. Two are not better than one in this context, in my opinion.

  • Janet Nydahl

    I haven’t been able to get through 10 minutes of the program; I will try again; with Moyers and Now, I was hooked and watched most of it immediately. The criticism I have seen so far I agree with.
    However, since I have not watched the program so far, I have one immediate reaction to share; if I wanted to know what Bill Clinton wanted to say about the future; the only thing I want to know is why he sold out to Wall Street and repealed Glass/Stegall Act that has caused all this financial problems. That’s the type of program we demand and deserve. Please redo or start a different show.

  • jacob

    One last comment:
    In the opening of the show, it was conveyed that Need To Know intended to “turn up the light, not the heat” on issues affecting americans. I have observed that the best and often times most relevant reporting & analysis requires a certain amount of FIRE IN THE BELLY and perhaps even moral outrage in light of incalculable amount of injustice, repression, lies, wanton destruction of the environment, dysfunctional gonvernments, unaccountable military crimes, unsustainable economic policies, media and other monopolies, the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and on and on occurring today. All of the great investigative reporters (not spoon-fed state department mouthpieces), analysts, authors, college professors, civic leaders, and activists, have this combination of fire in the belly, moral outrage, and a (sane) vision of a better world urging them forward in their work.
    That is all.

  • Ken Lei

    Dear PBS,

    I am very saddened by the direction this show is being taken and I would have to agree with other viewers that this show is much too dumbed down than what I had expected after being a loyal viewer of Moyers, Now, and Charlie Rose. I am in no way saying we have to replace Bill Moyers Journal with a copycat clone, but the news coverage of this show is simply too shallow and uninteresting to attract and retain viewers like myself. If I had wanted average news coverage I could easily have read the news online or watch it on one of the other major networks. The core audience that this show is supposed to appeal to are educated, knowledgeable people that will most likely already have known about the information shown in this episode and expect more in-depth investigative reporting than “Need to Know” is presenting. I learned almost nothing useful or intriguing watching this show in comparison to that of Bill Moyers Journal and Now. And I did not enjoy the last segment at all. This show seems more tailored to a mass network audience with short attention spans rather than the educated viewers of Bill Moyers Journal. I have nothing against the general style change in the program, but a deep informative discussion should always take place as I am more annoyed with the lack of information being presented than the hip trendy style “Need to Know” is trying to copy. To be honest, I wouldn’t dismiss the show immediately, but if the show continues down this trend, I will most likely not waste my time with it since I can get better news elsewhere.

    Please tell me true journalism is not dead. Good luck PBS.

  • Doug Hornal

    I watched the first show and so far I am not very impressed, very little depth in the questions, basically the gun issue segment was nothing more than opposing groups rehashing the same old lines that they have for years, no probing questions. no why questions or factual statistics to build on.
    The interview with Mr. Clinton was even worse. No hard hitting questions, like why did he help to sets us up for the Wall Street fiasco by deregulation.
    Light with out heat is why I don’t watch CBS, NBC, ABC news.
    I will give “Need to Know” a few more chances to get it right but if it does not improve I will vote with my wallet at the next pledge drive.

  • william morris

    I grieved with the retirement of Bill Moyers and his wonderful presence on PBS, however, he has certainly earned it. I do not understand the end of Now, as it was a wonderful legacy of Bill Moyers, and excelled in its reporting. Need to Know is a faint shadow of either one of these. I was dissappointed with the format and the reportage of Need to Know. I can live with the People Magazine level of reportage of Need to Know, as I can just turn it off. However I cannot turn on Now and I certainly cannot turn on a worthy successor of Bill Moyers journal, which Need to Know is definitely not.

  • john smeelick

    current beats you hands down!

  • Mike

    Caught your first show, a Bill Moyers fan. Thanks for replacing with a program similar. One thing I noticed is “Many different Topics” and not sure you can have so many without going broke. Some quality may be sacrificed for quantity of storied. The nightly news programs on the major networks do that, interesting how they all cover the same stories with a different twist vs being independent, for ratings.
    I have a concealed weapons permit. I got it after a violent action took place in my neighborhood. When our state opened concealed weapons permits, there were 800 of them, today there are over 200,000 with half from outside the state and climbing. I noticed that shootings are more frequent on freeways, bullet holes in people’s homes, gun shows with “buy and walk out the door” and with 200,000 illegal aliens in our state, these folks can buy at gun shows, without a background check. I went to Cabella’s, watched as a 21 year old something, looking at guns, was going back and forth to another man who could not speak English, only Spanish. I assumed, the young man, was his “anchor baby” and the gun was really intended for the guy who could not speak English.
    The fellow saying the airplanes that flew into the World trade buildings might not have turned out that way, if he was on the plane with a gun. That man is scarey.
    You fire a gun on a plane, decompression along with loss of control goes up. How can this man say, a guy, who attended a 3 hours class, gets a concealed weapons permit and then can make a snap decision to shoot someone without hitting someone else or putting a hole in the fuselage?
    That is the mentality. Most of the people I have met that strap guns on and parade around don’t have all their lights on, they are short of a full load of bricks usually.
    Unfortunately, thanks to laws and no laws passed by our government that are not in the best interest of our country and rewards special interests based on money bribery, repeal of the Glass Steagal Act, Commodity Futures Modernization Act, the incentive to Outsource jobs to India and the world, the tax cuts for the Rich, the demise of Defined Benefit pensions with Congress and the Courts blessing, the Sub-prime mess with 80% fraud by brokers, the Fraud of the HAMP program, five million families in foreclosure and the obscene bonuses of Goldman Sachs, the US Treasurers of former Wall Street Investment CEO’s…….. and the loss of wealth of the average American and lack of real wage increases over the past 30 years of the middle class (under $250K a year taxable income after deductions).
    Everyone I know is ticked off. We just knocked out the 3 term US Senator, ending his “career”. Since when is a US Senator a career position? That form of thinking needs to be ridden. Those guys who have been in office for more than two terms need to go.
    Anyway, look forward to your program. Try not to compete with the nightly news on a weekly basis and have a format of the biggest problem having the most impact on the American People but your first show was super, best of luck in the future.

