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tv   [untitled]    November 25, 2011 11:00pm-11:30pm EST

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hello i'm tom are going to washington d.c. here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture tonight we have a special conversations with great minds compilation show we begin with another look at my interview with bill moyers last spring the legendary journalist is an icon in american broadcasting and has had a significant impact on this country's political landscape and our conversation he shares his insights on the current state of the media in the united states and why our media has a responsibility to bring attention to the grassroots efforts of ordinary citizens
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to protect the interests of the middle class so here's another look at our conversations of great minds with bill moyers. for today's conversations in the great minds i'm joined by an icon of television journalism as resume includes being a founding organizer of the peace corps a press secretary for president lyndon johnson decades of reporting for both print and television outlets the most famous project was bill moyers journal weekly television show that was one of the highest rated public affairs programs around public television in two thousand and seven and two thousand and ten as many as two million viewers tuned in to hear what he had to say every single week and his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed as a recipient of more than thirty emmy awards and nine peabody awards as well as a slew of other honors and this month he released his latest book bill moyers
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journal the conversation continues. because when he has something to say to listen that's why i am honored to be joined from new york tonight by none other than bill moyers bill welcome but. my pleasure kind of imagine being anywhere else right now . that's very kind of you you're one of those rare people who have impacted both media and politics it's a remarkable life that you. wish journey of you it's have a smiley a week or so ago you said television isn't rural enough what did you mean by that and how and why did the word liberal a word that george washington was so fond of become a sort of. well i'd actually didn't use the word liberal somebody interpreted what i said to call for television to be public broadcasting to be more liberal with probably a logical conclusion what i said was that we need a greater diversity of voices and television including public television we have
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far too many establishment voices elite voices the voices of elite journalists to lead experts we don't have enough forces that come outside from outside of the senses because the consensus is a real change ideas come from the margins and and press all of us to reconsider our conventional wisdom and what i was saying is we need fewer voices of corporate representatives move voices of working people we need fewer abortions of elite journalism and with voices of citizen journalists and if that's a liberal then i plead guilty because that means we're open to diversity of opinion conflicts of ideas and to the great plurality of put in the public dialogue that's what i mean but. there are many economists for example talk with james k. galbraith two weeks ago on this program who was interviewed in your new book who
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are a prince has some mistake about the economic future of this country. because the fundamentals economic fundamentals haven't shifted back to where they were before the reagan revolution if you agree with that thesis to what extent do you think that the media has played a role in turning politics into sports and keeping the public on. that politics has become a sport is because. crews through the media like to be entertained amuse they like the blood and gore as the romans did in the coliseum and no there's very little serious alternative economic information in the mainstream media you know we have lost seven million jobs since two thousand and eight since the great collapse of two thousand and eight and james galbraith talks about this very vividly and in the new book as you said seven million jobs what is washington debating right now what's the mainstream. is the mainstream media holding up to that debate they're
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debating deficits they're debating interest they're debating issues that have nothing to do with people who are out there who are out of work who are chronically unemployed who are struggling to keep their head above water that's why the carnival aspect of of the press is a great travesty and what we need to be talking about in this country apropos of that when when you started your career most of the news media americans consume from t.v. to newspapers magazines radio were locally owned by thousands of companies and individuals and now as ben bag has chronicled in his book and the various editions of his books actually are that book the media monopoly over the last decade or two with about ninety percent of all the news media now that americans consume is owned or created by five giant corporations what are your observations on those years of transition and your thoughts on where we'll go from here. where were you go from here depends upon the public supporting alternative independent journalists like
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thank you tom hartman if i may be. frank of the kind of work that i have done on public broadcasting. corporate journalists tend to be. tend to be tethered to the value system of the corporations they serve and that's really the perpetuate the old power we've seen as you said an enormous concentration of media power in the last twenty five years in particular and as that is happened as corporations have come to have vested interest in the washington and washington politics subsidies tax breaks special favors the journalists have tended not consciously but unconsciously to buy into those values and to assume a way to to censor themselves so that they're not really telling the story and look at what n.b.c. did not do when n.b.c. when g.e. sold in b.c. to contest it was very little coverage of this new merger of two corporate elias
