BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company.

MARTY KAPLAN: It's all about combat. If every political issue is the combat between two polarized sides, then you get great television because people are throwing food at each other. And you have an audience that hasn't a clue, at the end of the story, which is why you'll hear, "Well, we'll have to leave it there." Well, thank you very much. Leave it there.

BILL MOYERS: And how the ghost of Joe McCarthy is back to haunt America.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: They shouldn’t be called Democrats, they should be referred to properly as the Commiecrat Party.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. How about this: enterprising and intrepid journalism students at Kent State University in Ohio took up our challenge to go to nearby television stations, collect data on the political ads they run and post that information on the Internet. It’s supposed to be public information in the first place.

KENT STATE STUDENT: We had one simple question for management at each station. Should these records be put on line? Three stations refused to be interviewed.

BILL MOYERS: Take a look at the complete Kent State video at our website, We’re counting on other journalism students around the country – and maybe you as well – to follow their example and share the results with us. Meanwhile, on with the show, because as you can see, sometimes the truth reveals itself in the darnedest places. In an old movie, for example – one you saw some years ago, forgot, and then, by chance, happen on it again to discover that times have changed, and movies, too. But certain things never change: they just cost more.

Here’s what I mean: remember Eddie Murphy twenty years ago in The Distinguished Gentleman? That’s the term by which members of Congress address each other, no matter how disreputable their conduct.

Murphy, a con man disguised as a waiter, is about to fleece the host of a swanky party, when he overhears this conversation between a big-time energy executive and a veteran Congressman who wants to retire:

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: Yeah well, look, Jeff. You can't retire.

JEFF JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: If I retire this year I get to keep $1.3 million that’s left in my campaign fund. And it’s called the grandfather loophole.

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: Alright, Jeff. I got it. Come here. There's a small software company that's about to go through the roof. Now what you do is buy a few thousand dollars’ worth of stock options. It’s going to bring in a half a million, easy -- and that's just for our winners.

JEFF JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: If you put it like that, I suppose I have a duty to continue my career in public service.

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: Duty.

BILL MOYERS: Fate intervenes, the Congressman dies of a heart attack, and Murphy gets himself elected in his place. At a Washington dinner for freshmen members of Congress, he begins to learn the ropes from the lobbyist Terry Corrigan:

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: Say, could I host a welcome- to-Washington fundraiser for you down at my law firm on K street?

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: Absolutely!

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: At five hundred dollars a head -- you could pick up twenty, twenty-five grand to help you get started.

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: And how much of that are you going to get?

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: It doesn't come off the top. Down the road, I'll bill each of ‘em five hundred an hour whenever I take you to lunch.

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: You know Terry, you and I are going to be so close.

BILL MOYERS: Soon, he’s making a beeline for the honey pot.

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: I'd like to do more money for you – but first I’ve gotta get your positions on a few issues. Now where are you on sugar price supports?

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: Sugar price supports. Where should I be, Terry?

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: It makes no difference to me. If you're for 'em, I got money for you from my sugar producers in Louisiana and Hawaii. If you're against 'em, I got money for you from the candy manufacturers.

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: You pick […]Terry, tell me something -- with all this money coming in from both sides, how could anything possibly ever get done?

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: It doesn't! That's the genius of the system!

BILL MOYERS: Now in the good graces of a powerful committee chairman, he joins the shakedown of a corporate executive who wants a favor from Congress.

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: Seven figures? I suppose a million dollars isn’t too much to insure against losing $5 billion.

DICK DODGEin The Distinguished Gentleman: Now you talking.

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: But how can I funnel this kind of money to you?

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: If that’s what you want, we can find a loophole. No one will see your fingerprints.

OLAF ANDERSEN in The Distinguished Gentleman: No one will know?

TERRY CORRIGANin The Distinguished Gentleman: No one will know.

DICK DODGEin The Distinguished Gentleman: Olaf's just making a contribution as a patriotic citizen. And in return for that, he's getting…

TOMMY JEFFERSON JOHNSONin The Distinguished Gentleman: Good government.

DICK DODGEin The Distinguished Gentleman: Exactly. A little access, that's all.

BILL MOYERS: I’ll not remind you of how the movie ends, in case you want to see it for yourself. But I can assure you – the revelations ring as true today as they did then. And no one knows this better than my next guest who wrote The Distinguished Gentlemen.

Marty Kaplan majored in molecular biology at Harvard, got a Ph. D. in literature from Stanford and went to work for U.S. Commissioner of Education Ernest Boyer and then with Vice President Walter Mondale After Washington he joined the Walt Disney Company as a writer/producer on such diverse projects as that Eddie Murphy satire and the Peter Bogdanovich adaptation of Noises Off. After becoming a dean at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, he founded and heads the Norman Lear Center, which studies politics, entertainment, and commerce – and their impact on us. He’s an expert on how big money and big media have coupled to create a Disney World of democracy. Marty, welcome.

MARTY KAPLAN: Thanks, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote The Distinguished Gentleman 20 years ago. Could you write it today?

MARTY KAPLAN: Oh God, it still is the same. All you have to do is add a couple of zeros to the amount of money. And the same laws still apply. It is fabulous and miserable at the same time.

BILL MOYERS: Was Washington then, and is it now, the biggest con game going?

MARTY KAPLAN: It is the biggest con game going. And the stakes are enormous. And the effort to regulate them is hopeless, because the very people who are in charge of regulating them are the same people who are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the lobbies that run them.

BILL MOYERS: I have it on very good authority that a prominent Washington senator recently told a group of lobbyists in Washington, a room full of lobbyists, that they are the lifeblood of the city. And I thought, "Kaplan has to do a vampire movie now." Right?

MARTY KAPLAN: Exactly. The connection between the legislators and the lobbyists is so intimate that it's not even embarrassing for a senator to say that in front of a room. The culture is so hermetically sealed from the rest of the country that it doesn't occur to them that there is something deeply outrageous and offensive and corrosive of democracy to admit that the money side of politics and the elected side of politics belong to each other.

BILL MOYERS: You wrestle with this, you and your colleagues at the Norman Lear Center, and all the time, on how, on what the system is doing to us. So let me ask you, "How did this happen in America? How did our political system become the problem instead of the answer?"

MARTY KAPLAN: Part of it is the nexus of media, money, and special interest politics. The citizens have given the airwaves to the station. We own the electromagnetic spectrum and for free we give out licenses to television stations. Those stations, in turn, use that spectrum to get enormous amounts of money from special interests and from members of Congress in order to send these ads back to us to influence us. So we lose it in both ways. The other day, the president of CBS, Les Moonves, was reported by "Bloomberg" to have said "Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're … good for CBS." I mean, there it is. This is a windfall every election season, which seems not to even stop ever, for the broadcast industry. So not only are they raking it in, they're also creating a toxic environment for civic discourse. People don't hear about issues. They hear these negative charges, which only turn them off more. The more negative stuff you hear, the less interested you are in going out to vote. And so they're being turned off, the stations are raking it in, and the people who are chortling all the way to Washington and the bank are the ones who get to keep their hands on the levers of power. So one of the big reasons that things are at the pass they are is that the founders never could have anticipated that a small group of people, a financial enterprise and the technology could create this environment in which facts, truth, accountability, that stuff just isn't entertaining. So because it's not entertaining, because the stations think it's ratings poison, they don't cover it on the news. BILL MOYERS: They don't cover the news.

MARTY KAPLAN: They don't cover politics and government in the sense of issues. They're happy, occasionally to cover horse race and scandal and personality and crime and that aspect of politics. But if you look at a typical half hour of news, local news, because local news is one of the most important sources of news for Americans about campaigns. A lot--

BILL MOYERS: You and your colleagues have done a lot of research on local news.

MARTY KAPLAN: Yes, we've been studying it now since 1998. And each year it gets more depressing and it's hard to believe. We, not long ago, did a study of the Los Angeles media market. We looked at every station airing news and every news broadcast they aired round the clock. And we put together a composite half hour of news. And if you ask, "How much in that half hour was about transportation, education law enforcement, ordinances, tax policy?" everything involving locals, from city to county. The answer is, in a half hour, 22 seconds.

BILL MOYERS: Twenty-two seconds devoted to what one would think are the serious issues of democracy, right?

MARTY KAPLAN: Yes. Whereas, in fact, there are three minutes about crime, and two and a half minutes about the ugliest dog contest, and two minutes about entertainment. There's plenty of room for stuff that the stations believe will keep people from changing the dial.

BILL MOYERS: What is the irony to me is that these very same stations that are giving 22 seconds out of a half hour to serious news, are raking-- and not covering politics, are raking in money from the ads that the politicians and their contributors are spending on those same papers.

MARTY KAPLAN: Yes, they're earning hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars from the ads that they are being paid to run. And not even risking running a minute of news, which might actually check on the accuracy of an ad. Truth watches, they're almost invisible now.

BILL MOYERS: So they will tell you, however, that they're in the entertainment business. That they're in the business to amuse the public, to entertain the public. And if they do these serious stories about the schools or about the highways or about this or that, the public tunes out. That the clicks begin to register as—

MARTY KAPLAN: It's one of the great lies about broadcasting now. There are consultants who go all around the country and they tell the general managers and the news directors, "It is only at your peril that you cover this stuff." But one of the things that we do is, the Lear Center gives out the Walter Cronkite award for excellence in television political journalism every two years. And we get amazing entries from all over the country of stations large and small of reporters under these horrendous odds doing brilliant pieces and series of pieces, which prove that you can not only do these pieces on a limited budget, but you can still be the market leader.