  • Lorna Hatton

    Watched with my college age kids (19 and 21) and we all laughed out loud at Borowitz’s closing segment. What an inspired choice he is! Looking forward to more.

  • Shirley from Florida

    An astonishing insult to the legacy of Bill Moyers Journal and NOW, which we eagerly anticipated every Friday. After PBS News Hour and Washington Week, these were the best of the best each and every week. Americans are starving for in-depth honest journalism, not some dumbed-down fast-paced quickie that barely scratches the surface of intellectual stimulation. The final slap was the closing segment, really stupid, not at all thought provoking. Please, PBS, surely you can do better than this. I’ll try to watch it a few more times, hoping this feedback will point you back in the right direction, but if not, I may stop supporting PBS with my checkbook.

  • Ira Klein

    I thought the whole show was a breath of fresh air. I’ve read Jon Meacham and Andy Borowitz’s work and I salute PBS for signing them on. Not familiar with Ms. Stewart but she was very smart/appealing. I have not given PBS financial support in the past but I will now.

  • Marjorie from New York City

    Good first outing, with segment on Pill and Borowitz comedy the highlights. Looking forward to the series. Understand people’s sadness about Moyers, but he is 76 for heaven’s sake, let him retire.

  • norma

    Just what we need! Loved Bill Moyers, but welcome to the future …
    Laughed with joy at the final Andy Borowitz’s prediction piece. Look forward to more of same … please

  • noelle

    Ana Kirola:
    Allison Stewart is not Aimee Allison. Aimee is still on KPFA Morning Show, as far as I know.
    Why didn’t Bill Moyers’ sole corporate sponsor pony up their money to support Now? Wasn’t Now originally a successor to Bill Moyers anyway?

  • Virginia Brown

    Our local station scheduled Bill Moyers at 11 PM on Fridays. This made it almost impossible for
    for seniors such as myself to watch. I believe this was delibnerate timing so as to not offend important contributors or corporate sponsors as well as the state legislature.

  • Phillip

    Agree with above comment by Norma – loved Moyers and will miss him, but Borowitz is a delight.

  • l brown

    i was tired friday when i watched the first episode
    fearing that my comments would be inaccurate
    i waited and just sat through another “viewing”
    the following adjectives come to mind:
    please find a bill moyers
    clone him
    compel him to return
    beg, plead, borrow
    please find someone who is not beholden to anyone to report our news
    by the way
    why did you eliminate “now”
    did david also want to retire???

  • T Hanson

    Your interview with B. Clinton was far from indepth.. Three questions the public would like to know the answer to: l. Did he agree with Robert Rueben & gang that Brooksley Born should be late go.. thus no regulation on deirivitives, which she wanted, thus the financial failure?? 2.
    Did Clinton feel making Fanny & Fredie into GSE organizatitons with taxpayer backing. allowing Franklin Rains to cook the books & make off with 90 million in bonuses a good move?? 3. Why did not AG Janet Reno bring charges against Rains & his people. OPS were these to deep for you liberals. Those are questions you only ask a conservative.. I forgot..

  • Chester P.

    Excellent show! The Borowitz bit at the end was really inspired, quick and genuinely hilarious! Loved the Gun piece as well!
    Keep it up,

  • Angus

    First,we lost World Focus, and now Bill Moyers’ Journal and Now. And, to add insult to injury , Bill Moyers is replaced by fluffy, glossy stuff (Need to Know) that is masquerading as meaningful investigative reporting. Pbs is surely dumbing-down in the competition for eyeballs ! I can accept BIll Moyers retiring . The man is 75 years old and deserves to maybe spend more time with his grandchildren. The program Now, with David and Maria ,should have been returned to its original 1 hour time length. David was hand-picked by Bill five years ago to be his successor,and has done an excellent job of filling those very big shoes on Now.
    In pbs’ pursuit of attracting more viewers with its news/entertainment new programs (the comedy at the end really stunk) it risks loosing its core group of supporters-those that expect indepth information and intellectual stimulation with their news programs.

  • Angela L. Catallo

    BORING! Just another copy of so many other shallow, pathetic so-called news programs. Nothing in depth. As another viewer wrote, “Fluff”. I was so hoping for something that would be worthy of the time slot and of following in Bill Moyers’ & Now’s footsteps. I wonder if they are as horrified as we, the viewers, are.

  • paul houndt

    can`t PBS step up a little,with Mr. Moyers and David gone theres a serious void…

  • Melina


    WHERE IS DAVID BRANCACCIO? Seriously, where did he go? And what happened to his show?

    “Need to Know” was a huge waste of time and money, in my opinion, but I am also disappointed that so many of us don’t know the ‘fate’ of the above — that after investing in worthwhile programming, and making donations, we are unaware of what has happened to a program whose anchor is not of the retirement age. I confess I haven’t been able to see all of the NOW programs, but did we all miss an announcement? It would have been helpful — and nice — for the new anchors to have tipped their hats to the anchors and programs theirs is currently replacing, and made some mention of how the former achors are now contributing to PBS, if at all.

    PLEASE show more respect for those who have supported your former programming choices for so many years.

    WIthout Bill Moyers, David Brancaccio, World Focus, Washington Week and the other programs others have mentioned above, I will use my pledge money elsewhere.

