Bill Moyers has been the subject of conversation in media circles for a few weeks now. He elegantly eulogized Lady Bird Johnson last week. Before that, he savaged Rupert Murdoch on the possibility of his ownership of the Wall Street Journal. Now, Murdoch an old hand to charges of bias is being blasted by the PBS ombudsman online for his Impeachment program, where he failed to provide a counterbalance for calls to oust President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. “There was almost a complete absence of balance,” is how the ombudsman put it. The show featured John Nichols, author of Dick: The Man Who Is President, and Bruce Fein, also no friend of the President.
Granted, a meditation into whether or not PBS’ “lightening rod/icon” Bill Moyers of Bill Moyers Journal is biased is real navel-gazing 3AM-in-the-morning-on-C-SPAN stuff. Still, when PBS ombudsman Michael Getler takes the time to craft an online rebuke, it made us think about Moyer’s Friday the 13th Impeachment show. Might Bill Moyers, former personal assistant to LBJ, divinity student, have trouble with balance on his show? Getler writes, “My views on Moyers and his programs are mixed, and perhaps not very helpful or satisfying to viewers who are hard over one way or the other about Moyers and his programs.”
While the American conservative movement has always regarded Moyers as a bete noir, no one would accuse the PBS ombudsman of any such agendas.