BILL MOYERS: What do they say when you say, "But look, you have this public franchise. You've been given this hotdog stand in your neighborhood to sell all the hotdogs you want to. In return, we'd just like more attention to serious issues and to take politics seriously." What do they say?

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, some of them say, "You're right. We're going to do it. And hold us accountable." That's the miracle. The Hearst chain of television stations, for example, has won the Cronkite Award over and over, because they've risen to the challenge. If you have management and ownership from top down, saying to all their stations, "Okay, you are required to run news stories about campaigns. You have to run five minutes a night for the last 30 days of a campaign. And we're going to judge you." If their management and ownership says, "You have to do it," they do it. And they can do an amazing job of it. The problem is that management like that is few and far between.

BILL MOYERS: So what is driving it?

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, what's really driving it, if you think of this as a symptom and not a cause, I think what's really driving it is the absolute demonization of any kind of idea of public interest as embodied by government. And at the same time, a kind of corporate triumphalism, in which the corporations, the oligarchs, the plutocrats, running this country want to hold onto absolute power absolutely. And it's an irritant to them to have the accountability that news once used to play.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by that? News challenges their assumptions, challenges their power?

MARTY KAPLAN: It used to be that the news programs that aired, believe it or not, had news on them. They had investigative stories.

But then somewhere in the 1980s, when 60 Minutes started making a profit, CBS put the news division inside the entertainment division. And then everyone followed suit. So ever since then, news has been a branch of entertainment and, infotainment, at best.

But there was a time in which the press, the print press, news on television and radio were speaking truth to power, people paid attention, and it made a difference. The-- I don't think the Watergate trials would have happened, the Senate hearings, had there not been the kind of commitment from the news to cover the news rather than cutting away to Aruba and a kidnapping.

BILL MOYERS: What is the basic consequence of taking the news out of the journalism box and putting it over into the entertainment box?

MARTY KAPLAN: People are left on their own to fend for themselves. And the problem is that there's not that much information out there, if you're an ordinary citizen, that comes to you. You can ferret it out. But it oughtn't be like that in a democracy. Education and journalism were supposed to, according to our founders, inform our public and to make democracy work.

You can't do it unless we're smart. And so the consequence is that we're not smart. And you can see it in one study after another. Some Americans think that climate change is a hoax cooked up by scientists, that there's no consensus about it. This kind of view could not survive in a news environment, which said, "This is true and that's false." Instead we have an environment in which you have special interest groups manipulating their way onto shows and playing the system, gaming the notion that he said she said is basically the way in which politics is now covered.

It's all about combat. If every political issue is the combat between two polarized sides, then you get great television because people are throwing food at each other. And you have an audience that hasn't a clue, at the end of the story, which is why you'll hear, "Well, we'll have to leave it there." Well, thank you very much. Leave it there.

BILL MOYERS: You have talked and written about "the straightjacket of objectivity." Right? What is that?

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, the problem with telling the truth is that in this postmodern world, there's not supposed to be something as truth anymore. So all you can do if you are a journalist is to say, "Some people say." Maybe you can report a poll. Maybe you can quote somebody. But objectivity is only this phony notion of balance, rather than fact-checking.

There are some gallant and valiant efforts, like PolitiFact and that are trying to hold ads and news reports accountable. But by and large, that's not what you're getting. Instead the real straightjacket is entertainment. That's what all these sources are being forced to be. Walter Lippmann in the 1920s had a concept called "spectator democracy" in which he said that the public was a herd that needed steering by the elites. Now he thought that people just didn't have the capacity to understand all these complicated issues and had to delegate it to experts of various kinds.

But since then, the notion of spectator democracy has, I think, extended to include the need to divert the country from the master narrative, which is the influence and importance and imperviousness to accountability of large corporations and the increasing impotence of the public through its agency, the government, to do anything about it. So the more diversion and the more entertainment, the less news, the less you focus on that story, the better off it is.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that the people who run this political media business, the people who fund it, want to divert the public's attention from their economic power? Is that what you're saying?


Let us fight about you know, whether this circus or that circus is better than each other, but please don't focus on the big change which has happened in this country, which is the absolute triumph of these large, unaccountable corporations.

This is about as dismal and effective a conspiracy, out in plain sight, as there possibly could be. So I don't say that this is going to be solved or taken care of. What I do say is the first step toward it is at least acknowledging how toxic the situation has become.

BILL MOYERS: But isn't it possible that a lot of people prefer the entertainment side of politics and even the news, because they have seen what you have just described. That they see the problems. They write on my website and say, "Look, you know, you're describing this. You're investigating that. But tell me what I can do. What can I do? I do something and nothing happens." And so people just say, "Enough's enough." And they go their merry way.

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, merry is the word. Self-medication is probably a decent thing to do, when you're that depressed about what's going on. If only every once in a while, you get some headline for some demonstration you're in, or maybe you defeat somebody. Look at Wisconsin, for example. There's a reason for hope. Citizens came out and have made a difference. They are recalling the governor. They have terrified a state legislature, which has acted not in their interest. So citizen activism is showing signs of making a difference. And you can see it in Ohio. You can see a bit of it in Arizona. These things are not completely hopeless. And--

BILL MOYERS: So how did it happen, given what you say about who controls the spigots of information and the money going into the-- into the media process? How did that happen?

MARTY KAPLAN: The public, by turning out in vast numbers and not giving up, forced the media to pay attention to them. And as long as the media reflects a view of yourself in which you're impotent, there's no reason to go out and try. But as soon as the mirror that the media provides says, "Wait a minute, all these people are doing something." That has what they call a network effect. More creates more. And finally it becomes a force in politics that even the Koch brothers funding the governor of Wisconsin can't completely suffocate.

BILL MOYERS: You watched the Republican primaries, right?


BILL MOYERS: What did you see?

MARTY KAPLAN: I saw the most amazing effort to brand the entities that sponsored the debates.

ANNOUNCER #1: This is the ABC news.

ANNOUNCER #2: This is the NBC news.

MARTY KAPLAN: I mean, every big network and every brand was out in order to sell their brand to the public. The content of the debate was almost laughable.

BILL MOYERS: Entertaining.


BILL MOYERS: But it's fun.


BILL MOYERS: You against fun?

MARTY KAPLAN: I'm for Herman Cain.

HERMAIN CAIN: This economy is on life support, that's why my 999 plan is a bold solution.

MICHELE BACHMANN: When you take the 999 plan and turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details.

MARTY KAPLAN: I'm for Michele Bachmann as entertainers. But American politics shouldn't only be a reality show. And that's what it's become.

BILL MOYERS: But aren't we suckers for melodrama? Don't we like the soap opera up and down, in and out quality of the political race today?

MARTY KAPLAN: We are programmed to love stories. That is in our genes. Our wiring says that when you say, "Once upon a time," I am hooked. When you show me conflict between two people, I want to know who's going to win. That's how it's always been. And it happens that politics is now the substance and television is now the medium in which to bedazzle us, to enthrall us, which means enslave us just as it has been all through human history.

BILL MOYERS: What struck me in those Republican debates is that they'd get into 15 to 20, maybe 30 minutes of an exchange, and then the moderator would say, "Hold it right there. We'll be back after a commercial."

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We have to go to a break. When we come back we’ll talk foreclosure, we’ll talk about foreign policy.

BILL MOYERS: I kept thinking of the great debates between Lincoln and Douglass, "Wait a moment, Mr. Lincoln, before you take up the issue of slavery, we have a commercial for you." They have taken over the process, in that regard. You can't play unless you play on their turf, which is governed by the rules of commerce.

MARTY KAPLAN: The League of Women Voters doesn't have a chance any more--

BILL MOYERS: They used to be the sponsors of the presidential debates.

MARTY KAPLAN: Exactly. Instead, the purpose of these debates is in order to have commercials. The suspense and coming back, those are devices deployed, in order to have people watch what happens in between. These are moneymaking propositions. They give bragging rights for those that get high ratings. They have nothing to do with the content.

Because if they did have to do with the content, then the moderators would have to spend all their time saying, "I can't believe you just said that. That is so wrong. How can you say that?" Instead they say, "Well, Governor Perry, what do you think of what Congressman Bachmann just said?" That's what happens. That's what passes for journalism. And that's what gets us to watch the ads for soap.

BILL MOYERS: What you're saying is that the political square is now a commercial enterprise, owned and operated for the benefit of the brand, CNN, Fox, all of those, right?

MARTY KAPLAN: That's correct.

BILL MOYERS: How did it happen? How did we sell what belonged to everyone?

MARTY KAPLAN: By believing that what is, is what always has been and what should be. The notion that what goes on is actually made by people, changes through time, represents the deployment of political power. That notion has gone away. We think it's always been this way. People now watching these CNN and Fox. They think this is how it works. They don't have a sense of history. The amnesia, which has been cultivated by journalism, by entertainment in this country, helps prevent people from saying, "Wait a minute, that's the wrong path to be on."

BILL MOYERS: Amnesia, forgetfulness? You say that they're cultivating forgetfulness?

MARTY KAPLAN: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: Deliberately?

MARTY KAPLAN: Look at the way in which it-- the march toward war in Iran, if that's what's going to happen, is being--

BILL MOYERS: Or slithering toward war.

