Moyers Moments

Interview Highlights: Saru Jayaraman

Did you know the federal minimum wage for millions of restaurant workers is just $2.13 per hour? Activist Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, spoke with Bill about the group’s fight to improve those wages — and working conditions — in America’s eateries. Below are highlight clips from their conversation.

On the Relentless Attack by the National Restaurant Association
“The truth is that Richard Berman’s been following us around for the last decade, trying to shut us down on behalf of the National Restaurant Association. Over the last year they’ve definitely heated up the pressure, trying to kill our message, whatever way they can,” Jayaraman tells Moyers in this clip.

On Why Wage Increases for Restaurant Workers Is a Women’s Issue
Millions of young women start their work life working in restaurants, and some continue to work in the industry when they get older. “They suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the US workforce, and they use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the US workforce. So we’re talking about poverty-wage workers, including their tips.”

On Why Mandatory Sick Days Are Better for All
Restaurant workers are twice as likely as other Americans to be on public assistance, so improving wages could reduce their reliance on social services and help many of these workers out of poverty. Mandatory sick days would help customer’s health too: “Two-thirds of restaurant workers report cooking, preparing and serving our food when they’re sick,” Jayaraman says.

On What She’s Learned About The Powers That Be
Jayaraman observes that “there are moneyed forces that have controlled our system. But also there’s nothing that the people cannot achieve once they expose those forces and once they resist.” She tells Bill that she believes she can overcome “even the most hardened, moneyed lobbyists in Washington, DC.”

Watch Bill’s full interview with Saru Jayaraman »

Charter Schools: A Marketplace for Profits or Ideas?

Education historian Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education under the first President Bush, was once an advocate of school choice and charter schools. But Ravitch changed her mind after following the money trail behind the charter movement.

“The lure of getting federal money made many states change their laws to open the door to many, many more charter schools,” Ravitch tells Moyers. And who’s behind the investment in new charters? Hedge-fund managers, private investors and philanthropists, she says.

Watch the three-minute clip:

Ravitch tells Bill:

There is a tremendous political force of very wealthy hedge-fund managers who are investing in the charter-school industry and seeing it grow. And so they have fought for these laws. There’s also a lot of charter school money going as political contributions to legislators in many of the states where the charters are booming.

Watch the full episode »

Interview Highlights: Kim Barker and Andy Kroll

Bill spoke with investigative journalists Kim Barker and Andy Kroll about the role of dark money — and the wealthy donors behind it — in this year’s midterm elections. Watch highlight clips from that episode.

What you Need to Know About Dark Money
If you don’t feel like politicians have your back, you should watch this to find out why.

Why Corporations Want to Keep Donations Secret
What happened to Target after it contributed to an organization advocating against gay marriage was “the shot heard around corporate America,” Kroll tells Moyers.

On why Democrats Flip-Flopped on Super PACS
Democrats’ attitude is, “If you can’t beat them at this, let’s just join them,” Barker says.

On Michigan’s Transformation to a Right-to-Work State
Kroll investigated how one wealthy business family turned the cradle of organized labor into a right-to-work state calling it “an incredible illustration of what one or two really motivated wealthy donors can do.”

Watch the full episode »

Interview Highlights: Julia Angwin

Investigative journalist Julia Angwin spoke with Bill about how America has become a dragnet nation where mass surveillance rules. Below are highlight clips from the episode.

Why Europe Does Privacy Better Than Us
Even though Europe doesn’t have a Fourth Amendment, they have stricter regulations on protecting citizens’ privacy, Angwin tells Bill in this clip.

Why Government Spying May Not Be Making America Safer
Angwin says those security cameras you see everywhere and the government’s mass collection of information isn’t really making us safer — in fact the opposite seems more likely. It’s a case of TMI, she says.

On Who Profits When You Sign up to Vote
Believe it or not, some states are selling your voting information to commercial data brokers.

Watch the full episode »

Look Who Profits When You Sign up to Vote

Investigative journalist Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation, speaks to Bill in this clip about the ways in which the government and the private sector are compiling a personal profile of you. Did you know, for instance, that in some states your voting information can be sold to commercial data brokers?

Watch the 3-minute clip:

Through her research, Angwin discovered that over 200 data brokers had information on her, in one of the “least transparent” industries in America. Of those brokers, about a dozen would let her view her personal information (and when she did, she found some major inaccuracies, such as the names of previous employers) and less than half allowed her to opt out. Some sites even required her to submit her driver’s license number, social security information or pay a fee to complete the opt-out process.