  • barbara ann fitzpatrick

    c-, but lets see what happens. I know Bill Moyers has earned his rest or whatever, but what happened to NOW?

  • T. Ernest

    Wowie Zowie!
    What a rewarding experience, to see “Now’s” investigative exploration replaced by such fare as an interview with Bill Clinton and a retrospective on the birth control pill. Lord knows there has been so little discussion about the pill in the last 50 years. I wonder why David Brancaccio didn’t “do” the pill during his time on stage. I bet he wouldn’t have taken up the subject in the future unless there were some dark secret to reveal. So it’s a good thing he was yanked off the air or the report on the pill probably would have been stillborn. And then where would we be? If only I remembered the new information the newly broadcast pill report put on the table. Guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
    And the interview with Clinton: Smashing job! It’s not like the guy is an easy interview or craves publicity or squirms out of hard questions. I just wish I wouldn’t have walked away for a few moments at the times when your anchors must have double-teamed him with tough questions on such topics as his opening the doors to Islamic terrorists or appointing as corrupt a group of high-level officials as we’ve ever seen in the nation’s capitol or ushering in a corrupt NAFTA treaty under which trade regulators operate in secrecy or feeding and encouraging an even more corrupt UN or fueling all kinds of financial bubbles that enriched the already rich at the expense of us lower classes and distorted the economy to the point that it finally melted. He even scored a hedge fund job for Chelsea in which she earned hundreds of G’s a year for performing unknown or perhaps no work at all. But Bill knows that all we need in order to succeed as a nation is to be forward-looking. How profound! And “Need to Know” brought that gem to us. Another segment that Brancaccio could never have brought to viewers.
    And efforts by gun-owners (I’m not one) to elevate their numbers and rights at a time when gun-haters like Obama and Pelosi are running the government — another fine selection. I liked the sense of forboding throughout the whole piece, not unlike the feelings that “Need to Know” chronicled and mocked in the birth-control-pill segment. I liked how gun fans were allowed to mouth their thoughts during the piece, but the authoritative overviews were delivered by gun-rights critics. And I loved how the show studiously avoided presenting statistics or other hard information revealing whether gun ownership and every open-carry laws drove up or suppressed crime. I remember how armed robberies and assaults plunged almost immediately years ago when a lawless Florida enacted “open carry,” and proponents have cited favorable stats again and again as other states followed suit. I’m grateful that “Need to Know” didn’t crack that nut open.
    Yep, this is obviously a great show in the making. Treating cult-of-personality King Bill Clinton as a wise elder statesman, truth teller and soothsayer. Ripping the veil of secrecy off the birth-control pill. Exposing the efforts by Second Amendment stalwarts to strengthen their legal status and broaden their presence. This is what journalism is all about.

  • Kellianne

    Andy Borowitz rocks! Thanks, PBS, for bringing him to TV. Liked the gun segment, too – you can see the potential in this show with more pieces like that.

  • New PBS Series: Opening Episode on the Open Carry Movement – INGunOwners

    [...] PBS Series: Opening Episode on the Open Carry Movement Need to Know – May 7, 2010 – Full episode | Need to Know | PBS About 12:30 into the video the segment on open carry begins. Oh but there is plenty of bad news. [...]

  • Dave Bagley

    For the opening show for the replacement of NOW, I am less than impressed. I understand PBS’s desire to try to attract younger viewers, but Need To Know needs help. I’ll try again in a month or so to see if things improve. PBS simply doesn’t realize the positive impact of delivering in-depth reporting vs hopping all over the place for enough material to fill up an hour. Please consider dumping the show and bringing back NOW with David & Maria in a one-hour format.

  • Vincent

    I open carry and I hope people will stop being afriad of guns. I agree that we should have no regulations on any guns! A criminal doesnt consider a law before he acts, gun laws only prevent law abiding citizens from protecting themselves.

  • Elizabeth

    I found out about the show from Jon Stewart’s interview with Jon Meacham this week. I found Jon Meacham an incredibly fascinating personality — intelligent, perceptive, spontaneous, and well informed. Traits that made Bill Moyers stand out as an interviewer and comentator.

    While I enjoyed this first presentation of Need to Know, I feel you are not taking advantage of what Mr. Meacham has to offer. The show is much like other news magazines, relying on topical stories, etc. Bill Moyers Journal was special in that is was as much a reflection of Mr. Moyers point of view as it was about the news. I think you should give Mr. Meacham the opportunity to make this his personal point of view. That would be special.

    And if you feel the need to keep the show co-anchored, please give Mr. Meacham a chair that doesn’t make him look so small next to Ms. Stewart.

  • Jessy

    I won’t get into the gun thing other than to say the gentleman who stated putting a bullet hole in an aircraft’s pressurized fuselage will result in a loss of pressurization and control hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about. Nothing of the sort will happen.

  • John

    This was a fairly disappointing broadcast that lacked a distinct point of view. The individual pieces were well-produced, but the topics, voices, and featured perspectives were of the “all-the-usual-suspects” variety. A strength of both Bill Moyers Journal and NOW was that they provided forums for perspectives that stand in contrast to the conventional wisdom and otherwise are excluded from “respectable” journalism. Who embodies the conventional wisdom better than Bill Clinton? It is fine to interview someone of his stature, but at least ask some hard questions. Don’t provide an embarrassingly fawning audience.

    And if a goal of the show is to broaden PBS’ audience to younger viewers (say in the 25-40 range), having younger hosts and an integrated web presence isn’t the simple answer. Offer perspectives relevant to their experiences rather than more of the same old Boomer-centric topics. Is another reminiscence about the 1960s and the sexual revolution really needed?