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, it-- when we get there we may feel as though the serpent bit us, no matter how we got to that point. But Iran should be covered through the prism of what happened in Iraq. All of the neoconservatives and right-wingers, who called for us to go into Iraq because of W.M.D.'s and because Saddam was bad. There is a history there. That history is within living memory of a lot of grownups in this country.

And unless people are willing to do the hard work of presenting the history and holding people accountable for the past, we will be condemned as it's been said, to repeat it first in tragedy and then in farce.

BILL MOYERS: Here's something I wrestle with and a lot of journalists wrestle with it. That I'd like for you to address. We sometimes bend ourselves into euphemistic pretzels in order not to call a spade a spade or a lie a lie. For example, when Rick Santorum's opponents took his words out of context to make him say something he clearly had not intended to say.

NARRATOR: On the economy, Rick Santorum says:

RICK SANTORUM: I don’t care what the unemployment rate is going to be.

BILL MOYERS: I didn't hear any prestige journalist speak up and say, "You know, that's a lie."

MARTY KAPLAN: No, what you heard instead was, isn't that something? What a deft maneuver. What a great political thing that they have done. How shrewd it was to change the focus. How merciless toward their opponents this move has been. There is admiration for playing the game brilliantly. No one is appalled. No one is shocked anymore. No one is able to say, wait a minute, that's not true. That's inappropriate. That's wrong.

'Cause if a reporter does do that, they're completely playing into the hands of the candidate, as we saw over and over in the Republican debate. George Stephanopoulos asks a question about contraception and the candidates come down on him like a ton of bricks.

MITT ROMNEY: I don’t know whether the state has the right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do, that no state wants to do, and asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing I think.

MARTY KAPLAN: "How dare you do this? That's just the liberal media." They have this trope of the liberal media, which they use in order to demonize anybody who is willing to enforce standards of accuracy.

BILL MOYERS: You once proposed that political ads be accompanied by a disclaimer. And it was this disclaimer, quote, "The scary music, photo shopped pictures, and misleading sound bites in this ad are tricks intended to manipulate you in ways of which you are not consciously aware. Voting for this candidate is unlikely to improve how awful things are." When I read that, I thought, "Fat chance."

MARTY KAPLAN: Yeah, fat chance. But at least we're talking about it. At least front and center is the notion that these ads are so powerful, because they are mini movies. They are dazzling dramas. They are full of conflict and story. We love paying attention to that stuff. We are suckered into them.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think these ads make us stupid?

MARTY KAPLAN: We start stupid. The brain is wired to be entertained. We don't pay attention to the words. We pay attention to the pictures and the drama and the story. If it's pretty, if it's exciting, if it's violent, if it's fast, that's where we are. So the fact that these mini dramas are being used to get us to vote for one person or another is just like what we all learned propaganda was used for and thought we learned our lessons from in World War II. They are propaganda. And propaganda is irresistible. If it were resistible, people wouldn't do it.

BILL MOYERS: It's why people smoke. It's why they go to war often.

MARTY KAPLAN: Exactly. And that's why even in the case of cigarettes, there is now an effort to add pictures to the packs. Because those warnings don't quite do it You've got to see an image of what your lungs look like, in order to make you not reach for it.

BILL MOYERS: And it's why when you see a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug, the picture's lovely even though the words are horrifying.

PHARMACEUTICAL COMMERCIAL #1: Common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain.

PHARMACEUTICAL COMMERCIAL #2: Severe liver problems, some fatal, were reported.

PHARMACEUTICAL COMMERCIAL #3: Shortness of breath, swelling of your tongue or throat may occur, and in rare cases may be fatal.

MARTY KAPLAN: Imagine after seeing that saying to your doctor, "You want to write me a script for that? I think it'll be good for me." And the reason is because what we're seeing is this lovely story. Somebody was sad and now they're happy.

BILL MOYERS: Don't you think most people are now jaundiced about these ads? They know it's a con?

MARTY KAPLAN: People say they know it's a con, just as they say that they are not being swayed by the ads for products that they see on television. If that were true, there would not be a multibillion dollar advertising industry. If that stuff didn't work, that would not be on the air. So no matter what we say, no matter how clever we are, we are susceptible to it. "24," that TV series, is a favorite example of mine. When--

BILL MOYERS: The series about C.I.A.--

MARTY KAPLAN: It was a rogue C.I.A. agent played by Kiefer Sutherland. And often the storyline would turn on his using torture because some terrible thing was about to happen. And even though it was against the rules, he knew that that was something you had to do. You had to overrule the handbook at moments like this. And then he would get the information from the suspect.

The problem is that torture doesn't work. Not only is it illegal and immoral, it doesn't produce the kind of information we want. But the cadets at West Point, who are watching "24," decided, involuntarily, "Well, that's how it works." So that even though their textbooks, even though their teachers in class were telling them, "Torture's wrong and it doesn't work." Even though that was happening, they were absorbing the lesson of this melodrama on television.

And it was so scary to the military brass that the dean of West Point had to go to Hollywood and plead with the shows not to do it. To tell them, "You have the power. You have a power that is beyond what you understand. And with that power comes responsibility. So please understand you can work black magic on our troops. Don't do that."

BILL MOYERS: You wrote a fascinating piece a number of years ago in a book called What Orwell Didn't Know, a collection of essays by people like yourself. And if I remember correctly, you said-- you predicted in there that the internet opened new possibilities for democracy by creating new networks of information gathering and information sharing. Do you still think that?

MARTY KAPLAN: I do. The problem is that the internet is at best the Wild West, in which that kind of information competes with other stuff in this great bazaar. I mean, at this booth over here, you get some important investigative journalism. At that booth over there, you get Charlie Bit My Finger or whatever the YouTube hit of the month happens to be. And they're all on equal footing.

And it's up to the public, the herd, in some cases, to make stuff popular or not. I'm glad, at least, that this tool has brought diversity and ordinary people's voices into the mix. Look at something like Kony 2012. Whatever the problems that there might be with that, it did prove that the public can rally around an idea and make an idea famous.

BILL MOYERS: But the internet is also awash with contaminated, unsubstantiated toxins that if you just take them into your system will mislead you too.

MARTY KAPLAN: Yes, and every once in a while I feel a need to go on a media fast. Because the stuff is so toxic that if you pay attention to it, it has to be harming you.

BILL MOYERS: You've done that recently.

MARTY KAPLAN: I have indeed.

BILL MOYERS: What did you do?

MARTY KAPLAN: I went to the high desert. And I spent a week paying no attention to television or to the internet or to the newspaper. And I didn't have a political conversation.

BILL MOYERS: You were on detox?

MARTY KAPLAN: I was on a media fast. And by the end, I felt great. The challenge was taking that wisdom of the mountaintop back into the valley of the shadow, which is where we all dwell.

BILL MOYERS: But you had to come back.

MARTY KAPLAN: I did indeed.

BILL MOYERS: And what happened when you came back and there it all was waiting for you?

MARTY KAPLAN: It was being exposed to a poison and I wanted to numb myself the moment that I was exposed to it. It's hard.

BILL MOYERS: How much bad information is too much, Marty? When does it start transforming our brain and our body politic?

MARTY KAPLAN: I think we're there now. I think there is so much misinformation out there that on issue after issue, we have opinions but not facts. And we despair of ever being able to get to the bottom of it and despair of ever having a decision being based on what is accurate, true, and useful, rather than who has the most money to put up enough ads in order to sway the public debate.

BILL MOYERS: You made a very important speech not long ago at a media conference in Barcelona. And you tried and did draw the distinction between-- you said the battle of the future is between big data and big democracy. In layman's language, what is that?

MARTY KAPLAN: Big data, the age of big data that we're supposed to be in, refers to the way in which, as we go on the internet, as we do all these media activities, watching television, which are at the center of our lives, we're leaving a trail behind. We're giving bits of ourselves up. And that set of bits is being collected and mined relentlessly.

So every time we buy a product or send an e-mail or vote how many stars to a restaurant, all this stuff creates a profile that companies buy and sell to each other. And that stuff is being used currently not only to market to us, to target ads toward us, but it's also being used to profile us. There's something called "web lining." Which is similar to what used to be called "red lining." The-- that phenomenon, which is now illegal, in which people who were discriminated against because of the neighborhoods they live in. Right now--

BILL MOYERS: Banks drew a red line around impoverished neighborhoods that they would not then serve.

MARTY KAPLAN: Exactly. And so today imagine if you were to permit a private detective to follow you as you went to your drug store and bought a medication to help you with depression or as you made a phone call to a bankruptcy lawyer, because you needed one. Imagine if that kind of information could be put together and used against you to decide that you're a bad credit risk or that maybe your insurance company should turn you down, because you suffer from this problem.

That kind of information, that kind of digital profiling is something which is emerging as a huge industry. And unless there are controls on it and constraints, as they have to some degree in Europe but not nearly enough even there, we are about to kiss goodbye our ownership of our privacy and also even the ownership financially of our information. We are the people who make Facebook and Twitter worth the billions of dollars that they're worth, because we are giving up our information to them, which they are then selling and raising capital around.

BILL MOYERS: But in a libertarian era, what are the restraints and constraints against that? Where are they going to come from?

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, right now, the constraints in this country are voluntary. The Obama White House not long ago issued a digital code of conduct, which included privacy. In which they asked companies and companies did step up to it to say, "We're not going to track people if they don't want to be tracked." And other such efforts to get people in control.

