During the last two weeks, Bill Moyers’ historic speech at the National Conference for Media Reform has ricocheted across the nation with it’s brilliant analysis of what’s wrong with our media system and why the radical right’s most recent attack on public broadcasting is cause for serious alarm. Moyers railed against Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson’s efforts to make PBS more “fair and balanced” and his perceived “liberal bias” on the network. Tomlinson, a partisan hack and close friend of the Bush administration, suppressed a 2003 survey commissioned by the CPB that found Americans do not perceive PBS to be too liberal. In his speech, Moyers challenged Tomlinson to join him on PBS to debate the facts. Meanwhile, more than 80,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for Tomlinson to resign. (Add your name)
The speech has provoked a rabid and relentless response from the far-right media goon squad of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter, who has been on nearly every cable network engaging in pathetic name calling in lieu of facts or reason. Limbaugh called him “insane” and “unhinged.” Coulter called him an “insufferable jerk” and a “crazy megalomaniac.”
So why all of the vitriol? Moyers has clearly touched a nerve and Coulter & Co. are nervous. Moyers is a principled, enlightened journalist who has been speaking truth to power for decades and winning countless Emmy, Polk and other awards along the way. He knows how to communicate with regular folks about the most critical issues better than anyone alive, as he exposes the radical right's lies dutifully channeled daily by a complacent and unquestioning corporate media.
Millions of Americans, including the 2500 or so who were on hand in St. Louis are gathering strength as a potent and organized movement for media reform. They are taking action to block media consolidation, protect PBS from partisan gamesmanship, ensure competitive, affordable Internet access, and promote independent media that questions – rather than promotes – the powers that be.
This is bad news for the radical right wing pundits and their friends at the White House, but its good news for Moyers and the rest of us concerned with quality education for our kids, affordable health care, tax policy that helps working people, judicial independence, clean environment and the list goes on. These are not liberal values per se. They are universal human values. Lacking principles and the truth, Coulter et all will continue to name call and the corporate media will continue to provide the megaphone.
It’s up to us to organize massive public support for structural reform that will transform our broken media system. Moyers is perhaps America’s greatest advocate for this essential work, and the more effective he is, the louder will be the mouthpieces of the radical right.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, while Coulter & Co. keep ranting unchallenged, Tomlinson declined to debate the facts with Moyers on TV. Surprised?