  • Seth

    I’m a huge fan of Bill Moyers, and was very sad to see him go. But the man is 75 years old and is entitled to his retirement. He’s gone and folks need to get over it and move on.

    Some of the criticism being leveled on Need To Know here is a bit over the top. One episode in and we have already written off this show. I watched the whole episode and as a regular viewer of the Newshour, Nightly Business Report, Washington Week, and Moyers for the last several years I enjoyed it.

    The open-carry conversation was well done and the interviews were thorough. I also enjoyed the Clinton interview. I was particularly impressed with Allison’s question about GPS, it was refreshing to hear a self-described “very geeky” question on PBS which is so often technology-averse. You would never hear Bill Moyers ask such a question.

    All of you people being hyper-critical about the interviews not being tough enough are apparently forgetting that Bill Moyers did not conduct tough interviews. What made his show great was his ability to find brilliant, rarely heard voices and sit down with them for comfortable 25-minute conversations. The great thing about Moyers is you never got that stress about “is this discussion going to get anywhere before time runs out” because it simply did not have the same format as a “gotta hit all the stories” news show.

    Maybe Need To Know will settle into that kind of a format, maybe not. But I think we need to wait and see.

  • Susan

    I was very disappointed in the show. It is “stuck in the middle” between fluffy infotainment and news, and it does not do either well.

    As TV is filled with superficial fluff, I hope PBS decides to refocus the show on actual in-depth, hard hitting reports. I think you are trying to cover too many topics.

    Please do not give politicians yet another stage, they need to be put on the spot-ask the hard questions.

    You don’t need humor; leave that to the Daily Show.

    I didn’t like the format where you read email; seriously, I can read posts from the web myself.

    Where are the supporting stats? For example, what are the stats regarding the actual number of crimes stopped by armed civilians?

    Style issues: Jon looked like he was sitting in a hole, he needs a higher chair. I don’t like the set. The hosts have no chemistry; consider one host or having them on at separate times.

    I’ll watch a couple more episodes but if the show does not improve I’ll look elsewhere for my news.

  • MFLD

    Pale in comparison to “Now”. I can’t believe PBS didn’t renew “Now”. Maybe these two will get better, but I doubt it. BAD DECISION to not renew one of the best, most reliable shows where information is not funded by our great corporations. Way to go PBS!!

  • Trina

    There is no replacing Bill Moyers so no comparisons should be made. I hope the show will become meatier over time.
    Thanks for including Andy Borowitz, an asset to the show! I love his incisive wit.

  • emjayay

    All the negative reviews are right. The worst part, which really crystalises the sucky overall tone of the show, was the truly flatfooted predictable unfunny joke segment at the end. Yeeech.
    The female host was a really creepy TV presence. The whole show, and particulary her, seemed to be pandering to some imagined audience. Very much no need to see TV. Please end the suffering and cancel this immediately. Try totally diffent producers with a new approach.

  • Ernest

    For the legions of Moyers fans, what you will now miss is a hard-left ideologue who waxed lyrically about his own opinions and made a point of steering clear of arguments of others who held opposite opinions, though he wasn’t above distorting them. He was the Bill Bennett of the left, though Bennett is far less afraid of exposing himself to questioning in public. Moyers was differed from Moyers in that having sold his soul to the power-mad deceiver Lyndon Johnson, Moyers became loyal to him forevermore and even now refuses to rebuke him. But then, it has been shown that there is far less to Moyers than the face he shows. For example, he signed on to Johnson Administration’s wiretapping and spying on Martin Luther King and to other LBJ hijinks. Fear of being revealed probably explains Moyers’ reticence in making public appearances before any group that might contain critics.

    Maria Hinajosa (sp?) displayed a similar single-minded, unquestioning allegiance to her shallow personal opinions in the segments of hers I viewed, but Brancaccio actually provided some balance and depth that I’m not used to seeing on any serious TV, though it was clear how he tilted. He is also unfailingly polite and aspires to marshal a respectable set of facts and logic for his reports — a quality that evades most commentators, particularly hard idealogues such as those named above. This apparently put him in poor standing in the chambers of PBS, which should be headquartered in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    I fear for the continued existence of “Frontline,” the best specimen of investigative journalism to linger on television — a show that seems to disregard idealogical favoritism. What it’s doing on PBS in the first place remains a riddle Sherlock Holmes probably couldn’t unravel.

  • SM

    What a disaster! This reminds me of exactly what they did to Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser. They ousted one older, terrific, well-seasoned white guy who could provide perspective and wisdom on a low-tech set, with a team of one younger black female and one younger white male who had no chemistry, far less experience, little perspective, and a flashy, distracting set. And the new show bombed with viewers. Now there is little to look forward to anymore on PBS, since they’ve gotten rid of the BBC Newshour, Washington Week with Lou, Now, and Bill Moyers. It seems that half the time is spent begging for money, and the other half on entertainment. Now you’ve added “fluff” to the schedule, something I never thought I would have to contend with on PBS. I just hope that public radio isn’t destroyed next. Someone probably has Marty Moss Cohane in their crosshairs — maybe she’s getting too many gray hairs to attract a younger audience. She was probably taken off the air on PBS because her set was too plain: just a table and chairs. But oh what great conversations! You can keep your flashy sets and “team” coverage. Just give me one experienced person in a plain room with the knowledge and guts to ask the tough questions and the persistence to get answers. I was about to renew my membership, but I think I won’t this year just to let you know what I think of your programming changes. Do whatever you have to do to accommodate Bill Moyers so he doesn’t have to go to the studio every week, and bring him back. He’s only 75 with plenty more years to go, not 105. My Friday nights are ruined now. Thanks for nothing PBS.