But what we do know, the record of just the past couple of months, is that company after company was doing stuff to us that's astonishing, that we didn't know about. The ways in which the apps that you use on your smartphones were vacuuming up information about you, your address book and all your pictures.

Stuff that you had no idea you had consented to, which in fact usually you had not, suddenly was all owned by other people, as well. You have not given permission, but that essential part of you is now not yours. That's the name of the game now. This is baked into the business model of data mining, which is at the heart of so much of the digital economy.

BILL MOYERS: But that's big data. You talked about big democracy.

MARTY KAPLAN: So at the same time as our data is being mined, there is this movement to protect people using technology to give them the power to say, "I'm not going to opt into this stuff.” We're still at the beginning of this industry. And there has to be rules of the road. And part of those rules include my attention rights. My rights to control my identity, my privacy, and my ownership of information."

BILL MOYERS: In your speech in Barcelona, you pointed to two simultaneous covers of TIME Magazine appearing the same week. One for the editions in Europe, Asia, and South Pacific, and it was about the crisis in Europe. The other, which appeared in the American edition, featured a cover about animal friendships. You use these two covers to illustrate the difference between what you call "push journalism" and "pull journalism." What's the difference?

MARTY KAPLAN: Push journalism is the old days, which seem no longer to apply in the era of the internet, in which an editor, a gatekeeper, says, "Here's the package which you need to know." All of that is ancient history now.

Instead, now, it's all driven by what the consumer is pulling. And if the consumer says, "I want ice cream all the time." And whether that ice cream is Lindsay Lohan, or the latest crime story, that's what's delivered. And as long as it's being pulled, that's what is being provided. So it's quite possible that in the U.S., the calculation was made that the crisis in Europe and the head of Italy would not be a cover that one could use. But that pet friendships would be the sort of thing that would fly off the newsstand.

BILL MOYERS: So the reader is determining what we get from the publication?

MARTY KAPLAN: On a minute by minute basis, stories that the reader's interested in immediately go to the top of the home page. There are actually pieces of software that give editorial prominence to stuff that people by voting with their clickers have said is of interest to them. No one is there to intervene and say, "Wait a minute, that story is just too trivial to occupy more than this small spot below the fold." Instead, the audience's demand is what drives the placement and the importance of journalistic content.

BILL MOYERS: So George Orwell anticipated a state as big brother, hovering over us, watching us, keeping us under surveillance, taking care of our needs as long as we repaid them with utter loyalty. Aldous Huxley anticipated a Brave New World in which we were amusing ourselves to death. Who's proving the most successful prophet? Huxley or Orwell?

MARTY KAPLAN: Well, I think Huxley is probably right, as Neil Postman said in—

BILL MOYERS: The sociologist, yes.

MARTY KAPLAN: --in Amusing Ourselves to Death. That there's no business but show business. And we are all equally guilty, because it's such fun to be entertained. So you don't need big brother, because we already have big entertainment.

BILL MOYERS: And the consequences of that?

MARTY KAPLAN: That we are as in Brave New World, always in some kind of stupor. We have continual partial attention to everything and tight critical attention on nothing.

BILL MOYERS: Shall we go to the high desert?

MARTY KAPLAN: I'm ready if you are.

BILL MOYERS: Marty Kaplan, thank you for being with me.

MARTY KAPLAN: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: You’ve heard us talk at times about George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, and the amnesia that sets in when all of us flush events down the memory hole, leaving us at the mercy of only what we know today.

Sometimes though, the past comes back to haunt, like a ghost. It happened to me recently watching the news. You may have seen this:

REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN WEST: I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party […]It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

BILL MOYERS: That’s Congressman Allen West of Florida, a Republican and Tea Party favorite. At a local gathering, he was asked how many of his fellow members of Congress are, quote, “card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists.” Listen again to his reply:

REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN WEST: I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party […] It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

BILL MOYERS: Little of what Allan West says ever surprises me. He’s called President Obama “a low-level socialist agitator,” said anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car is “a threat to the gene pool,” and told liberals like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to “get the hell out of the United States of America.” Apparently he gets his talking points from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or the discredited right-wing rocker, Ted Nugent.

But this time I shook my head in disbelief. Seventy-eight to 81 Democrats, members of the Communist Party? That’s when the memory hole opened and a ghost slithered into the room.

The specter stood there, watching the screen, a snickering smile on its stubbled face. And I did a double take. Sure enough, it was the ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin farm boy who grew up to become one of the most contemptible thugs in American politics.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: There is that small, closely-knit group of administration Democrats who are now the complete prisoners, and under the complete domination of the bureaucratic communistic Frankenstein which they themselves have created […] They shouldn’t be called Democrats, they should be referred to properly as the Commiecrat Party.

BILL MOYERS: It was the early 1950’s. The Cold War had begun and Americans were troubled by the Soviet Union’s rise as an atomic superpower. Looking for a campaign issue, McCarthy seized on fear and ignorance, to announce his discovery of a conspiracy within: Communist subversives who had infiltrated the government.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: I think we’ve got a much more serious situation now than Communist infiltration of the C.I.A. […] the question of Communist infiltration of atomic hydrogen bomb plants.

BILL MOYERS: In speech after speech, McCarthy would hold up a list of names of members of the Communist Party he said had burrowed their way into government agencies and colleges and universities. The number he claimed would vary from day to day and when pressed to make his list public, McCarthy would stall or claim he had accidentally thrown it away.

SENATOR JOHN McCLELLAN: Have we yet received the names, and I assume they’re in the file, of the claimed 133 Communists that are ready for investigation? I’ve asked for them. Have I yet received them?

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: You’d know better than I, Senator.

BILL MOYERS: His failure to produce much proof to back his claims never gave him pause, as he employed lies and innuendo with swaggering bravado.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Now the hard fact is, the hard fact is that those who wear the label – those who wear the label Democrat wear it with the stain of a historic betrayal.

BILL MOYERS: McCarthy, wrote one historian, had “stumbled upon a brilliant, demagogic technique. Others deplored treachery. McCarthy would speak of traitors.”

And so he did, in a fearsome, reckless crusade that terrorized Washington, destroyed lives, and made a shambles of due process.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Now, Mr. Chairman, do I have the floor or do I not?


SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Oh, be quiet. Mr. Chairman?

SENATOR STUART SYMINGTON: I haven’t the slightest intention of being quiet, Senator McCarthy.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Mr. Chairman, do I have the floor?

SENATOR STUART SYMINGTON: The Counsel is running this committee and you’re not running it.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Mr. Chairman, do I have the floor?

BILL MOYERS: Millions of Americans lapped it up, but in the end Joe McCarthy would be done in by the medium he had used so effectively to spread his poison: television. The legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow bravely exposed McCarthy’s tactics on the CBS program, See It Now.

ANNOUNCERM: On the week’s news.

EDWARD R. MURROW: This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.

BILL MOYERS: Then for 36 days that spring, on live TV, during Senate hearings on McCarthy’s charges questioning the loyalty of the Army, we saw the man raw. Exposed for the cowardly scoundrel he was. The climactic moment came as the Boston lawyer, Joseph Welch, defending the Army, reacted with outrage when McCarthy accused his young associate Fred Fisher of Communism.

JOSEPH WELCH: Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: I know this hurts you, Mr. Welch.

JOSEPH WELCH: I’ll say it hurts.

SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: Mr. Chairman, as a point of personal privilege, I’d like to finish this.

JOSEPH WELCH: Senator, I think it hurts you, too, sir. If there is a God in heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further. I will not ask Mr. Cohn any more witnesses. You, Mr. Chairman, may if you will, call the next witness.

BILL MOYERS: McCarthy never recovered. His tactics had been opposed from the outset by a handful of courageous Republican Senators, and now they pressed their case with renewed vigor.

I was working that summer on Capitol Hill during my college break, and finagled myself into the Senate chamber the very day one of them, Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont, introduced a motion to censure Joseph McCarthy. When it eventually passed 67 to 22, McCarthy was finished. He soon disappeared from the front pages, and three years later, he was dead.

It all came back the other night, as Congressman West summoned those foul spirits from the vasty deep. The ghost stepped out of the past.

Like McCarthy, the more Allen West is challenged about his comments, the more he doubles down on them. Now he’s blaming the “corrupt liberal media” for stirring the pot against him – a trick for which McCarthy taught the master class. And the Congressman’s latest fusillades continue to distort the beliefs and policies of those he smears – no surprise there, either.

And to help him continue his fight for the “heart and soul” of America he’s asking his supporters for a contribution of ten dollars or more. There could even be a super PAC in this – with McCarthy’s ghost as its honorary chairman.

Plenty of kindred spirits are out there to sign on. Like the author of the book The Grand Jihad who wrote that whether the president is Christian or not, “the faith to which Obama actually clings is neocommunism.”

Or the blogger who claims Obama is running the country into the ground “by way of the same type of race-baiting and class warfare Communism cannot exist without.” She goes on to say his policies are “unbecoming to an American president.”

From there it’s only a short hop to the column that popped up on the rightwing website Newsmax, hinting of a possible coup “as a last resort to resolve the ‘Obama problem.’” Military intervention, the author wrote, is what Obama's "agenda for 'fundamental change' toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America." The column was quickly withdrawn but not before the website exposed it.