“All kinds of companies are collecting my data. In the data broker business, there are people who sell my name and address and actual voting records and all that. Those people, there are the big ones who compile it all on the backend, like Acxiom and InfoGroup; then there are the ones you look for online with whoever’s Googled your stuff. You might see them show up, they’re selling your data — they are Spokeo, Intelius and all of those lookup sites. And they do a very big business in selling your data. And unfortunately, your data sells pretty cheap.”

Watch the entire episode with Julie Angwin »

Interview Highlights: Ian Haney López

Author and legal scholar Ian Haney López spoke with Bill about dog whistle politics — code words that use race to turn Americans against each other and manipulate voters — in a two part interview. Below are highlight clips from the episodes.

On Ronald Reagan’s Racially Tinged Stump Speeches
By playing on stereotypes, Haney López says Reagan was able to get middle-class white voters to support economic policies that helped corporations and the wealthy.

On Romney’s “47 Percent”
In this clip, Haney López says Mitt Romney’s infamous statement played into existing racial biases and was “the narrative that his audience wants to hear.”

On Bill Clinton’s Embrace of Dog Whistling
While Bill Clinton was considered by many African-Americans as “the first black president,” Haney López says he took on policies like “ramping up Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs and converting it into a general war on crime” that played into dog whistle politics.

What’s Driving the Tea Party?
As the tea party celebrates its fifth birthday this month, Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics, talks to Bill about how the movement has used strategic racism to get voters to the polls. “When you look at what animates the tea party, there are several different hatreds that are core to the tea party.”

On Latinos and the Future of Dog Whistle Politics
Haney López says he expects strategic racism in politics will evolve to include members of the Latino and Asian communities.

Watch all of part one and part two of Bill’s interview with Haney López.

Race, the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration

How did America come to have the highest rate of incarceration in the world? In this video, lawyer and activist Michelle Alexander says that unfortunate fact is not simply a response to crime but deeply connected to racial attitudes, fears and anxieties exploited by politicians over the decades.

“The political strategist who conceived of the get tough movement and the war on drugs quite deliberately used not so subtle racial appeals and racial code language with the purpose of trying to exploit both conscious and unconscious racial biases and stereotypes for political gain.” Alexander traces these strategies back to Nixon’s presidency and sheds light on how Bill Clinton “escalated the drug war far beyond what President Reagan or President Nixon had even dreamed possible.”

Watch the entire episode »

Is America a Post-Racial Society?

“Not even close,” says social justice advocate Angela Glover Blackwell. In this clip, Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research institute, says race “still controls everything in America” and a large number of people are being left behind because of the color of their skin.

“Race has become so embedded, and baked in, that people can walk around feeling that they’re not carrying racism in their heart. But so long as they’re okay with disproportionate incarceration, communities being left behind, children given no chance, this continues to be a society that is plagued by the legacy of the continuing impact of racism, right into today.”

Watch the entire episode »

Were Romney’s “47 Percent” Remarks Racist?

In this week’s episode of Moyers & Company, Bill asks Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics, whether Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment could be construed as racially coded language. “I think it was,” Haney López says.


Bill wonders if Romney really knew what he was saying and asks Haney López “is it possible he didn’t think of that as a dog whistle?”

Haney López responds, “He’s pretty clear that he thinks it’s the narrative that his audience wants to hear.”

“[D]og whistle politics doesn’t come out of animus at all. It doesn’t come out of some desire to hurt minorities. It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense, I want to start using the term strategic racism. It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered, it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity. And… that’s the decision that Mitt Romney made.”

Ronald Reagan’s Racially Tinged Stump Speeches

In Dog Whistle Politics, author and legal scholar Ian Haney López describes how politicians use subtle, racially coded messages — “dog whistles” — to manipulate Americans in the voting booth. One early example, Haney López says, is a story Ronald Reagan told on the campaign trail during his first run for president in 1976. Watch:

By playing on stereotypes, Reagan was able to get middle-class white voters to support economic policies that helped corporations and the wealthy. Haney López tells Bill, “Over the 1980s, the Reagan tax cuts transferred a trillion dollars to America’s top one percent. Yes, voters got the tax cuts they thought were aimed at cutting off undeserving minorities, but, in fact, it was a politics that was showering money on the very richest Americans.”