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own in d.c. that's an example of how the media censors itself in response to the perceived values of the corporate giants they work for and it has meant that more and more they try to entertain as the biggest change i think in the press in my time has been to look out and see a country of consumers not a country of citizens you can tell a lot about a producer a journalist correspondent an editor if you think he or she sees an audience of consumers out there to be sold something. an audience of citizens to be informed and the big change in my has been to shift the media's attention the media's focus from a society of. citizens to a society of consumers in for taman problem as it were you you in your book one of the questions that you often ask yes i've knows this over the years is how
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they reacted to that and i'm curious how you've reacted to this change over the years and for example have you ever looked at the state of the nation or its media and felt despair or are these challenges and changes actually invigorating g.-d. you see them as it's as you know. a sort of take up or whatever the appropriate metaphor. i try to resist. the disease of despair but i can understand why so many people feel so many people feel despair at the moment our it's our democracy is dysfunctional we no longer have a government of by and for the people representative democracy we have government by plutocracy who talk rowsley means the rule of the rich for the rich by the rich and that's what we have from clark we see has one purpose which is to protect wealth and that's what we're seeing in the supreme court about which you've written so eloquently over the years and that's what we're seeing in our democracy i don't
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feel despair because i can't i can't function if i do i practice what what the italian political scientists graham ski call the pessimism of the month and the optimism of the will by that he may you see the world as it is and we journalists have to see the world without rose colored glasses we have to see the reality no matter how brutal it is but at the same time if you succumb to that through bad pessimism the nothing good ever happens so i wake up every morning trying to imagine a more confident future and been trying that day to do something about it that's what keeps me that's my the despair and cynicism taught. the message of my book is that democracy is in trouble democracy in america has been a series of narrow scapes and we may be running out of luck because as i said
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representative government is threatened at this moment by wealth power and corporate conglomerated interest but we can't give up the great progressive reformer of the last of the early part of the last if you rob a product said that the mockery see is a life of struggle and frederick douglass said power never concedes anything without a struggle so each of us in our own way every day have to do something to fight the propaganda this is still a mentality and the pornography of politics do you. do you just said that basically this is no longer a democracy it's a quick talk r.c. it seems to me that we're not fully into that new frame but we're awful awful close to it hollow would you propose or what have you seen as viable ways to break the motion in that direction toward total basically oligarchy in the united
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states. and grow they expect it of ours. i think just as we witness an arab uprising in the middle east we need an american uprising we saw a hint of it in wisconsin in opposition to the right wing idiology being imposed by the state legislature governed by by conservatives and it and iraq government and we saw people standing up and and demanding more dignity and and the protection of their interests against the power of that state and all over the country i see examples of it i just met yesterday with a wonderful woman dhamma smith who works for the california nurses association who are fighting for medicare for all she has given up she was on her way from new york to washington to take part in a public peaceful nonviolent protest against the health interests that are still
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trying to undermine the reform the health reform of last year there's a remarkable young man you should have on your show. twenty three years old from mississippi unemployed journalists who are year out of morehouse has decided that now he can't just sit by and do four jobs trying to make ends meet he's out now organizing what's called us uncut to to lobby the government and the banks for the banks to pay their fair share of taxes all over the country they get no mainstream media they get no mainstream a tip no no attention from the mainstream media but all over the country people of fighting standing up we just have to make sure they get they get some some of the the attention that they deserve from the media that's the only thing i know organized people is the only answer to organize money so you got to look around for the group that's working in the interest that that you think are important for the public good in this country join it and get up tomorrow morning and make
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a fight of it but the. we've we've had the fellow from us on and the d.c. representative actually on the program a couple of times and i've had them on the world years as well great great and they're based on the uncut movement that started in the u.k. which was you know their cots the camera the administration's bring it in and in the u.k. that actually gets a lot of publicity because the because of the b.b.c. and what not. yet either this morning or yesterday's front page of the washington post was this giant photo of as i recall it was spain and those like hundreds of thousands of people protesting the cuts that they're talking about these i.m.f. austerity cuts and things that may be coming down the road and yet there was no story it was just a pretty thought oh. how how is it that europe has vibrant journalism and we have infotainment. i don't nobody has to question except that there's