So beware, Congressman West, beware: in the inflammable pool of toxic paranoia that passes these days as patriotism in America, a single careless match can light an inferno.

With all due respect, you would serve your country well to withdraw your remarks and apologize for them. But if not, perhaps there are members of your own party, as possessed of conscience and courage as that handful of Republicans who took on Joseph McCarthy, who will now abandon fear and throw cold water on your incendiary remarks.

Coming up on Moyers & Company: a life along the border. The two worlds of celebrated storyteller Luis Alberto Urrea.

Time was when all you could do with a TV program was watch it. But these days you can share your favorite show, link to it, download, comment, and even have the thing delivered straight to your phone.

So I invite you to visit us, not just every week through your television set or radio, but anytime at, on our thriving Facebook site, or wherever we turn up next. There’s a lot of media, but it’s still one mission. And I’m glad we’re on it together.

See you next time.

Watch By Segment

  • Marty Kaplan on Big Money’s Effect on Big Media

    How big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy. Plus, a Bill Moyers Essay on Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and McCarthyism.

    Marty Kaplan on Big Money’s Effect on Big Media
  • Bill Moyers Essay: The Ghost of Joe McCarthy

    How big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy. Plus, a Bill Moyers Essay on Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and McCarthyism.

    Senator Joseph McCarthy resumes his testimony before the Senate Investigations subcommittee as the group’s probe of the Senator’s dispute with the Army heads into the home stretch. June 1954. (AP Photo)
    Bill Moyers Essay: The Ghost of Joe McCarthy

Big Money, Big Media, Big Trouble

April 27, 2012

Big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, resulting in a public less informed than it should be, says Marty Kaplan, director of USC’s Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran. Bill Moyers talks with Kaplan about how taking news out of the journalism box and placing it in the entertainment box is hurting democracy and allowing special interest groups to manipulate the system.

Later on the show, Bill talks about Florida Rep. Allen West and shocking modern-day McCarthyism. Wasn’t this lesson already learned?

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  • Maryjoel davis

    can you tell me when moyers and company is shown in the baltimore area and what time

  • Ruslan Dubas

    The best show 

  • moderator

    Hi Maryjoel,

    Please go to
    and enter your zip code to find out when we air in your area.

    Thank you and enjoy!

  • doggirl

    I  sometimes think back before the days of  the internet and I wonder what did we do with all of our free time back then. I know for a fact that I used to read books much more often and now I always feel like I do not have time to read books–and then I go on line to find news or information to read. I feel like I am so inundated with things to read about on the internet that I don’t even have much desire to read books anymore. It bothers me that I feel this way and that I have in a sense changed my reading habits because of the internet. Your guest brings up some amazing points about big media and its influence on all of us. It is all very seductive and manipulative. 

  • Maryjoloftus

    Excellent show.  thanks for urging Americans to keep informed and not be persuaded by untruths.

  • Reddoor2

    Bill, I am only one among many wanting to do something, and am grateful to be old enough to remember the sixties, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, and Watergate.  Thankfully, I don’t have amnesia for what once was.  What I have done is search for information, reliable information and have cancelled my subscription services, INCLUDING my cable service, to sources of misinformation and infotainment.  Garbage in, garbage out.  I don’t watch TV, or TV ads in protest of the propaganda.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the people to boycott Wall Street, media, or any other organization that does, in fact, work against democracy.  That would get the attention of Corporate America-we can live with out your garbage. 

  • hue

    Thank you, Bill, for coming out of retirement. Not one Friday night goes by without valuable insights, sparking excellent conversations in our household. If only more people would watch your program, more mainstream-TV watchers.

  • Fenick123

    I’ve been thinking of cancelling my cable service.   I hope, in the near future, i will be able to pay for a cable station that serves people like you and I, and in an interactive way on TV. When you stop and think about it, one wonders what the future holds without us….

  • Julogue1

    So grateful for your program.  I support those here who have commended your work.   Many of us who have lived through both better and more difficult times are being joined daily by youngsters just becoming socially and politically aware.  Many won’t know that at one time it was embarrassing to be caught  misleading others.  Today it is common practice by many politicians and accepted by their supporters.  Youngsters need to know that there was a time not too long ago when the truth mattered.  A majority of journalists took it upon themselves as a responsibility.  Those were the days my friend, we (I) thought they’d never end. 

    Efforts like yours may sew seeds which may grow in the future.   

  • ExMeaSententia

    Thank you, Marty Kaplan for the spot-on indictment of the LA news broadcasts.  Shortly after moving to SoCal in 2001 I became disgusted by the lack of any substance on the local news broadcasts and sought out alternative sources of “real news.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhhhhh! The Paradox! Bill Moyers is one of the biggest manipulators of the media ever. He has been called out for his lack of objectivity countless times. Moyers continuously takes people and their words out of context so he can reinforce his ideology and use his pulpit to sway others to his line of thinking.  So isn’t it just a little duplicitous that Moyers’ would have Marty Kaplan on the show discussing the way Moyers’ actions, and the ilk of others like Moyers, have affected our “representative republic?” What’s more, is that no sooner did his interview with Kaplan end, when Moyers broke out his bias and whacked the Republican Party over the head! I have to admit, the only reason I watched his show was because I didn’t get the full dose of my news fix for the day, and I knew he would be good for a laugh. I have never seen a person so disingenuous in my life. With all the time he spends under Obama’s desk, I find it hard to believe Bill Moyers has time to do his show. I don’t care if you delete my comment; it’ll be out there with the rest of my critiques on him . . . what a hack!

  • Irena

    Outstanding presentation!  If only more politician’s had the courage to stand up for the truth!  Here in Nevada, this program isn’t even aired.  What a disgrace!  All American’s deserve the truth.  

  • Irena

    Apparently, you aren’t old enough to remember when news was truly news and journalism presented the truth.  I remember and I know the difference.  It is sad that you have to attribute alterior motives to people who speak the truth and attempt to raise consciousness to those who have not been exposed to critical thinking. 

  • Joyce Houser

    Thank you for your show tonight (May 27). I immediately remembered Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase 
    “The medium is the message” from 1964.  He was ahead of his time! Looking the quote up on the Web (of course) I found the following, which elaborates: The phrase was introduced in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.[1] McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.

  • Anonymous

    Marty Kaplan was a brilliant choice!  It’s not that he’s told us what we didn’t already know in broad strokes — most of us on this comment thread, anyway — but he brings it all together so beautifully, and complete with lots of details and examples. 

    You can tell he’s a post-secondary educator: he knows how to grasp questions quickly and answer them directly; he also knows how to package the grimmest of material and deliver it with humour and with a sense of astonishment — as if he’d only recently discovered it all.  That takes years of classroom experience.

    Much as I loved Neil Postman’s *Entertaining Ourselves to Death* when it first came out, Kaplan makes us see that what Postman was warning us about has achieved full completion.  It’s so depressing that all you can do is focus on the profound absurdity of it all.

    I think I now know why I feel compelled to follow the American elections so closely this time.  When I’m asked, I usually say: Americans are nothing if not entertaining.  But it’s more than that: I’m watching in the hope that someone will blow the whistle on it — and I want to be able to say I was there when it all went down.

    As for the McCarthy clone, he did make me wonder: Didn’t this guy see *Good Night, and Good Luck* when it came out 5 or so years ago?  If he did, he sure didn’t learn much from it.  I was there when it was happening in the fifties: like typical Canadians, we smugly laughed at the outlandish paranoia that made Americans put up with McCarthy’s silly and destructive HUAC.  It wasn’t until the 8-year, panty-sniffing investigation into every square inch of Bill Clinton’s life, with all the Grand Jury witnesses, all the prosecutions, all the people impoverished by legal fees, that I began to have some real sympathy for the lives and careers which are ruined by right-wing demagoguery.

    An absolutely terrific show, Bill Moyers.  Thanks!  

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Bill, another enlightening show.

    One of the best media alternatives I’ve found to our corporate media is Al Jazeera English. Are they biased? Yes, of course. But it’s an alternative just as the BBC is. There are also many internet bloggers as well. To those who aren’t quit familiar with this newer journalism, it’s not someone posting about what they had for lunch anymore. These are well written posts from respected and well known editorialists such as Paul Krugman, Chris Hedges and Ezra Klein as well as others.

    Though maybe lesser known, some of the most informative bloggers are professional journalists who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is with very well written posts such as the group at the Washington Monthly and NY Times Examiner, to mention just a couple.

    In the morning, my first internet “goto”  is Marie Burns at Reality Chex, who both aggregates what the major daily papers have written the day before and then offers her frank opinion, very effectively by the way, about what she thinks.

    It takes a little searching, but not much, to find the alternatives to the corporate media. I now find myself spending more time online, as opposed to on couch, getting my news.

  • Anonymous

    Well done Mr Kaplan

    A friend of mine served with the Intelligence Branch of NATO, and pointed out that the easiest  people in the world to manipulate were the ones who thought they were smart. 

    This then is the Right Wing mode of address guaranteed to capitalize on the pseudo intelligentsia’s fears and fetishes.
    Confrontations, accusations and apologies, straw man problems  miss-information, are served up as the daily fare on compliant news channels — all of which can be made to serve well, the right wing view of things.

    Comparing this to the Democrat’s (seemingly not too successful) endeavor to educate  the lay public on the issues, — makes it an easy choice of news coverage by a Media committed to  turning a profit and staying in the business of  news entertainment.

