The Nobel-prize winning novelist Doris Lessing passed away on Sunday morning in London at the age of 94.
In this 2003 interview, Bill spoke with Lessing about what she called her “compulsive” passion for writing, growing up in Africa, the flower children of the 1960s, her time as a communist, the lasting impacts of war and how she handled accusations by her friends that she was “narrow-minded and an old grouch.”
In 2008, as the damage from Wall Street’s collapsing house of cards spread through the brick-and-mortar economy, Bill Moyers took an Emmy Award-winning look at the new Yankee Stadium project, seeing in it a shining illustration of our new Gilded Age.
There, in the South Bronx, the poorest district in the entire country, taxpayers were being asked to subsidize the private profits of one of the wealthiest franchises in organized sports. The Yankees’ owner at the time, the late George Steinbrenner, had bought the team for $10 million dollars in 1973, and by the time the old Yankee Stadium — “the House that Ruth built” — was ready to be replaced, it was worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes. MORE
Historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad observes in his book The Condemnation of Blackness that “to think and talk about African Americans as criminal is encoded deeply in our DNA.” In this 2012 Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, Muhammad tells Bill how, during Reconstruction, former slaves were perceived to have a moral failing that made them different from white European immigrants. As a result, he explained, “immigrant communities got police reform. And black people got police repression.”
Watch Bill’s full interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad.
Could the secret to improving American health lie in school? In this November 2008 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, author and food activist Michael Pollan recommends a new way of thinking about school lunches — economically, nutritionally and politically. He says it can result in a healthier population, an economic stimulus and the promotion of good lifelong habits.
Watch Pollan’s full conversation with Bill Moyers.
In this 2001 Moyers Moment from Bill’s documentary Trade Secrets, Bill examines the many chemicals that have been introduced into our environment over the last few decades. To find out just how pervasive these chemicals were, Bill volunteered to get his blood tested.
It’s a tactic used by powerful industries time and again: When research findings interfere with your ability to turn a profit, contaminate the field with your own manipulated science. Bill’s 2001 documentary, Trade Secrets, follows the vinyl chloride industry’s attempts to do just that.
In this 2001 Moyers Moment from Trade Secrets, Bill speaks with David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, two public health historians, and Richard Lemen, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about the U.S. vinyl chloride industry’s attempts to cover up scientific research with their own skewed science.
Vinyl chloride is a toxic chemical compound that is used to manufacture PVC plastic. The companies who produce it knew for decades that being exposed even to small amounts of vinyl chloride could be extremely damaging to a person’s health, but documents show they conspired to keep that fact from their workers, who were exposed daily. In many cases, employees died of rare forms of cancer after years of working in factories that manufactured the compound.
Watch Bill’s 2013 conversation with David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz on Moyers & Company.
In this 2006 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason, author and “strict agnostic” Margaret Atwood discusses the hypothetical effects of removing God from human consciousness, and explains the difference between atheism and agnosticism.
“You can’t run an experiment on whether God exists or not,” Atwood tells Bill. “Therefore you can’t say anything about it as knowledge.”
In this 2006 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason, author Salman Rushdie — a self-described “hard-line atheist” — talks about the need to “broaden what we can understand and say, and therefore be.”
“I’ve been trying all my life to find a language to express our sense of what is not material,” Rushdie tells Bill. “without having recourse to the ready-made ideas of religion.”
Watch the full conversation between Salman Rushdie and Bill Moyers
In this 2004 Moyers Moment from NOW with Bill Moyers, author Richard Dawkins makes the case for evolution’s truth, and assesses the argument of “intelligent design.”
“All material should be studied with an open mind and studied critically. What’s wrong is to single out evolution as any more open to doubt as anything else,” Dawkins tells Bill. “Evolution is about as certain as anything we know.”
In this 2006 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason, novelist Martin Amis talks about his inner conflicts when it comes to his own agnosticism.
“Agnostic is the only respectable position, simply because our ignorance of the universe is s0 vast… We’re about eight Einsteins away from getting any kind of handle on the universe,” Amis tells Bill. “But why is the universe so incredibly complicated? That makes me delay my vote on the existence of some intelligence.”
In this 2007 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, Barbara Ehrenreich describes how hard it is to survive when you’re a low-wage worker in America — a challenge she took on personally when she went undercover and documented her experiences in the bestselling book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
Watch the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Barbara Ehrenreich.
In this 2009 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, filmmaker Oliver Stone describes his personal experiences as a soldier in Vietnam and explains how they inform many of his films, particularly Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, which deal explicitly with war. The mass killing and suffering of civilians in Vietnam reminds him of today’s war in Afghanistan, Stone says, and he recalls the desensitization to killing with which he had to come to grips when he returned home. MORE
In this 2007 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein and journalist John Nichols discuss how George W. Bush, during his administration’s “war on terror,” claimed powers never intended for the president. They also cite other historical examples of both wisdom and weakness in how the executive branch wielded its authority.
Fein argues that we can defeat terror without sidestepping our integral system of checks and balances. “No one wants to downgrade the fact that we have abominations out there and people want to kill us,” he tells Bill. “But we should not inflate the danger and we should not cast aside what we are as a people.”
Watch Bill’s full conversation with Fein and Nichols here.
When Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun first took his seat on the bench, it was widely thought that he would strengthen the Court’s conservative wing. But within three years, Justice Blackmun spoke for the majority in one of the Court’s most liberal, historic and controversial decisions of the century: Roe v. Wade, granting women constitutional protection for abortion. In this 1987 Moyers Moment from In Search of the Constitution, Blackmun describes the decision as a necessary step towards the emancipation of women.
Current partisan flare-ups over filibuster reform, gun control, and the fiscal cliff don’t provide much hope for bipartisan compromise, but does the difference between conservatives and liberals go deeper than just their policy positions? In this Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes six categories of moral concerns — including compassion, liberty, loyalty, and authority — and how those on the Right and the Left exhibit these qualities very differently.
Watch the full conversation between Bill and Dr. Haidt.