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Billy Don "Bill" Moyers (born June 5, 1934) is an Americanmarker journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United Statesmarker President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965 to 1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers has had an extensive involvement with public television, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and honorary degrees. He has become well known as a trenchant critic of the U.S. media. Since 1990, Moyers has been President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy. He lives in New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker, United States.


Early years and education

Born in Hugomarker, Oklahomamarker, to father John Henry Moyers, a laborer, and mother Ruby Moyers (née Johnson), he was raised in Texasmarker.

He began his journalism career at the age of sixteen as a cub reporter at the Marshall News Messenger in Marshallmarker, Texas. Moyers studied journalism at the University of North Texasmarker, Dentonmarker, Texas. In 1954, he worked as a summer intern for then U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, eventually being in charge of Johnson's personal mail before his internship was finished. Moyers soon transferred to the University of Texas at Austinmarker, Austinmarker, Texas, where he wrote for The Daily Texan newspaper, and graduated in 1956 with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. While in Austin, Moyers worked as an assistant to the news editor for KTBCmarker radio and television stations owned by Lady Bird Johnson, wife of then U.S. Senator Johnson. During the academic year 1956–1957, he studied at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburghmarker, Scotlandmarker, United Kingdommarker, as a Rotary International Fellow. In 1959, he received a bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worthmarker, Texas. While at SWBTS, Moyers worked in the public relations office with Bill P. Keith, later a Texas author and a former member of the Louisiana State Senate.

Moyers was ordained two years later after working as a minister. Moyers planned to enter a doctor of philosophy program with the University of Texas System and briefly accepted a lectureship in Christian ethics at Baylor Universitymarker, Wacomarker, Texas. During Senator Johnson's unsuccessful bid for the 1960 Democratic U.S. presidential nomination, Moyers served as a top aide, and in the general campaign he acted as liaison between Democratic vice-presidential candidate Johnson and the Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy and Johnson Administrations

During the Kennedy Administration, Moyers was first appointed as associate director of public affairs for the newly created Peace Corps in 1961. He served as Deputy Director from 1962 to 1963. When Lyndon B. Johnson took office after the Kennedy assassinationmarker, Moyers became a special assistant to Johnson, serving from 1963 to 1967. He played a key role in organizing and supervising the 1964 Great Society legislative task forces and was a principal architect of Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign. Moyers acted as the President's informal chief of staff from October 1964 until 1966. From July 1965 to February 1967, he also served as White House press secretary.

After the resignation of Walter Jenkins because of a sexual misdemeanour in the runup to the 1964 election, President Lyndon B. Johnson, alarmed that the opposition was framing the issue as a security breach, ordered Moyers to request FBI name checks on 15 members of Goldwater's staff to find "derogatory" material on their personal lives. Goldwater himself only referred to the Jenkins incident off the record. The Church Committee stated in 1975 that "Moyers has publicly recounted his role in the incident, and his account is confirmed by FBI documents." In 2005, Laurence Silberman claimed that Moyers denied writing the memo in a 1975 phone call. Moyers said he had a different recollection of the telephone conversation.

Moyers, acting for Johnson, also sought information from the FBI on the sexual preferences of White House staff members, most notably Jack Valenti.Moyers indicated his memory was unclear on why Johnson directed him to request such information, "but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover."

Journalist Morley Safer said that Moyers and President Johnson met with and "harangued" Safer's boss, CBS president Frank Stanton, about Safer's coverage of the behaviour of U.S. troops in Vietnam (Safer had filmed them burning down a village). During the meeting, Safer alleges, Johnson threatened to expose Safer's "communist ties". This was a bluff, according to Safer. Safer says that Moyers was "if not a key player, certainly a key bystander" in the incident. Moyers stated that his hard-hitting coverage of conservative presidents Reagan and Bush were behind Safer's allegations.

In The New York Times on April 3, 1966, Moyers offered this insight on his stint as press secretary to President Johnson: "I work for him despite his faults and he lets me work for him despite my deficiencies." The details of his rift with Johnson have not been made public but may be discussed in a forthcoming memoir.



His journalistic career began in earnest when he served as publisher for the Long Island, New Yorkmarker, daily newspaper Newsday from 1967 to 1970. Moyers left when the paper was fully acquired by the Times-Mirror Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

PBS — Bill Moyers Journal

In 1971 he began working for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), hosting a news program called Bill Moyers' Journal, which ran until 1981 with a hiatus from 1976 to 1977.