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a very kind of independent journalism in in europe it hasn't been corporate it has been all by huge conglomerations i mean some of it exists of course but there's also a tradition since world war two of europeans fighting for social democracy for a civil society that looks after the interest and values of working people but we don't have in this country for thirty years in america since the reagan administration there's been a steady right wing corporate right wing a small hole in the work on the rights of working people you know there's a story in the times the other day about manufacturing jobs coming back to the midwest in this country but the jobs that are being created or pay one third what the jobs that were sent overseas pay so they have that history of this are our press loves to set when it's abroad but if you but they don't like to sit at home
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they were made uncomfortable about it by the mainstream press because if that this sense succeeds it's a threat threat to the corporations for whom they work and to the relationship between the corporate and the corporate powers in the state powers that represent this this sort of tacit consensual seduction that is going all over this country of the rights and interests of working people very well said we're going to take a quick break and when we come back i'd like to get into. some of the back to the sixty's for a moment if we could and some more of the things that are in your book and continue our conversations of the great minds of award winning journalist bill moyers after the break. drives the fear mongering used by politicians who makes decisions it's time to break through it through a maid who can you trust no one will. it's human view with the global machinery to
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see where we had a state controlled capitalism is called sackfuls when nobody dares to ask we do our t. question more. all of our conversations with great minds i'm speaking with an american icon bill moyers as latest book is titled bill moyers journal the conversation continues
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a bill welcome back to you you helped create the peace corps in one nine hundred sixty one i'm wondering what that time was like and what did you and your compatriots have in mind for that institution and its impact on america in the world and further what might we learn now from those pretty heady times back then i remember the sixty's as a any time anyway. well the early part of the sixty's was a time of great idealism it was permissible to be idealistic that's when the civil rights movement in the south begin with the freedom riders of fifty years ago this very year began to really awaken the conscience of the country to what had been the brutal treatment for so long of of black americans i also want to own another front in another part of the country there was this beginning to believe that there was a moral alternative to war and that you to serve your country you didn't have to
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put on a uniform and go off and kill somebody you could actually go out in the peace corps and live in the neighborhoods in the villages of the world's emerging countries and provide a human service of personal contact representing america in the most basic delivery of of service and so i remember standing in in the cold on january twenty first of the one thousand nine hundred eighty one listening to john f. kennedy whose campaign i had served him listening to the new president the newly inaugurated president make that famous summons i asked not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country and feeling that i want it to be a part of a movement that expressed the affirmative side of the american experience so i found they go my way to work for the peace corps i was one of the founding organizers as you said became its deputy director and our mission was to show americans that there was
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a new way of being in the world but in effect you had two passports one stamped united states citizen and the other stamped citizen of the world that was the the mission of the peace corps it is still important today to remember with humility and with gratitude that that there's a different way from being in the in the world as an american in straggler. the big stick that it's possible to live side by side with the world share and grow together toward a more understanding a greater understanding of each other you say that was the mission of the peace corps what. what has changed and when did it change when did that stop being the way that we saw ourselves as americans and and project ourselves out into the world . i think the more militaristic our foreign policy has become over the years and
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you know we've had almost no year without with real peace in the world in the last twenty five years old always been some military action of one kind or another with the increasing militarization of american society and particularly with the trav it's a tragedy of nine eleven we tended not to think of target is to mash and security being being the peace corps and. economic development and person to person relationships like the peace corps represented and tend to think of it through you know surveillance all the methods in the military the the special forces and all of it that we have been fighting two wars for ten years after nine eleven the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives abroad of american soldiers and trillions of dollars and in that kind of violent world in which huge forces of military forces or lose
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it's hard to think of one o one relationships between american citizens going abroad in the peace corps and the budget of the peace corps has been consistently cut because it doesn't have the aura that it once did i've seen a lot of peace corps volunteers in the last few years they still are doing a terrific job out there representing the essential american bad years of friendship and openness and collaboration so it's still there thank goodness it hasn't disappeared even though there are far fewer problems cheers and there were even twenty years ago we moving a little farther into the sixty's you were lyndon johnson's press secretary is from sixty five to sixty seven in the white house and if the reports that i've read are correct in october of sixty seven he told an audience in cambridge that lyndon johnson saw the war in vietnam as his major legacy and as