  • Kent

    I could barely get through this program without turning it off. As public television, a joke. As advertised for its supposed intent, a lie. You say this program is to get beyond slogans and rhetoric, and shed “more light” with “both sides” of passionate subjects. If so, the BP oil spill story as a lead-off was a dismal failure. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times as your primary interviewee and expert on this subject? That is balance and an expert view to this story? Give me a break! Where are the nuances of the problems and technology of drilling in deep water? Why we even have to be drilling there? How allowing and encouraging other energy types could alleviate the need to be there? As usually, plenty of criticism and the usual suggestions of big business influence and campaign buyoffs, but no suggestions as to real answers. Shallow pap at best, no new light. If this the lead-off, this show will fold quickly.

  • John in Arizona

    The opening of the show alluded to the fact that it was not trying to replace Bill Moyers, but rather only to succeed him. I have faithfully watched Moyers for years, and this show is clearly not a worthy successor, much less a replacement. Moyers never failed to make me think, sometimes in ways I had never thought before. This show is all style and very little substance. A big disappointment. I’ll consider this debut broadcast as strike one. Two more and you’re out.

  • Daniel

    Allthough EVERY American has a right to say anything they want, (A right Earned for ALL OF US by men and women who both killed and died by the gun to ensure you or your children wern’t dragged out of their beds for their opinion) opt for any side that fits their perfect little world, the anti-gun folk scare me the most. People who would rape, murder or maim care nothing for the laws of man and being proven time and time again, attack mainly the weak and or unprotected . If guns are made illegal, honest men and women will be unprotected, the local crack dealer I assure you , will not be. Do you honestly think ANYONE left their house with the knowladge that today they would be raped, mugged, beaten savagely or killed needlessly just so some street urchin (and this country is full of them) could earn his place in a gang? Or maybe your daughter or wife stopped for gas on the way to work and said “Not today , I’m late for work, rape Me tommorrow.” Do you people not understand that prison is litteraly spilling over with violent criminals who just know “I’m Never gonna get cought” ? Guess what, just becouse you would never hurt any one doesn’t mean smack. You dreamer, are the minority. Your views on a peaceful existance will only work until the day when you or someone you love is forced to face the fact that there are people out there who would spill your blood for the price of a rock, new sneakers, to prove how “HARD” they are, whatever. I assume you can read as well as try to force your views on everyone who doesn’t think like you, pick up a paper, watch the news, open your eyes for once instead of your mouth. You have the right to arm yourself or not, again a right of choice YOU never fought or bled for but someone did for you. Think about that next time. Got a nice car? Watch? Wait until all the guns are illegal and Carl crackhead knows it and see how long it takes before he kills you or one of yours for it. Do the research, look up the crime stats from FL before open carry and after, then make an EDUCATED decision. I DETEST VIOLENCE but have been PERSONALLY touched by it, I PROMISE you it will change your view. Like guns or not, they are neccesary for a peaceful life. Don’t carry,Do carry, again your right to choose. Just remember the wolf who knows the sheepdog will attack will not target the sheep where the unprotected flock is ravaged.

  • Paul

    I am very disappointed in the lack of depth, lack of probing questions, and in most of the topics presented in “Need to Know”. I am interested in competent, credibly documented investigative reporting and in-depth presentations of current critical issues. I was hoping that the “Need to Know” program would have lived up to its title – in my opinion it failed. I will watch a couple more programs, but it they are of the same caliber as the first program, I won’t be watching more.of “Need to Know”.

    I am also very disappointed in the cancellation of “NOW”. I would have liked to see “NOW” expanded to a one hour program. I can understand and appreciate why “Bill Moyers Journal” ended as he wished to retire, but I do not understand why “NOW” was canceled.

    I would like to know why “NOW” was canceled. The cancellation of NOW is causing me to reconsider whether I wish to continue supporting PBS. I certainly have no interest in supporting “Need to Know” in place of “NOW” especially if it continues its present dumbed-down reporting.

  • Barry

    I was very disappointed with the degree of anti-gun bias shown in your piece on the open carry movement. Gun owners and their positions were treated with wide-eyed amazement, but gun control arguments and advocates were presented as the voice of reason. So much for open-minded discussion.

    By the way, it’s hard to know just where to start with comments on the distortions presented, but this one stands out: The number of guns in the country has been rising for 20+ years, but gun accidents and gun crime is falling. This is directly counter to assertions by your reporter.

  • Rkat

    Great and it can only get better. I am patient. Good reporting is never flawed. This is the stuff we never get to see in a soundbite!

  • J T Miscavige

    We are truly disappointed. Descriptors? Shallow. Lack of sincerity. Nothing to make one ‘think’. The Borowitz segment was just plain stupid. Sort of like watching the last 5 minutes of Countdown – at least there you expect it – but not in this timeslot. We will give this a few more tries – but honestly, if the next two shows are like the first show, then we would just as soon see dead air when we turn on PBS in this time slot. You really missed the mark on this one…
    We were not expecting a replacement or clone of Bill Moyers – just something intelligent – this is not it! Not even close.

  • If P then Q

    I’m in Mexico City and I can’t watch the show. This was not an issue with Moyers nor with “Now”! WTF!

  • P McBrayer

    We’re watching the webisode and are pleased with the depth and coverage, and the angles taken. I know the breadth, intelligence and the thoughtfulness that will be utilized here, so do carry on. The crdibility of both Alison and Jon will go far to deepen the experience of this program. Really liked the “pill” piece as a point of perspective from then to now. I am going to view it with young women in my high school class. Borowitz is great!
    I’ll have to hook my piano teacher, a long-time Moyers fan. I think she’ll agree with me.