CBS News

In 1976 he moved to CBS, where he worked as editor and chief correspondent for CBS Reports until 1980, then as senior news analyst and commentator for the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather from 1981 to 1986. He was the last regular commentator for the network broadcast. During his last year at CBS, Moyers made public statements about declining news standards at the network and declined to renew his contract with CBS, citing commitments with PBS.

The Power of Myth series

In 1986 Moyers and his wife, Judith Davidson Moyers, formed Public Affairs Television. Among their first productions was the popular PBS 1988 documentary series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, consisting of six one-hour interviews between Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell. The documentary covers Campbell's exploration of the monomyth and the hero cycle, or the story of the hero, as it manifests itself in various cultures. Campbell's influence is clearly seen in the work of George Lucas's Star Wars saga. In the first interview, filmed at George Lucas' "Skywalker Ranchmarker," Moyers and Campbell discuss the relationship between Campbell's theories and Lucas's creative work. Twelve years after the making of The Power of Myth, Moyers and Lucas met again for the 1999 interview, the Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers, to further discuss the impact of Campbell's work on Lucas's films.

NBC News

Moyers briefly joined NBC News in 1995 as a senior analyst and commentator, and the following year he became the first host of sister cable network MSNBC's Insight program. He was the last regular commentator on the NBC Nightly News.


The latest of Moyers's PBS programs are available for viewing online at

NOW with Bill Moyers
Moyers hosted the TV news journal NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS for three years. He retired from the program on December 17, 2004, but returned to PBS soon after to host Wide Angle in 2005. When he left NOW, he announced that he wished to finish writing a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason
In 2006 he presented two public television series. Faith and Reason, a series of conversations with esteemed writers of various faiths and of no faith, explored the question "In a world in which religion is poison to some and salvation to others, how do we live together?"

Bill Moyers on America
The other recent series, Moyers on America, analyzed in depth the ramifications of three important issues: the Jack Abramoff scandal ( "Capitol Crimes"), evangelical religion and environmentalism ( "Is God Green?"), and threats to open public access of the Internet ( "The Net at Risk").

Bill Moyers Journal
On April 25, 2007, Moyers returned to PBS with Bill Moyers Journal. The first episode, entitled "Buying the War", had Moyers investigating the general media's shortcomings in the runup to the War in Iraq.

On February 12, 2007 , Moyers wrote “Discovering What Democracy Means.” Moyers disclosed the significance of cultural education. His critics responded by saying that there is no economic benefit. But people can become empowered through understanding how exploitation works. Moyers stated, “Some members of congress realized that we were talking not only about how to improve our lives as individuals but how to nurture a flourishing democracy.” Politicians would be able to handle decisionmaking more effectively with a cultural education, and if they stop focusing on the economic gain. Moyers also says citizens need to raise a higher consciousness for their “inner tutor”. Citizens must distinguish real life from make-believe: for instance, many of the shows that are aired on networks are packaged together to make viewers believe that they are real life.

On November 20, 2009, Moyers announced that he would be retiring from his weekly show on April 30, 2010.


Recipient of the 2006 Lifetime Emmy Award, "Bill Moyers has devoted his lifetime to the exploration of the major issues and ideas of our time and our country, giving television viewers an informed perspective on political and societal concerns," according to the official announcement, which also noted that "the scope of and quality of his broadcasts have been honored time and again. It is fitting that the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honor him with our highest honor—the Lifetime Achievement Award." He has received well over thirty Emmys and virtually every other major television journalism prize, including a gold baton from the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a lifetime Peabody Award, and a George Polk Career Award (his third George Polk Award) for contributions to journalistic integrity and investigative reporting. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including a doctorate from the American Film Institute.


Regarding the U.S. media

On the media and class warfare

In a 2003 interview with,Moyers said, "The corporate right and the political right declared class warfare on working people a quarter of a century ago and they've won." He noted, "The rich are getting richer, which arguably wouldn't matter if the rising tide lifted all boats." Instead, however, "[t]he inequality gap is the widest it's been since 1929; the middle class is besieged and the working poor are barely keeping their heads above water." He added that as "the corporate and governing elites are helping themselves to the spoils of victory," access to political power has become "who gets what and who pays for it."

Meanwhile, the public has failed to react because it is, in his words, "distracted by the media circus and news has been neutered or politicized for partisan purposes." In support of this, he referred to "the paradox of Rush Limbaugh, ensconced in a Palm Beachmarker mansion massaging the resentments across the country of white-knuckled wage earners, who are barely making ends meet in no small part because of the corporate and ideological forces for whom Rush has been a hero.... As Eric Alterman reports in his recent book—a book that I'm proud to have helped make happen—part of the red meat strategy is to attack mainstream media relentlessly, knowing that if the press is effectively intimidated, either by the accusation of liberal bias or by a reporter's own mistaken belief in the charge's validity, the institutions that conservatives revere—corporate America, the military, organized religion, and their own ideological bastions of influence—will be able to escape scrutiny and increase their influence over American public life with relatively no challenge."