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a result was insisting on victory at all costs even in the face of public opposition in your opinion is president obama now doing the same thing in afghanistan. well i think he's made the same mistake than johnson made in thinking that by escalating the number of troops he could find they both them and they triumphed there the tragedy of the american presidency is that as we go to war and every life that's lost every ounce of blood that still the president because more and more invested in quote victory because you don't want to you know want to have to send a message to the parents of those bitter women who died there that it was in vain so that's the paradox of escalation which is you admit you're bound to have more casualties and those casualties are almost bound to cause you to resolve further to win the victory that is usually elusive you know the great another great tragedy of the american presidency particularly a progressive presidency is that this is
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a continuing cycle woodrow wilson elected in one nine hundred twelve as a very progressive. politician within two years was within a few years was taking us to war and in europe dr franklin roosevelt dr when the dr new deal became franklin roosevelt dr when the war after world war two happened harry truman a lot of progressive president. wound up taking us to war in korea and his domestic programs were consumed by by by the war and then johnson sitting on my first job was not his press secretary i was responsible for much of the domestic policy civil rights environmental message economic policy and all of that and suddenly with the escalation of the war in vietnam in one thousand nine hundred eighty five i saw all those hopeful possibilities consumed by about
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by the growing ravenous may ends of the military for more and more money and more more and. roups and i saw all our hopes for bringing about a great society disappeared of the quagmire of vietnam it was a very sad time of grave and costly for those who lost their lives with americans and vietnam the enemies but it also represented a turning away from the possibilities of building a better society whole. if. very well said if we could move back. to the media for a second you are the bush appointed kenneth thomas as the chairman of the corporation for public broadcasting and apparently he was a regular critic of you on p.b.s. you said there are times when i was threatened by radio stations to tone it down in european are we and actually not even we is is the corporation for public
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broadcasting in general moving away from programming in a public interest. well i don't see any evidence of that yet the school there you know there are good republicans and there are dangerous republicans because there are good democrats and and bad him a christian the president president of the corporation for public broadcasting pat harrison is a public minded public spirited republican and i think she is really trying to fulfill. broadcasting's mission of greater diversity more service of. the public interest trying to protect the independence of public broadcasting her predecessor kind of thomas who was a right wing operative he was a logical kindred spirit of karl rove and i never will forget the day that one of the trustees of the corporation for public broadcasting called me. and said i just heard kenneth tomlinson who was then the chairman of the corporation for public
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broadcasting say i'm here to get rid of bill moyers that's that's not what pat harrison would do and i don't know or i just happen to have much of a track record and think she is doing a good job but tom this is an old story in the nikkei early nine hundred seventy s. president nixon and his and his his a propagandist pat buchanan tried to undermine public broadcasting to. to get me off the air try to get robert macneil off the air try to get sandy britt ochre off the air not because we were liberals but because we were reporting what they didn't want reported alternative to the official white house next only in view of reality robert doe who was then senator from kansas and senate minority leader tried in the late one nine hundred eighty s. to defund public broadcasting then along comes newt gingrich the late newt gingrich
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in one nine hundred ninety three and for trying to defund public broadcasting and then you had george w. bush and kill the thomas and his henchmen and the corporation for public broadcasting trying to do the same first of all they don't believe in public funding of of media as a matter of principle but secondly more importantly they do not believe there should be truth tellers who are countering the official view they do not like independent journalism let me repeat that is not true of the present president of the corporation for public broadcasting or the present president of p.b.s. paula kerger i believe they are committed to public television in the interest of the uninformed american public unfortunately for seven straight years public broadcasting's probably television's gravity has been flat and the greatest
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challenge facing public television at the moment is in fact the minute she resources to do the kind of quality reporting and the kind of a great program me that the american people deserve. bill moyers thanks so much for being with us here it's a bit of the lawyers keep it up to. voice out there in the independent world of broadcasting thank you thanks very much for. let's not forget that we had an apartheid regime right here.
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i think the bombing is even funny well. whenever the government says they are into safe get ready because their freedom. some leisure see a story and it seems so sorely sleep you think you understand it in any blimp something else you hear or see some other part of it and realize that everything is a. chart of the big picture.


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