  • Sylvia P.

    Hmmm … I’ll watch this one once more just to make sure I’m not judging it too harshly, but on first take my reaction is, “I can get coverage like this elsewhere”. I expect so much more, particularly in a program that is purporting to fill the very large footprint left by Bill Moyers. There must be a substantive dialog requiring a depth of knowledge and a genuine grasp of the subject coupled with a willingness to question, not for the sake of mere contention, but to reveal important facets of a subject that the interviewee has omitted, either inadvertently or purposefully. Mr. Moyers brought another valuable asset to his program, one that cannot be taught, and that was wisdom. That wisdom gave him the authority that accompanies intelligence coupled with genuine curiosity. Good luck.

  • Luke

    Hey there, i’m sure it’s tough getting a new show on and my fingers are crossed for you. Right now though, I gotta say, I’m not sure what this show is meant to be. I guess you’re trying to bring in young viewers, but then I have to agree with John. Vanguard on Current is the breath of fresh air I wish you were taking: exciting field reporting with young and intelligent eyes, not jazzy entertainment tonight style dazzle to make information taste better. When the energy and intelligence are there, IT IS ENTERTAINMENT. (and i promise I don’t work for vanguard, I just see it as the new wave that I hoped your show would be). Take our comments in stride. Go forth, improve and we’ll be there!

  • Jim Koren

    Well, what can I say? Weak! Sounds like a network show!

    I agree with those who recommend the vanguard show on Current TV (

  • Elmo

    I love Obama being portrayed as pro gun. The reason the NRA had such a problem with candidate Obama was that he voted to prosecute a home owner defending his family with a firearm. This issue was “over looked” by this “show”. Another reason pledge drives are run during celtic woman and not the liberal hack job shows like Tavis, Rose , etc..
    Could PBS make it in the real world with out government sponsership?

  • Elmo

    It was a good idea to let Freddie an Fannie ruin the mortgage market? One question pbs won’t ask

  • FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » Washington Post's Sexist TV critic

    [...] of the debut of the PBS show Need to Know. Given the reactions from viewers at the Need to Know website, and those published by PBS ombud Michael Getler, he's not the only one who found the show a [...]

  • Gary Whitlock

    Yes, Elmo, PBS could make it in the “real world”. After all, look where you, yourself, are. In the “real world”, everyone gets government help. PBS also gets help from private sources–not to my liking–has the effect of limiting information not to the liking of the private sources, just as it has in the corporate/mainstream news, which, you will be pleased to note, now includes PBS. Ya gotta love the “real world”.

  • Washington Post’s Sexist TV critic – Fox News Watchdog

    [...] of the debut of the PBS show Need to Know. Given the reactions from viewers at the Need to Know website, and those published by PBS ombud Michael Getler, he’s not the only one who found the show a [...]

  • Roberta

    Thank you to those who recommended Vanguard on I was not aware of this show but after watching several segments online, find myself much encouraged about the future of public affairs journalism. These smart, engaged and fearless young reporters are the true heirs of Bill Moyers and NOW. As for the vapid “Need to Know” on an enfeebled PBS, the less said the better. Thank you to Bill Moyers for putting up the good fight all these years, and for addressing us not as spectators or consumers of information, but as fellow citizens. You will be much missed.

  • Zipporah

    Bill Moyers quoted one of his mentors as saying,”News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.” (Moyers on Democracy, p. 136, a collection of his speeches.) Need to Know is publicity. I’ll give it a few more tries to see if it shapes up, but otherwise it’s not worth watching. Don’t cover so many topics in shallow, don’t interview politicians (if you want any truthful, complex, analytical, worthwhile statements), do listen and ask probing, clarifying questions of guests, do do your homework and be prepared with facts about the topic, do choose topics that really affect most people’s lives right now, do try to bring forth what people want to keep hidden, do follow the money in each story. Bring back NOW–it was worth watching; it presented news, not publicity. I’m a long-time supporter getting more and more fed up with PBS’s programming as it mimics “mainstream” corporate media.





    516 741 4065

  • Martha

    To my liking, your first show was too light. It wasn’t as much the content as the ditsy behavior of Alison. The way she prefaced her question to Mr Clinton about GPS was, frankly, embarassing, as was her adoring looks at her co-host. Please, we want mature, informed, confident interviewers. This was not as good start. I sincerely hope you can ‘grow-up’ and provide us with a serious investigative news program.

  • Billie

    You saved the best part for last – Andy Borowitz was absolutely hilarious.

  • Himay

    The Clinton interview was cringe inducing. The fawning deference and complete lack of any questions that could possibly be uncomfortable for Mister Clinton were shameful. He’s a smart guy, I get it. I appreciate his experience and listen to his opinions with interest, but come on, the interview was substance-less. Nothing new at all; just wide eyed nodding along, no follow up to any question. Pathetic. And that Andy Borowitz segment was completely unfunny. The addition of that lame, inoffensive hack is just part of what’s wrong with this limp effort. And don’t get me started on the piss poor, scripted, stilted banter between the hosts at the end. It’s as if you set out to ape the shittiest trends in corporate news without the slightest effort to do anything different at all. PBS is supposed to be not just for the majority. It’s supposed to be there for programs that might not get mainstream audiences. It’s supposed to contribute something to our national conversation that isn’t being heard on corporate, commercial, ratings driven television. Need To Know is not fulfilling that goal. Meacham is a loser presiding over the slow death of a print magazine, and now he’s taking a hand in wiping PBS clean of any news/issues program of any substance. I don’t blame Alison for the faults of the show; she’s done great work on television elsewhere. The awfulness of this program is just one small part of the greater trend toward babbling, self-congratulatory, useless journalism embarrassing itself trying to be hip and as attention deficit inflicted as New Media can be. Need To Know has managed to make David Brancaccio seem edgy by comparison. Bring on Bill Moyers at least as a consultant to get some decent guests. As sleepy as his own show could be at times, he never failed to draw me in to great conversations with truly interesting people whom I am not seeing or hearing about in the mainstream media. An in-depth, lengthy discussion with Andrew Bacevich? Round table on journalism with Amy Goodman? Ted Olson and David Boies? Ya got me! We don’t need another repackaging of the same old stories in the same old Old Media frames. Try, try, again.

