Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 28, 2009


Glenn Garvin, Miami Herald - Of all the second acts in American public life, none has amazed me more than that of Bill Moyers. He spent the first decade of his adult life as one of Lyndon Johnson's dirtiest henchmen. His work on Johnson's vicious 1964 presidential campaign is probably worth an entire book by itself: Moyers helped thwart the seating of an integrated delegation from Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, and asked the FBI to investigate 15 members of the Senate staff of Johnson's opponent, Barry Goldwater. Other low lights include Moyers giving the FBI the okay to spread dirty stories about Martin Luther King's sex life, and his ongoing role spinning fanciful tales about the war in Vietnam as Johnson's press secretary from 1965 to 1967.

Yet somehow none of that has stopped Moyers from posing as the conscience of the American press for most of the past four decades, mostly in various screechy PBS shows. Without any apparent sense of irony, he viciously excoriates the U.S. press for its supposed subservience to the White House on Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror. Amazingly, when Moyers is ranting that the Bush administration fabricated everything about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, nobody ever asks him about the Johnson administration's fantastical account of the imaginary 1964 attack in the Tonkin Gulf that became the excuse for the Vietnam war, an account he helped to construct. Everything about Moyers' years with Johnson has somehow vanished down the memory hole.

Now another load of Moyers' dirty laundry has appeared on the clothesline. The Washington Post published a story based on newly revealed documents that show that the FBI investigated rumors that Johnson aide Jack Valenti (later the head of the Motion Picture Association of America) was gay. The documents also show that Moyers asked the FBI to investigate two other Johnson administration figures who were "suspected as having homosexual tendencies."

Moyers, questioned about the documents by Post reporters, replied that his memory was hazy. Don't worry, Bill; if past history is any indication, pretty soon our memories will be hazy, too.

Indegay Forum - These revelations once again remind us that empathy for the dignity of gay people does not always fall along partisan political lines. Whereas Barry Goldwater, one of the crucial figures in the birth of the conservative movement, could have easily exploited the Jenkins scandal in the presidential campaign, he refused to discuss it. In his memoir Goldwater wrote, "It was a sad time for Jenkins and his family. Winning isn't everything. Some things, like loyalty to friends, or lasting principle, are more important." Goldwater, today remembered by most liberals as a fire-breathing Neanderthal, later became an outspoken opponent of the ban on gays in the military.

Contrast Goldwater's behavior to that of Moyers, who abused his power in office to hunt down and expose the gays in his midst. . . To be sure, Moyers's behavior at the time took place within a social milieu far more repressive than today's. It wasn't until 1973, after all, that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. Gays were banned from working in the federal civil service until 1975. And gays were barred from having security clearances, amazingly, until 1995. That Moyers engaged in Nixonian dirty tricks with the aim of embarrassing and ruining the careers of gay people, while despicable, was something that many officials in his position probably would have done, given the mores of the era.

But what makes Moyers's contemptible behavior relevant is that even to this day he has yet to acknowledge wrongdoing, never mind apologize. That Moyers has since become a supporter of gay rights is irrelevant. . .


Blogger Raybo said...

How is this relevant? Don't you forgive him for his past sins? AFIK, he owes nothing.

March 1, 2009 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Justice said...

I once tried to provide counterpoint to some emotive irrationality of a libertarian on Moyer's blog at PBS. I was only using logic and rational, civil arguments. While I violated none of the rules on comments posts and did not disrespect the other person, that person repeatedly, ad nauseum, violated the rules at will and engaged in childish name-calling, silly personal attacks, etc. He treated all rebuttals of his arguments made by anyone the same, and was rude as possible to the whole board.

My posts began to be deleted by Moyers or his moderators and the libertarian was allowed complete free reign. This continued even after other posters spoke up to agree my posts violated no rules of the blog or of civil behavior while the lib did little else.

In order to post there you have to fill in that "capcha" box that proves you are a human, not a computer generating spam.

The last post I made, the capcha "code" I had to copy was: my name plus the words "new bomb suspect".

When I wrote to the staff and asked for some explanation, all I got was denial it could have happened and then a "we don't control that". No explanation why the lib was free to make mockery of all rules.

I'll never trust Mr. Bilderberger Moyers and I'll never return to his blog. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Bill Moyers is NOT who people think he is.

He is just another left gatekeeper, and I have no use for pretenders.

March 1, 2009 6:48 AM  
Blogger BuelahMan said...

What justice says may be true. Its his personal story and even if true, I doubt he would be totally up front about his attitude.

Nevertheless, (and I don't watch much TV) find a better Progressive voice and point him out to me.

Otherwise, he is the best that is visible at this point in time (Olbermann is a shill for Big Money and the Dem party).

At least I would rather have someone against the Big two Parties.

Of course, no one deserves forgiveness for their "sins", right, justice?

I bet if we really knew you, you wouldn't say such stuff. The anonymoty of this medium makes it easy to claim anything about oneself.

March 1, 2009 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Justice said...

BuelahMan, I'm sorry to say there were plenty of witnesses and that story is tragically true. Americans are being lied to on all fronts, but to me it is especially despicable when people who violate their own purported scruples get undeserved good reputations. Moyer's ego is betrayed by a little button you can click that locates "FANS OF Moyers".

Truthtellers are not looking for fanclubs while selectively suppressing civil discourse and selectively enforcing their own rules.