    Perhaps President Obama should not play into their hands by his posture of non-partisanship.  If a Presidential proposal is rejected out of hand and most are, then he should not blame” Congress” for not “getting together on it”

    He should name names and wonder publicly why a proposal to serve the public, was derailed by political procedures, or sidelined by attachments designed to kill it.  Make it so that the viewer hungry media could not resist his presentation.

    As steward of bandwidths, the President can demand that any official outrageous statements or charges or misstatements made against any political figure, be countered with the same air time as given the accusers, or even better make them subject to a subpoena from a grand jury to explain their actions.  
    Make known that physical threats such as references to cross hairs etc, whether  veiled or barefaced against legitimate authority will be met with commensurate measures  according to the full letter of the law.        

  • Reddoor2

     It’s easier than you would imagine!  I was paying $100 a month for cable “reality” TV which left me feeling the entire world was a dysfunctional, egotistical, self absorbed MESS!  I was getting grumpy, disheartened and depressed watching reality politics on CNN, the hate mongering on FOX (which is the station to which every TV was tuned while I was on deployment in the desert, making clear to me the propaganda machine it was).   I was finding it impossible to make a rational, informed decision about investing, buying a home, selling my home, or any of the choices Americans face in an effort to plan for, build and maintain the American dream of basic financial security.  I was lost, uninspired and angry that I was being lied to by the media that was, by design, supposed to protect democracy and truth, an paying for it. 

    Then, I discovered Roku-followed later by Apple TV.  
    For a one time investment of $60, and monthly internet access I was paying for anyway, I now have access to amazing educational, informative, and inspirational Podcasts, Democracy Now for news, Al Jazeera for a world perspective-rather than propaganda, and $8 a month for Netflix streaming movies and documentaries.   I suspect the financial models may change over time, but 2 months of cable TV has already paid for my investment in the hardware.

     It has not only been a financially wise move for me, but a good move for staying sane, positive and hopeful.  I do NOT miss MSM or cable programming.  I do not want or need drama in a world that has created  national insecurity and fear without responsibility or accountability.   I want solutions and hope and it’s nowhere to be found on MSM. 

    I would encourage anyone to make the move, if only to let MSM know we, the people expect more from them, and if they don’t deliver, we do have choices. 

  • Reddoor2

    Thanks for your comments.  I too remember when “the News” became drama and “infotainment.”  Stay tuned….we’re gonna tell you what you’re gonna wait our entire program to learn….  Sadder still is when OJ made the justice system “infotainment.”  In adopting the entertainment model, journalists, and media have sacrificed their stock in trade, the public trust, much as all of American business has done by going for short term profit. 

    What American business schools, businessmen and government forgot was that while Adam Smith advocated for self-interest, it was the “properly understood” self-interest that is predicated on preserving honor and trust.  No business will last without the trust of the marketplace, which is why IMO, they now NEED corporate welfare.  When trust is gone, the relationship is over.  That’s human nature in a nutshell. 

    Thanks Bill for being a trusted source of information, for remembering your responsibilities and for helping all of us remember ours.  We need more Texans like you!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Bill Moyers,
    As always, you shine the light of journalistic integrity into our homes each Friday night with your broadcast of  provocative & substantive topics and your excellent  choice of  guests on your new show, Moyers and Company.
    I thank you for the many of us out here who are so hungry for truthful, honest, ethical and intelligent journalism!!
    Thank you especially for your words of wisdom tonight of the Ghost of McCarthy via Rep. West.  I know that the spirits of Edward R.  Murrow and Walter Cronkite were right there with you and all of us as you admonished  Rep. West  for his insane comments about 78 Democrats being Communists. 
    Thank you for speaking up about this issue as well as every issue you tackle each week to wake up the senses of the American people to reclaim our democratic values and principles. 
    We need your voice to be heard, along with your weekly guests, to enlighten the masses that are so easily brainwasehd into the rhetoric that so many politicans and media flames of the right-wing persuasion feed to the American public.
    The power to change our course in human evolution on this fragile planet is to always speak out, organize communties, educate one another and never allow money or power to corrupt our souls!
    Bill Moyers, You have done this all of your life and I want you to know that there are many of us with you in spirit, voice and conscience!
    I told PBS that I would renew my membership, but wanted the powers to be to get you back on PBS…so I am delighted that you are back speaking your truth to power on behalf of us all!! 
    As a former Vista Volunteer and lifetime activist, I gain much support and strength of spirit sharing the weekly Friday night hour with you and your guests!
    Your voice is heard and speaks for us every week…so please know you are not alone…we are still out here doing all that we can daily to continue to effect positive change in this country and for our planet on the social, economic, political and environmental arenas.
    My warmest wishes are sent to you and your family!
    May you continue to light the airwaves with the grace and dignity that you not only have within your soul, but instill in all our souls each week! 
    With Heartfelt Love and Respect, 
    Bunny Bornstein

  • Cathymulv

    Thank you Bill Moyers for your journalistic excellence!  I sometimes wonder why I am so “dis-eased” when I am watching “the news” and regular television……I have to turn to you to be awakened out of my stupor…please keep educating me and informing the public.  Great show!

  • Dnadanyi

    Big money definitely wants to keep us stupid. I use my DVR and watch Frontline, Rose, PBS and BBC.  My friend in Italy watches Al Jazera and BBC. How did Americans become brain washed into thinking the truth is on FOX?  I hear people stating this in various venues.  I am amazed.  How can this problem be corrected because it is the biggest problem and the first step to save our Democracy.

  • Rob

    Moyers is not accessible to many since WQED in Pittsburgh is on its second channel that is not accessible via direct tv. Then to make matters worse the iPad is not able run the videos reliable . PBS Gould make this a prime time Friday show after Washington week

  • Emergency Alert

    Just as Mr. Kaplan has a dream of
    disclaimers on political ads, I too have a dream. You know how @ 3AM
    you get an irritating tone followed by “This is a test of the
    Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in
    voluntary cooperation with the FCC…” Well, maybe @ 2AM, we
    can get a similar irritating tone followed by “This is a test of
    the Factual Alert Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in
    voluntary cooperation with the FTC alert you to the following
    falsehoods that were broadcast by this station within the last 24
    hours. Since most of you are asleep right now and won’t hear the
    following truths that contradict what you heard earlier, it really
    doesn’t matter, does it? We simply want to supply you with the
    illusion that we care. Now, close those eyes and go back to
    sleepy-sleep time. (whisper) The following truths are…”

  • JimC45

    The Powers That Be have always dumbed-down, diverted, converted, perverted and rewritten “the news” to fit their agendae.  When it used to take a week or months for news to travel from town to town, city to city, continent to continent, does anyone think the “telephone effect” wasn’t a factor, and that those with a stake in the news having a certain impact didn’t manage to influence it?

  • Billy

    Marty Kaplan, as astute as he is, failed to identify who the collective “we” are. The “we” who love infotainment and the drama of conflicts between the  extremes. The “we” who can’t get enough of reality TV and celebrity worship shows. Not me. He should have identified the “we” as the dumb and dumber crowd – the herd. That’s why politicians get away with graft, corruption and continuing to spout their drivel, the media and big corporations rake in the millions with their dumbed downed TV programs and deceptive advertising. They appeal to the lowest common denominator – the herd and it’s lemmings.

  • Earl2120

    Thanks again Bill for an intriguing program.  I think we all need to go on a media- fast.  I gave up enough of my bits today.
    Thanks again Bill for an intriguing program.  I think we all need to go on a media- fast.  I gave up enough of my bits today.

  • James McRitchie

    Great program. Informative as always. However, I’d like to see you get to the heart of the problem… the lack of accountability of corporations. I’d love to see you interview someone who has been working to make corporate governance more democratic. Bob Monks comes to mind. Anne Simpson, Ann Sheehen, Nell Minow, Glyn Holton… there are many possibilities. 

    Corporations have such a strangle-hold over government and most of our other institutions that we can’t hope to have democratic governments unless our corporations are made to be more democratically governed.

  • Richard Whiteford

    Didn’t Ronald Reagan take ownership of the public airwaves away from the public?

  • Susan Humphreys

    Enjoyed the show this evening. Haven’t areas of the media always catered to the lowest common denominator to garner public attention and sell their product? I am thinking of pulp fiction, romance stories, Soap Operas, TV sitcoms, Reality TV shows. Radio was before my time but I suspect there were examples there as well. Which is why I watch a great deal of PBS. I don’t like being treated as a dummy! I want a little “beef” on my plate.

    I do however see it getting worse. The internet is a blessing and a curse. Information overload, people don’t take the time to sort through whats what, for far too many it is easier to find one site or TV station that tells them what they want to hear and they ignore the rest or worse consider the rest as lies. Many think that Americans are smart enough to not be conned but P. T. Barnum knew better!

  • johnalene

    INSTEAD OF Washington Week, which comes on the air with an ad for a major weapons maker, a railroad, an insurance giant, then in 22 minutes skims the headlines of the past few days, seemingly skewed to the left, but not really telling the dirty truth of American 21st century politics.

  • Anonymous

    I always appreciate the thoughtful, fact-based discussions on your show, Mr. Moyers. You and your program are national treasures.

    In the interview with Mr. Kaplan, however,  I was frustrated –as I have often been in conversations about the media– when the fact that the public owns the airwaves was brought up and then let drop without further consideration.