  • Jackie McKay

    I miss Bill.

  • Kevin

    Last segment with Borowitz was great. I’ll watch again.

  • comingtojoinyouelizabeth

    Fluff. Meacham is not a communicator, he is an arrogant bore. And Bill CLinton is going to tell me what we need to know??? oh brother

  • TC

    On the plus side, I won’t need to dose myself with evening coffee on Fridays just so’s to stay conscious past Gwennie Eye-full or our local “gosh-golly-jeepers” statewide public affairs coffee table show; y’know, like i did in “the good ol’ days” up to the end of 4/2010.

  • Bart

    The lack of real facts on the gun control is sad.In the show it was said 30,000 killed by guns.I have many guns and none have jumped up and killed anyone.The fact is a gun is an object,not unlike a car,plane or an brick.If someone wants to hurt they will.(fact) any area with stong gun control laws has the highest crime rate and this is because the people that are disarmed are easy targets.ok think about it (ok)(You are the bad guy) Where are you going to steal your items.Are you going to the area where 90% own guns or an gun free zone like a school.Gun free zones are only safer for the bad guy.

  • Mel


    What’s with the invisible table? Beyond awkward. And it helps to forge an awkward relationship between the show and viewers. Entirely unnecessary. And there’s an easy fix.

    Please make the table appear!

  • Sophie


    The most disheartening part of tonight’s broadcast came toward its end, when Alison Stewart said there were positive responses to the first “Need to Know” show. Spin. Self-serving spin. There may have been some, but there were by far more negative reviews, which were widely reported and some appear here. I have turned into PBS all these years for its lack of spin, for its attempt to convey facts that illustrate the truth, not for its ability to pick a selective fact that serves an agenda and obscures the truth. This segment spoke volumes of the show’s editors, for the show’s lack of integrity as a news program. I will no longer be watching. If they spin their own reviews, widely known to many, what else are they spinning? Trust disintegrated with that statement.

    I regret the thousands of dollars I’ve pledged to PBS, and may soon be requesting my funding back. This is not journalism.

  • John

    Meacham and Stewart are dispensers of conventional wisdom a la Cokie Roberts, E.J. Dionne, Dick Gregory, ad nauseum. What did viewers expect? Bill Moyers’s meticulous research and delivery? Get a grip!

  • Tom

    Pretty good item on open carrying, although the anti-self-protection bias did peek through and it was obvious that the going-in stance was that “guns are bad”. What you missed in all the statistics — thus showing that statistics can prove anything — is that there might be accelerated gun violence in the overall number of homes where guns are present, but that figure includes places where criminals have illegal firearms and where owners are untrained and have passed their naiveness on to their children. Gun carriers, both open and concealed, are adamant about training and safety. Both VCDL and NRA are very particular about users being trained and safe. In order to prove that open carry is “bad” the statistic then would be the percentage of open carriers who have used guns in crimes or accidental discharges that kill or injure themselves or others. The gentleman interviewed in the program seems to have shown his daughter proper handling and safety. Funny too was Mayor Bloomberg who stated it is a states rights issue but has been attempting to send NY gun agents and investigators into VA to investigate supposed violations of law and to attempt straw man purchases.

  • pallist

    Whether “Need to Know” is a good enough replacement for “Moyers’ Journal” & “Now” is irrelevant to me, because “Now” need not be replaced.. Maybe there are some who like the fluff… er.. information this new show offers. But it’s also obvious that David Brancaccio and Maria Hinojosa were doing their job and doing it all too well. No one who watched “Now” wanted it to go off the air, except those who they investigated and offended with their in-depth journalism that made the mistake of looking at corporate crime, government corruption, immigration rights, racism, insurance industry monopolies, media bias, etc., etc., etc…

    I tried to watch this show Friday night and it couldn’t hold my attention beyond 5 minutes. They announced they had a report on Afghanistan? Hmm, a unique idea! Why didn’t the producers/reporters at Now think to do that? I tuned out after 3 minutes. I tuned in again to catch the hosts boast about their “glowing positive reviews” from viewers (obviously they didn’t come to this website) and then respond to one particularly banal and silly criticism with an equally silly response. I didn’t stick around to hear the other stories, but tuned back in at the end to hear the “humor” offered by some guy already predicting his future criticism-inaccurately, IMHO. I couldn’t work up the energy to care. The news team – white graying male, paired with a dark-haired woman of color? How original – I think Now had some sort of similar pairing, but what do I know? PBS’ replacement so far seems an attempt to surface mimic “Now” and/or 60 Minutes, as noted by other commenters, but without anything of substance underneath the gloss. Viewers can’t be fooled by a cream puff diet for long, PBS.