“We used to understand that the biggest threat in political life was the power of concentrated money… but now, Republicans for fifty years have been telling voters the biggest threat in your life is minorities are going to hijack government.”

Watch a preview of Bill’s conversation with Ian Haney López »

Interview Highlights: Mike Lofgren

Former GOP congressional analyst Mike Lofgren recently appeared on Moyers & Company to talk about America’s “Deep State,” in which elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. Below are highlight clips from the episode.

On Why the Deep State is the Big Story
What’s the red thread running through our history over the last three decades? Lofgren says it’s the Deep State, which explains how we had “deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion of our civil liberties and perpetual war.”

On How the Deep State is Sucking Money
In this clip, Lofgren explains how a combination of the national security state and the corporate state are sucking money out of our economy, while Rome burns.

On Why David Petraeus is the Avatar of the Deep State
Lofgren calls Wall Street, “the ultimate backstop of the Deep State,” and describes Petraeus as representing both ends of it — from Washington, DC to the financial district — adding that “the vast majority of generals end up on boards of defense contractors.”

On Silicon Valley’s Role in the Deep State
Lofgren says Silicon Valley has become “part of the NSA’s operations,” and has been gathering information on unknowing citizens for many years. How is this cozy relationship helping Silicon Valley on matters of intellectual property and how does that impact consumers?

Watch Bill’s entire interview with Lofgren »

Lawrence Lessig on How Cash Corrupts Congress

Thirteen percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest Gallup poll. That low approval rating — up from an all-time low of nine percent in November — may be because raising money appears to be a major priority for politicians of all stripes.

Activist and scholar Lawrence Lessig spoke with Bill Moyers last year about why a focus on political fundraising leads to distorted policymaking and corruption in our government. “Remember the old image of the Skinner box, that, you have the rat, learning which buttons to push to get the food. Well, our congressmen live in a Skinner box. They live 30 to 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress,” Lessig tells Moyers.

Watch the full 2013 interview »

Interview Highlights: Bill McKibben on Why Obama Needs to Stand Up to Big Oil

Environmental activist Bill McKibben appeared on Moyers & Company to talk about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and his hopes that public pressure will lead the Obama administration to stand up to big oil. Below are some highlight clips from the episode.

On Why the White House Wants to Approve Keystone
In this clip, McKibben says the reason why the State Department concluded that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would basically have no impact on climate change comes down to money and power.

On Obama’s “Shameful Speech”
In this clip, Bill McKibben criticizes Obama for a speech he gave on the 2012 campaign trail and says he is on track to go down as the “president who produced more carbon than anybody thought possible.”

On Why Big Oil is Getting a Great Deal
Companies like Exxon, Chevron and Peabody Coal are making record profits and don’t have to pay for damage that their carbon causes in the atmosphere, McKibben says. MORE

The Many Faces of Addiction

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has brought new attention to the resurgence of heroin in America and the potentially disastrous effects of substance abuse.

In Bill Moyers’ 1998 series, Moyers on Addiction: Close to Home, Bill and his colleagues provided a clear picture of addiction in America by looking at the science, treatment, prevention and politics of addiction. Hoping to raise awareness about this issue, Moyers reported on a disease that has affected his own family as well as millions of Americans. The first episode provided a portrait of the pain of addiction and the possibility of recovery.

Here’s an excerpt:

Watch the entire episode »

The Hazelden Foundation and Alcoholics Anonymous are two among many organizations that provide resources for those looking for information and help.

Interview Highlights: David Simon on America as a Horror Show

David Simon, journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme spoke to Bill about the crisis of capitalism in America and how it’s dividing our country. See highlight clips from the episode below.

On Politicians Disconnected from Reality
Simon imagines Beltway politicians living in the struggling Baltimore neighborhoods that he got to know while working as a police reporter.

On Libertarianism
In this clip, Simon says that he is astonished that libertarianism is taken seriously “as an intelligent mode of political thought,” adding that America has become “a scam.”

On the Ultimate Tragedy of Capitalism
Simon says capitalism in America is only concerned with measuring profit and economic value, which means it has lost sight of its social contract.

On how America has Fundamentally Changed
In this clip, Simon says that the only factory that he sees working in Baltimore is the drug corner.

Watch Bill’s entire interview with David Simon»

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