On media bias

When he retired in December 2004, the AP News Service quoted Moyers as saying, "I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

On Karl Rove and U.S. politics

During his speech at the "Take Back America" conference, Moyers defined what he considered to be Karl Rove's influence on George W. Bush's administration. Moyers asserted that, from his reading of Rove, the mid to late 1800s were to Rove a "cherished period of American history." He further states, "From his own public comments and my reading of the record, it is apparent that Karl Rove has modeled the Bush presidency on that of William McKinley...and modeled himself on Mark Hanna, the man who virtually manufactured McKinley."

He stipulated that Hanna's primary "passion" was attending to corporate and imperial power.

Furthermore, Moyers indicates that Hanna gathered support for McKinley's presidential campaign from "the corporate interests of the day" and was responsible for Ohio and Washington coming under the rule of "bankers, railroads and public utility corporations." He submitted that political opponents of this transfer of power were "smeared as disturbers of the peace, socialists, anarchists, or worse."

Lastly, he refers to what historian Clinton Rossiter called the period of "the great train robbery of American intellectual history," when "conservatives—or better, pro-corporate apologists" began using terms such as "progress", "opportunity", and "individualism" in order to make "the plunder of America sound like divine right." He added that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was also used by conservative politicians, judges, and publicists to justify the idea of a "natural order of things" as well as "the notion that progress resulted from the elimination of the weak and the 'survival of the fittest.'"

He concludes, "This 'degenerate and unlovely age', as one historian calls it, exists in the mind of Karl Rove, the reputed brain of George W. Bush, as the seminal age of inspiration for the politics and governance of America today."

During coverage of the 2004 presidential election, Moyers stated, "I think that if Kerry were to win this in a tight race, I think that there would be an effort to mount a coup, quite frankly. I mean that the right wing is not going to accept it."

On August 16, 2007, Bill Moyers, in response to Karl Rove’s announcement of his resignation from the White House, called into question Rove’s belief in God when he stated that Rove was a secular skeptic and agnostic who had manipulated the Christian right for partisian purposes and made the comment that “. . .on his last play of the game all Karl Rove had to offer them (the Christian right) was a Hail Mary pass, while telling himself there’s no one there to catch it.""The next day, Rove made a previously scheduled appearance on Fox with Chris Wallace and when asked about Moyer’s comments, Rove said Moyers had relied on a blogger at the San Antonio Express for his source, and said, “And he (Moyers) took a comment where I acknowledged my shortcomings in living up to the beliefs of my faith . . .and somehow or another he (Moyers) goes from taking it from me being an Episcopalian wishing I was a better Christian to somehow making me into an agnostic. You know, Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander.”

Presidential draft initiative

In late 2005 an attempt was begun to draft Moyers for a 2008 run at the Democratic Presidential nomination. The founder of this initiative, Scott Beckman, circulated an article on the Internet entitled You Are Not Alone, laying out his reasoning and establishing a website. Although the effort was popular on the Internet, it was not supported by Moyers, who, according to his attorneys, would "not under any circumstances" run for President. The petition drove to gain 100,000 signatures by the end of the year, but it garnered less than one percent the few months it was in operation. The website was taken down at Moyers's request, but on July 24, 2006, political commentator Molly Ivins published an article entitled Run Bill Moyers for President, Seriously on the progressive website Truthdig. A follow-up was published two days later by John Nichols on his blog on The Nation magazine's website. However, this effort too failed to garner the extensive grassroots support envisioned. Then in October 2006 an article was published on Common Dreams NewsCenter by Ralph Nader in which he supported the Moyers candidacy. "With his deep sense of history relating to the great economic struggles in American history between workers and large companies and industries," Nader added, "Moyers today is a leading spokesman on the need to deconcentrate the manifold concentrations of political and economic power by global corporations. He is especially keen on doing something about media concentration about which he knows from recurrent personal experience as a television commentator, investigator, anchor and newspaper editor." Nader's effort was seconded by Nichols. There are also two websites promoting the effort: Draft Bill Moyers For President Blog and Draft Bill Moyers For President Activist Center.