    For those of you who have accepted that there’s nothing we can do, here’s a suggestion. Take a lesson from some of those heroes David and Maria featured on “Now”. Turn off the TV. Stop watching PBS, especially their silly fluff shows. Go to your desk and type or write PBS telling them what you just did, and refuse to financially support them until they supply the public with news we can actually use to make critical, well-informed decisions about our so-called “democratic government” and deal with the real problems facing our society. Take action by forming a local group that demands the return of “Now” or a show with similar critical reporting with an hour-long format. Better still, make your own show (youtube or myspace, among many others allows uploads) about local issues in your area. Find other pieces of Independent media in the meantime to nurture your hunger for real information, like Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. The public, organized and speaking out in large numbers, can affect public TV, public policy, and government. Committed and aware citizens can change the status quo. That was the lesson of “Now” and they reported on people doing this over and over.

    There are independent journalists out there who could use public support and provide the news we need. We need to find them. That’s the power of choice – for the most part we still have it, but we desperately need to exercise it.

  • pallist

    I meant to say (re: prior comment), “find other pieces of Independent media in the meantime to satisfy your hunger for real information” as opposed to “nurture your hunger” – freudian slip, I guess.

  • John

    I’m just going to have to say what everyone is already thinking: At a time of huge federal budget deficits isn’t it time to end PBS’s generous funding? Why should we subsidize cable TV for the few libs who want their values reflected in the media?

    If you want “Need to Know” then you need to pay.

    With all of the choices on cable television nowadays there is absolutely no justification for this kind of corporate media welfare spending that subsidizes fat cats such as Moyers, et al.

    And besides, couldn’t the money larded on frivolous programs such as this be better spent on our precious children teaching them and feeding them and showing them how to protect the planet and end the evil that is capitalism?

  • Melina

    The above comment contains one of the funniest phrases I’ve ever read: “…fat cats such as Moyers…”

    If PBS continues in the redundant vein of “Need to Know,” public funding can no longer be justified.

  • StewartIII

    NewsBusters: PBS’s Borowitz Suggests Palin & Bachmann are Two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  • Jeff

    Gosh darn idiot gun nutters should all be pistol whipped with their whole arsenal. Rambo fantasies are far from reality. Arizonans make it so easy to get and carry a gun then whine our the wazoo when a rancher gets shot. They can’t have it both ways.

  • Barbara Nelson

    Really miss the top rate reporting of the NOW staff and their unique stories. Need to Know looks to much like the news readers.
    Can’t say enough about Bill Moyers. Where will the next generation of journalist reporters learn their trade.

  • Noel

    I am surprised that the lady almost blackmailed Maytag and got away with it. Maybe I am wrong, but is there a possibility of getting into this kind of business or fighting for the truth, expecially in the state of arizona, where employers have a right to treat you as slaves in the 21st century, with the “Work At- Will” doctrine.

    please e-mail me.

  • Sofia







  • De Teodoru

    Tom Gregg, haven’t we terrorized Afghans enough with our SpecOps intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb killers? Haven’t we killed enough Muslims with dumb aimers of our “smart” bombs regularly in error? Back during Vietnam War the magazine THE NATION pointed out that the high school drop out soldier isn’t the best ambassador to represent our desire to help. But then we had universal conscription so college grads were swept up just like high school drop outs. Now high school drop outs predominate as the military scrapes the bottom of the barrel with all sorts of GDE gimmicks. We went through all the 9/11 patriots over this decade of attacking Afghanistan and now we’re bereft of best&brightest– ESPECIALLY IN COMMAND. America imposed the Karzai regime and we’re protecting it as it tells us to screw off whenever we complain about its corruption and heroine exports. American corporations are robbing the war effort blind even more. Right now 15% of our enormous multi-billions $ logistics budget is paid to Taliban as protection money so Taliban don’t need cash from Dubai. Bush spent almost 8 years refusing to allow US troops to provide security to Afghans as Taliban rebuilt itself village by village. Now Obama is using clumsy drones flown from exec chairs in a base in Nevada. Obama is staying in Afghanistan only because back in 2008 he needed to show that he’s not a typical liberal dove in presidential campaign; so he called for more focus on Afghanistan while we abandon Iraq. Yet he put in command the same generals that screwed up in Iraq to screw up IDENTICALLY in Afghanistan.

    Imagine that you go on the operating room for SURGE-ry on your gallbladder and the SURGE-on stupidly makes the incision on your back instead of on your belly. After destroying a kidney and getting tangled in guts he decides to quit. Somehow you survive so he has audacity to demand you that you let him try operating you again because his reputation as a surgeon is at stake. That’s exactly what SURGE-on Petraeus is trying to do in Afghanistan after a screwed-up SURGE-ry in Iraq.

    Thanks to a patriotic soldier and WIKILEAKS we now have a clear picture of what incompetents lead our mom&dad soldiers in war, all on “stop-loss” so they can’t ever finish their constant redeployment. But our “ain’t my kid going to war” disconnected Americans don’t care about soldiers, they just don’t want another American defeat. ‘No one forced them to enlist…they all volunteered,” these “Americans” insist. Yet half the troops are NATIONAL GUARD who volunteered on promise that they’d serve weekends and only if there’s fire, flood or an invasion. How dumb are the “star whore” generals is evident from how much they lie; just about every square of toilet paper in the Pentagon is marked “TOP SECRET” so no one can see how fool of s–t they are. This is how the Roman Empire fell– crummy generals couldn’t think of adapting their tactics to the enemy’s so they lost two legions in the Germanic forests to “barbarians.”


    It’s time for Obama to end the exsanguinations of our mom&dad soldiers, leaving nothing but orphans&widows on the homefornt, forcing America to go broke. Obama failed to bring “CHANGE” to US Gov several times already. He must now CHANGE the SURGE-on and the deadly useless SURGE-ry so Afghans can make their own arrangements through the Shanghai Cooperative Accord for a native regional solution through its members rather than an American one that only serves our corporate cannibals as his economic solutions had.

  • Anonymous

    wow 128 comments, this must be a popular page.