    Why oh why does no one ever pursue the implications of this public ownership?? What power does the citizenry have in regard to this state of affairs?

     If I am an owner of the airwaves, should I not have some right to control their use,  e.g., the kinds of advertisements they accept? Why are hordes of lawyers not bringing suit in behalf of the public to insist that political ads be run free of charge and equal in number for each party or something similar? Why aren’t there attorney filing suit to again require the networks to provide equal time for different points of view? Etc. etc. etc!

    Such legal actions could go a long way toward removing the power of money in politics! I am longing to hear a detailed discussion of this public ownership.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    In the contest between who was the better prophet, Orwell or Huxley, I believe it is a dead even tie because the tools of control envisioned by both men have been in constant use for many decades now.

    So, I’m watching an interview on Fox News and the interviewee mentioned “tar sands”, and, in mid sentence, the interviewer corrected him and said, “oil sands”. That degree of propaganda is positively Orwellian.

  • Anonymous

    There are a lot of unkind things one could say about Florida, but, the nastiest thing one can say is Allen West.

  • magnolia

    You’re describing a very real problem for many, if not most, educated people these days. It ultimately comes down to your own decisions though. It is possible, even after immersing oneself for years in online surface reading, to return to the deep reading and concentration that books offer. It’s hard and takes discipline, but it is worth the effort. I speak from first-hand experience. If you haven’t already read it, I suggest checking out Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. 

  • Dnadanyi

    Why at 2am? Great idea.

  • Progt1

    Fantastic information!!! However, why are mostly Republican candidates and Conservative news shows mentioned? Heaven knows they are guilty as charged! I believe that all Candidates and news programs on both sides of the issue are each as guilty as the other. I highly respect you Mr. Moyers and watch your program every Sunday morning. But, under the context delivered by the program, why didn’t you question whether or not all sides are controlling the issues?

    In my humble opinion, the information provided was essential and well thought out. I agree wholeheartedly with most of Marty Kaplan’s thoughts. I just wish we could paint the same picture for all the guilty!!

    Many of us rely on people like you to ask the questions we cannot. You have the access as well as the podium. Please try to remember us in all your interviews.

    Tom Vavak
    Kennett MO

  • GradyLeeHoward

    When pirates take control the first thing they do is adapt the law to their needs. A force outside the legal structure will be needed to alter distorted legalities to reflect community interests and needs. You first task is to admit these truths and quit expecting a white knight to appear. We live under soft totalitarianism based upon wealth worship. That’s why Kaplan could mention Huxley and Orwell with a straight face. Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Frank Herbert and many  other authors have attempted to describe our full tilt rush over the falls.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    This Culture is a factory that produces the kind of people it needs to continue. Look how different a free range barnyard chicken is from a broiler in a tiny cage. Our minds are not only colonized, they’re imprisoned. You may think you’ve escaped, but that is an illusion, because no one can do it alone.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    News is anything the Powers do. They not only report the news and make the news: They are the news.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Brand loyalty.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    The President is not as omnipotent as you claim.
    It would be as foolish to think of the Democratic line as truth as it would to believe the Republican/T(error)Party  line. They both serve the same Oligarchy. Good cop/bad cop.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Do you ever get around to thinking for yourself?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Allen West is following orders.
    What we need to find out is who employs him.

  • Potdfrog

    This program feeds my mind and soul and is a moment in media of responsible journalism, interview expertise and a storm of fresh air.
    I wish more people watched Bill Moyers & Co

  • Potdfrog

    Alan West….frightening to think about and even more so, how he succeeded in being elected. Frightening thoughts.

  • Abbas Abedi
  • Kevy99

    Perhaps Mr Moyers should become a responsible journalist and perform some due diligence in his  reporting. He is obviously content with casting Alan West as a “Ghost from the past” and portreys him as a new era McCarthy.
    If his reporting was responsible he might also want to examine the “what if”.
    What if West is right? What if the Congressional Progressive Congress members can be shown to recieve awards from the American Communist Party?

    The Founder of the the CPC, Bernie Saunders is an avowed Socialist. He is the antithesis of Alan West. I’m all for journalist who do their due diligence. Let’s see an elightened segmant on the CPC so that your viewers and listeners can decide for themselves.

    After all, you are a member of the media that was so aptly characterized by Marty Kaplan. Let’s just see you take off your Obama colored glasses and do some real investigative reporting.

  • Nicola Prioletti

    Marty hits the nail on the head over and over!

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Why is this stunt such a great idea?
    People don’t pay attention to the Emergency Alert System.
    All those Orange and Yellow Terror alerts and the recommendations to buy roll plastic and duct tape cured us of that.

    2am is the loneliest, quietest time : when the solitary soul faces his mortality.
    John Hagee, Joel Osteen and Jack Van Impe (deceased)often purchase those slots. M&C should take notice.

  • DaMama

     Politifact gave Allen West a “Pants on Fire” rating for his comments.  Moyer’s is right.

  • DaMama

     Sorry, typo. *Moyers is right.

  • Saalman_s

    It seems to me there is an inverse relationship to America’s declining educational status and the amount of propaganda we receive.

  • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    What if there are commies in your closet, Kevy99?

  • Anonymous

    If ignorance is bliss, then Rep. Allen West must be in a perpetual state of ecstasy.

  • Anonymous

    Bill — how do you do it?  How do you hit the ball out of the stadium with such regularity?  Kaplan was a breath of fresh air, and I love how he takes sabbaticals from all media which allow him to detox and really see the poison.  Your use of the pharmaceutical commercials in the segment makes me wonder if political ads should have such warnings, eg, “this ad will cause paranoia, disgusting nausea, class warfare and racial prejudice.  See a doctor if you feel like standing your ground more than once a day.”

     I saw the federal spending pie — very troubling to look at — but I would like to concentrate on one slice — the 20% that is the military budget.  We need a robust Fourth Estate, wholly publicly funded and backed by appropriate legislation; and the military slice should be sliced in half in order to fund what I describe.   It may sound Draconian, but such an infusion of money into public service outlets such as PBS will tend to protect our democracy and our treasury.  PBS1, PBS2, PBS3, etc.

  • Kevy99

    Moyers forgot to leave out this video showing Congressman Danny Davis recieving an award from a communist organization.

  • Whatever Works

    Good show. Thank you for repudiating Rep. Allen West and his un-American  McCarthyism.

  • Raytostado

    Justifies my 7 years of university studies, and 45 years in the film industry.   And I don’t feel like a skeptic or whacko.  Yes, we are in trouble. And money has no solution. We are on some sort of  self dillusionary pathway towards total mind control. My studies date back to reading the mid ’20s study of Tamar Lane’s, “What’s Wrong With The Movies?”  (1929)

  • marie jean

    Liberal left wing journalism which I prefer to call the Disneyland fairytales of yesteryear and especial what was once long ago news has been exchanged for politically correct leftist propaganda. Loved what Kaplan had to say but did not appreciate the Mcarthiasm slur on anyone not left today. Poorly done Moyer. We all go looking for real news not view now that we have Internet. There is no TV news and we are not dependant on politically and financially motivated actors that call themselves journalist today. Once you learn how to divide the extreme left and extreme right from real news, one just has to do a lot of surfing and reading and you learn what is really going on. Politically motivated journalism paid for by the chosen businesses is not the only channel to go to. So many are getting a better education that people who pretend they are journalist today.

  • marie jean

    Nice to see someone watching is thinking beyond the leftist journalist pale! I question the imbalance also but I already know why it occurred.

  • Anonymous
  • marie jean

    How did Americans become brainwashed to think the truth is on  Frontline, Rose, PBS and BBC.  Italy Al Jazera and BBC. Oh how deceived the Politically correct left is but, I must admit most of you are well trained to catch the ball which doesn’t take to much brain power does it! Saving Democracy and freedom of speech is not forcing everyone to listen to the monotonaus drone of propaganda from the politically correct left wing. Public tv has become the policitally correct nuptials of the lefttist elite just like the University’s of our day. Pity! Wake up they are burning our freedom to even think we feel for the killing of the unborn child which we all have been!

  • Newtonfan

    I just finished watching the segment with Marty Kaplan, and  I was very impressed.  He’s not bogged down being indebted to a Republican or Democratic agenda, so his observations come with a refreshing clarity.  I hope to see more guests like this. 

  • marie jean

    Boy are you in trouble if you could do no better than a pro-slamist world view of disgusting aljazeera. You live in a small world of you feel led and pulled by the Disneyland left wing news you say are only pundits that should be watched with a pro-Islamist propagandist world view. At least you have gotten off your duff to search for somethng better but don’t sit still. There is more to the world than staying in your comfort zone. 

  • Judy

    Wonderful show that EVERYONE in the U.S. needs to see.

  • Gene

    Can’t tell you how glad I am that you are on the air with true adult, substantive , discussion. I look forward to your show and your selection of  guest and subjects.  Thank you

  • Ralph L. Montgomery Jr

    Right on point. Troubling and poignant. A lesson worth learning.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers & Team- My appreciation and respect for your work. Please take very good care of yourselves and spin off as many Moyeresque journalists as your circle of contacts can create. We desperately need your focusing, organizing voice.

  • Sandy

    Thank you for having Marty Kaplan.  He was very articulate, very clear, very informative.  Too bad there is no way to get his information to the rest of the voting country, who insist America is just fine the way it is, and anyone wanting to change it, or point out the problems, is to be silenced.