Allegations of bias

In 2005, then Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson commissioned a study of the show NOW with Bill Moyers. Tomlinson said that the study supported what he characterized as "the image of the left-wing bias of NOW". Moyers replied to this by saying that his journalism showed "the actual experience of regular people is the missing link in a nation wired for everything but the truth." Moyers characterized Tomlinson as "an ally of Karl Rove and the right-wing monopoly's point man to keep tabs on public broadcasting." Tomlinson, he said, "found kindred spirits at the right-wing editorial board of The Wall Street Journal where the 'animal spirits of business' are routinely celebrated." Moyers also responded to these accusations in a speech given to The National Conference for Media Reform, pointing out that he had repeatedly invited Tomlinson to debate him on the subject and had repeatedly been ignored. Tomlinson subsequently resigned on November 4, 2005, after a CPB inquiry found improprieties in the commissioning of the study. Investigators at the CPB said on November 15, 2005, that they had uncovered evidence that Tomlinson had repeatedly broken federal law and the organization's own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

Referring to a July 13, 2007, edition of Bill Moyers Journal discussing the possible impeachment of then President George W. Bush and featuring guests from opposing ends of the political spectrum, both in favor of impeachment, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler praised Moyers for his initiative in highlighting different topics but felt he could have used a more balanced approach. Moyers disagreed, saying:

"The journalist's job is not to achieve some mythical state of equilibrium between two opposing opinions out of some misshapen respect—sometimes, alas, reverence—for the prevailing consensus among the powers-that-be.
The journalist's job is to seek out and offer the public the best thinking on an issue, event, or story."

Getler responded by saying that
"On the broad issue of balance, I don't disagree with Moyers....
It can create a false sense of equivalence among readers or viewers in cases where that is not justified...
[but that] while conventional, equal-time balance is frequently a false measure, the absence of any balance can undermine any program."

Personal life

Moyers married Judith Suzanne Davidson (a producer) on December 18, 1954. They have three children and five grandchildren. His son William Cope Moyers (CNN producer, Hazelden Foundation spokesman) struggled to overcome alcoholism as detailed in the book Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption. He includes letters from Bill Moyers in his book, which he says are "a testament to a father's love for his son, a father's confusion with his son, and ultimately, a father's satisfaction with his son." His other son, John Moyers, assisted in the foundation of, "an online public affairs journal of progressive analysis and commentary."


  1. Hoover's men ran name checks on 15 of them, producing derogatory information on two (a traffic violation on one and a love affair on another) " Hoover's Political Spying for Presidents, TIME, 1975"
  2. Silberman, Acting Deputy Attorney General in 1975, says Moyers called his office and said the document was a "phony CIA memo" but declined Silberman's offer to conduct an investigation to clear his name. " Hoover's Institution, WSJ, 2005" Moyers responded that Silberman's account of the conversation was at odds with his. " Removing J. Edgar's name, Robert Novak, CNN, 2005"
  3. The venue and date of the speech are not clear from the source cited here; the date provided is the publication date.
  5. [1]


  • The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis : With Excerpts from an Essay on Watergate (1988), coauthor Henry Steele Commager, Seven Locks Press, hardcover: ISBN 0932020615, 1990 reprint: ISBN 0932020852, 2000 paperback: ISBN 0932020607; examines the Iran-Contra affair
  • The Power of Myth (1988), host: Bill Moyers, author: Joseph Campbell, Doubleday, ISBN 0385247737
  • A World of Ideas : Conversations With Thoughtful Men and Women About American Life Today and the Ideas Shaping Our Future (1989), Doubleday, hardcover: ISBN 0385262787, paperback: ISBN 0385263465
  • A World of Ideas II: Public Opinions from Private Citizens (1990), Doubleday, hardcover: ISBN 0385416644, paperback: ISBN 0385416652, 1994 Random House values edition: ISBN 0517114704
  • Healing and the Mind (1993), Doubleday hardcover: ISBN 0385468709, 1995 paperback: ISBN 0385476876
  • The Language of Life (1995), Doubleday hardcover: ISBN 0385479174, 1996 paperback: ISBN 0385484100, conversations with 34 poets
  • Genesis: A Living Conversation (1996), Doubleday hardcover: ISBN 0385483457, 1997 paperback: ISBN 0385490437
  • Sister Wendy in Conversation With Bill Moyers: The Complete Conversation (1997), WGBH Educational Foundation, ISBN 1578070775
  • Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft (1999), William Morrow, hardcover: ISBN 0688173462, 2000 Harper paperback: ISBN 0688177921
  • Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times (2004), New Press, ISBN 1565848926, 2005 Anchor paperback: ISBN 1400095360; twenty selected speeches and commentaries
  • Moyers on Democracy (2008), Doubleday, ISBN 978-0385523806

External links

Television productions

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