Forget Maher vs. Bachus. How about Moyers vs. Limbaugh???

05/25/2005 03:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Bill Maher fan. But there's another, more fundamental debate I think HuffingtonPost readers need to focus on: Bill Moyers vs. Rush Limbaugh. Or, more properly, "journalism" vs. "propaganda". In an excellent analysis in The Nation of this developing debate, John Nichols sums up the bottom line of where we are today:

"A debate has opened regarding the role of reporting in George W. Bush's America. But this debate is about a great deal more than one president or one moment in history. At the most fundamental level, it is about whether the American experiment as imagined by the most visionary of its founders can long endure."

As Bill Moyers said in his recent National Conference for Media Reform speech,"These 'rules of the game' permit Washington officials to set the agenda for journalism, leaving the press all too often simply to recount what officials say instead of subjecting their words and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin, invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading,"

And what is Rush Limbaugh's response? In classic fashion, he avoids the substance of Moyer's charges and says Moyers has come "unhinged" and that, "The things coming out of his mouth today are literally insane."

There is much more in John Nichols' article, but what stands out for me is that - much as with the threat to end the fillibuster in the Senate - we live today with a threat to do away with journalism as it has been practiced from the beginning. And, if that happens...if the media falls into the trap of just letting both sides talk, reporting on what they said, and calling that "journalism"...then we will find ourselves living in a very different country than our founding fathers had in mind.