MEDIA WATCH - Legendary broadcaster and one-time Baptist preacher Bill Moyers says for the first time in his 85 years he fears for America.
Asked on the eve of impeachment hearings if he fears for the country, Moyers told CNN’s Brian Stelter: “For the first time in my long life – and I was born in the Depression, lived through World War II, have been a part of politics and government for all these years – yes, for the first time, because a democracy can die of too many lies, and we’re getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country.”
Moyers, press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson and a longtime broadcaster on PBS, has been pushing unsuccessfully for public television to air this week’s public impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump. In Monday’s interview on CNN Business, Moyers said he believes facts still matter.
“I listened this morning to Donald Trump’s rally in Louisiana,” he said. “It was astonishing. He shouted at his audience and they responded. They believe everything he said. I’m hoping if only 10 percent of those people come and watch the hearings in toto, they will see it’s not a witch hunt, and they will begin to doubt their master, and they will begin to break off and maybe become a citizen again instead of a partisan.”
Growing up in a devout Southern Baptist home, Moyers vacillated as a young man between politics and preaching. After studying abroad, he enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, serving as the school’s information director while preaching at nearby churches. He received the bachelor-of-divinity degree in January 1960.
While serving as pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, Texas, Moyers reached his decision to leave the ministry. He worked for the Peace Corps before serving the Johnson administration from 1965 to 1967.
Moyers worked as a network TV news commentator for 10 years prior to his extensive involvement with public broadcasting. He often touched on religion, including the groundbreaking “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth” in 1988 and the 10-part “Genesis: A Living Conversation,” that aired in 1996.
His 1987 series “God and Politics” included a segment titled “The Battle for the Bible” reporting on a controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention commonly known today as the “Conservative Resurgence.”
The SBC Executive Committee responded with a rare resolution alleging the program was biased against conservatives. The resolution was initiated by Paul Pressler, a Houston layman credited with co-founding the movement serving at the time as a member of the Executive Committee and one of the people interviewed for the program.
Moyers continued talking about the impeachment hearings this week in a two-part interview with the independent global news hour Democracy Now.
“All presidents lie. It’s a defense they use,” he said. “But not all presidents lie systemically. Not all presidents lie constantly.”
“But what we have now is a culture of lying, not only from within politics, but from within media that is determined only to protect and save the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and they lie” about things big and small.
“You don’t know what to believe anymore,” Moyers said. “I still believe that facts matter, but they’re trying to change the facts on us. And that’s where a few journalists and a few media outlets have a real role to play. It’s to always put on the table the evidence against the lies that are being told by the people who have a vested interest in lying.”
(Bob Allen served as Baptist News Global’s news editor from 2008 to 2020. He is based in Nashville, Tenn. This was featured in baptistnews.com.)