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off royally."

March 1, 2009 10:24 AM  
Anonymous robbie said...

I can think of no other voice in mainstream media that I have any faith or trust in. Let's hope his progressive view towards current affairs makes up for his past transgressions. Still, I'd rather not throw him under the bus given that there are literally no other voices like his in the MSM.

March 1, 2009 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article makes many accusations without offering substantive evidence, and as is so often in the case today, it uses all kinds of words designed to push the emotion button. Words such as "vicious," "posing," etc. The articles comes off as merely an attempt to impugn Bill Moyers. Makes one wonder why?

Nor is it "irrelevant" that he is now a supporter of gay rights. The capacity of humans to change and alter opinions is what allows cultural progress. It is in no way irrelevant.

The article, is in my opinion, irrelevant!

March 1, 2009 6:59 PM  
Anonymous frizzled said...

Actually, this is why it's open season on Moyers: he dared to speak out against the Israeli slaughter of 400 children in Gaza, and now the Israel sympathizers in the media are piling up to smear Moyers.

First Bill Kristol smeared Moyers in the NYT, then Dershowitz. Then the Wall St Journal and Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. And Commentary. And Slate.

This is how the Israel lobby works: they intimidate, smear, harass and attempt to destroy anyone who speaks out against their agenda - even Jimmy Carter.

March 1, 2009 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks frizzled for the information. Didn't know about the articles by the odious Messrs Kristol, Dershowitz, and Goldberg. It is all too clear now. I'll enjoy reading the predictable 'the world's anti-semitic posts."

March 2, 2009 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Justice said...

Don't throw everybody under one tent like there is no disagreement among people who would criticize Moyers. I've nothing to do with the Israeli lobby. Being critical of Bill Moyers due to my very negative personal experience of him does not mean I support what the State of Israel is doing to the Palestinians. As far as I'm concerned the leadership of Israel has gone as mad as US (and many other countries') leadership, and it's tragic to see them taking their state right down the same road that led to people in ovens.

I don't know how to stop that horror in Gaza - I don't see how Israel can ever be both a Jewish state and a democratic state - I think Israel MUST stop dropping bombs EVEN if they still experience rockets coming over the wall for awhile longer.

So it ISN'T just the Israel lobby that can be critical and suspicious of Moyers - ok?

If Bill Moyers really was who people think he is, he would have been as concerned as I was about that capcha: "new bomb suspect" appearing on his site. I was shocked when it came up, precisely because it was so utterly and suddenly different from all the other capcha codes that had been coming before it.

Believe what you want to believe. I know what I experienced.

March 2, 2009 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding a pitch for a show about the "new science" regarding evolution -- I was told by the executive producer of Bill Moyers' show, his wife, that they would not be back on the air after March 2009 and that the remaining shows were already scheduled. She referred me to the producers of NOW who had no idea where to begin to educate the public about the "new science" in evolution. So much for the effectiveness of publicly funded television today.

March 2, 2009 10:23 AM  
Anonymous m said...

Moyers is not perfect! My God. The earth will now become a puddle of mud.

People change. Some of us actually become more than we were, than when we were young and foolish. We come to understand more about the world.

So Moyers asks questions. We need more questions. If there is any crime here, it is because of a lack of questions. And we need more answers. Many more answers.

March 6, 2009 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to trust someone who helped perpetrate the fraud known as the Warren Commission, which covered up the coup d'etat against President Kennedy.


It would be nice to hear an apology for that ... since a lot of the crises of the past few decades are in many ways linked to the coup in Dallas. That is an untouchable topic for "public" television and National "Public" Radio.

Sure, Moyers is the most "radical" on PBS, but that says more about PBS than it does about Moyers.

If PBS ever covers the decades of elite planning for the environmental / energy crises - which ignored LOTS of warnings to shift course - then, I'd be impressed. Or perhaps they could investigate why the intelligence agencies were running a "plane into building" exercise in Virginia while 9/11 was unfolding (a story the CIA itself gave to the Associated Press in 2002 -- not to be confused with the mix of real and false claimed marketed as "9/11 Truth").

I wonder how many people will just stop watching any TV when "digital TV" arrives and lots of older TVs go silent. It won't be missed.

March 9, 2009 6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The critiques offered by Moyers are like Newtonian physics - useful within certain parameters, but unlikely to explain how the universe works.

From the Nixon tapes

Nixon "Do you think we want to go this route now? Let it hang out?"
John Dean "Well, it isn't really that."
Haldeman "It's a limited hang-out."
Ehrlichman "It's a modified, limited, hang-out."

March 9, 2009 6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ, I kept waiting for something recent. New docs about 40 years ago. BFD.

Isn't it just possible that maybe after Moyers left government he decided to do something better with his life? And that 40 years of excellent journalism is the result?

What the heck? Did he kill your puppy 40 years ago and you still haven't gotten over it?

March 15, 2009 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you've ever heard Moyers rant about how all the world's troubles can be traced to religious persons, you'd find it hard to take much else he says seriously. It's puzzling to me that Moyers finds no difference between, say my sainted grandmother who treated everyone lovingly regardless of their treatment of her, and the charlatan buffoons who use religion to become wealthy and to suppress anyone else's freedom who might be a threat to their scam.

March 17, 2009 7:11 PM  

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