  • Sandy

    You are doing exactly what Marty Kaplan talked about today.  You do not want to believe, or maybe do not want to do anything about, the 1% controlling the country right now.  I have lived 65 years, and am one of the ones who remember the past, and see it unfolding once again….because so many people like you, refuse to open your eyes and see what is actually going on.  You have just fallen into modern day “McCarthyism”, using “liberal left wing” as a slur against anyone who wants their vote to count, and to be heard by those politicians taking our money and insisting they represent us.  I am not “left”, but I see what is going on and has been for 40 years now, slowly working toward where we are now.  None of  your group, want to see it, because you might have to do something about it, or may be you think you somehow benefit from it, or maybe you are afraid it is too overwhelming and you can’t do anything about it. But half the country being used and ignored,does NOT want this to continue. By using political slurs to people with different ideas, you are also saying you want us ignored, and not allowed to speak against the harm being done us.  WE are this country too.  WE are fighting to keep it from moving back to only 2 classes., wealthy people and their servants.  

  • ABQ Barbara

    Fantastic program. My prayer is that many will hear and understand this. I pray that your closing comments about West and McCarthy are also heard. I also pray that Republicans will denounce him but I have not seen any who are bold and brave enough to stand up and be counted. Sad.

  • Yesaye2

    I feel that the reason the jounalists of today refuse to question what they hear from politicians is that their careers may be affected.  It is my feeling that they all see themselves as future cable talk show hosts and they know they will need these same politicians and access to power to further their own future earning power.  As always, money rules!

  • Myrna Rowe

    Thank you for sharing Mr. Kaplan’s views, amazing how many of us already are familiar with this but  have little course for helping.  I have found ways, and so express them but live in a very narrow thinking area!  I have expressed my displeasure at the  way news has become to the stations and only see it getting worse!  Thank you for keeping our conscience awake, Mr Moyers!  So glad to have you back on.  I am narrowed to watching PBS as my cable isn’t anythig but ads and my computer use is limited!  I have your books, has Mr. Kaplan written any? 

  • Edelfavero

    It’s hard not to agree with Mr. Kaplan, I’ve been saying the same thing about the media for sometime now. I just don’t know why he stops at Fox and CNN.  If he really wants to have credibility, be brave and take on the networks. 

  • Bycochran11

    Thank you.

  • CAG

    Mr. Kaplan is an articulate and perceptive professional, great you presented his bio first. Great show, so glad you have returned to public network Mr. Moyers, we need your voice in high schools and colleges too.  We have been tuning in to your show from its inception. Thanks for the great journalism. 

  • Lknox

    Thank you Bill. I wish there were many more people doing the job you are — you are a true patriot!
    Linda from Wisconsin

  • Saalman_s

     It’s obvious that some of that video has been altered.

  • Arm

    Should Mr. Moyers have askd Mr. Kaplan a KEY INVESTIGATIVE QUESTION?  “If, as Mr. Kaplan maintained, we are all genetically programed to seek entertainment instead of facts, WHAT, IF ANYTHING, CAN EVER BE DONE TO CORRECT THAT?”

  • Pamtaylor

    I can add little to what has been said. Thank you again for clarifying and exposing the concerns for our nation.

  • Dnadanyi

    He is not talking about the now defunt homeland security color alerts. He means the noisy weather alerts when a possiblle hurricane is approaching.  One can’t help notice the loud noise. Wish that could happen after every lie and distortion.

  • Dnadanyi

    On one of the talk shows this past Sunday someone said “People do not want to hear the truth. They want to hear what they already believe”-self affirmation. Not an exact quote but close enough.

  • Ellen Dibble

    So long as special interests pull the strings of government as they do, it seems rational for the public to see the growth of government as equal to the growth of the power of special interests.  Politics channels Big Money into government, which like a lake fueled by these eager streams, grows.  If we strangle the size of government, maybe we can strangle the power of corporations.
         That might be a lot easier than getting the Supreme Court to reverse the Citizens United decision, or getting the legislatures to reverse regulations that allow for lobbying at all levels.  If the only way to weigh in is to precipitate various heroic spectacles in the streets, we have descended.   
       I challenge the idea that propaganda is not recognized for what it is if the idea is that propaganda is new.  As the second segment of the show in regards to McCarthyism brings vividly to mind, in the Cold War era, there was plenty of propaganda here at home, demonizing anything emanating from the other side of the Iron Curtain as atheist, inhumane, etc., etc.
      Big government, so long as it is fed by floods of money/power/influence, will reflect those interests.  How not?  

  • Merl Vandervort

    Truly insightful and and important.  The best thing I’ve seen on TV in a long time. 

  • Phillip W. Johnson

    his insights calls into question the premise of democracy, and serves notice that our fears go far beyond the handiwork of Citizens United

  • Levy

    The most important question was never asked:  do we care?  Have we become so addicted to pleasure/entertainment/being amused that we don’t look to the media for anything else?  That is scary….and does fulfill Huxley’s prediction of a dictatorship of pleasure.

  • BG

    Like so many have said, “Thank God” for someone like Bill Moyers who speaks out about what is happening to our democracy. My outlook on current events completely changed after 9/11. I began searching for any and every book that could enlighten me about my world. I read from experts  in many fields and bit buy bit I came to realize how ignorant I had been before. At this stage in my life, I feel it is important to take advantage of every opportunity to speak out and write about issues that to me are important. It saddens me to see the false notions that are absorbed by so many who depend on commercial media alone for their information. Keep up your work Mr. Moyers. We need lights like yours in our world today.

  • Aloha

    What a breath of fresh air!!!  Candid/to the point/relevant!!  Thank you, Bill Moyers for bringing some good down home practical and critical observations about the world we are living in right now.  Keep ’em coming!!!!

  • Mlwillsie

    Thank you Bill! I think you are the only one on TV who tells the truth and is worthy of your position of trust. Please be careful they will probably send a “insane person” to try and keep you quiet.

  • Lava96753

    bill thank you for having marty kaplan,  corporate is the government all three branches, corporate sponsors the media, buys bothe houses and apparently the scotus,  giving us the best government that money has bought.    

  • virtus

    Great conversation! Thank you both.

  • This is the time

    Thank you to Bill Moyers for being “a voice in the wilderness”. This was a great conversation with Marty Kaplan.

  • Farid

    thank you; great interview; Kaplan is insightful. every high school senior should watch this.
    Frontline did a program on Rupert Murdoch; will you cover the Murdoch empire?




  • Dnadanyi

    I hear you.  I started reading durng the last Bush administration and I am amazed at what is going on that no one knows about. What books have you read lately?

  • Dnadanyi

    Last Sunday someone on a talk show said something that sums it up. Some people do not want to hear the truth. They want to hear what THEY believe-self affirmation.  Unfortunately people like Rush and Beck give them exactly what they want.

  • Dnadanyi

    What we really have is a merger of corporate and state. Globalization  is creating a worldwide Corporatocracy. Corporations are the new Kings and Queens of the world and, their CEOs and top executives are the 1% We are the surfs the 99%. GREED has corrupted the leaders of the world and many in Congress.

  • Billfredell

    A highlight of each week is to watch your program on the interent, Bill. I am living in Slovakia, and in depth news is hard to get from my homeland. Thanks for your professionalism, yet I worry for my country.  

  • DAS

    Thank you for such a clear and honest review of the latest political manipulation of media. While the manipulation of the media to push political agendas is nothing new, the current processes are so insidious and sophisticated that they are being effectively passed off as the truth (or should I say pravda). This has begun to concern me more lately as I see bright, intelligent, college educated professionals quoting various media as proof of their particular political stance. As your guest Marty Kaplan explained, most media sources are profit driven and as such will and air whatever makes them more money from advertisers. As Mr. Kaplan stated the current political dialogue is more of a reality show than exposition of the truth, but this is the junk food du jour of the American network viewing audience.
    Thank you Bill for holding onto a small piece of real estate in the media jungle where open and candid dialogue can take place. The recent political opposition toward public television is proof you are a fly in their mind-numbing ointment. As the push to removing funding for public TV/radio increases it is becoming clearer that to control the media is critical to control of the masses.  And even though those opposed to public media funding call it an increase in freedom, it is anything but. 

  • Viewer

    i thought that this guest/program was a bit one-sided, more complicated (good and bad) than stated; when a guest uses the word ‘studies’ or ‘reports’, i want a citation.

  • Sherry J. Blair

    Thank God I am old enough to remember. Thank you for reminding me that I still have a mind of my own.

  • DaCowes

    Saw your program with Marty Kaplan followed by your essay re: Rep. West & McCarthy. But, fear you are practically alone…
    And, your program was not distributed by PBS because they were afraid of the House and Sentate viv-a-vis future funding.

    As long as I’m writing the two best shows of yours I’ve seen were CREEDMOOR PSYCHIATRIC CENTER and the series with JOSEPH CAMPBELL. The Campbell programs changed my life. Thanks!

  • Joec903

    Wasn’t this lesson already learned? Yes, but as Gore Vidal once termed us as the ” United States of Amnesia ” it doesn’t matter. We are capable of forgetting everything.

  • Plittle

    A case in point of how low our “journalism” can go, would be the recent Rock Center show on the anniversary of the killing of OBL.

    I did not watch the show, but saw enough in a brief clip from the program in which Brian Williams,
    with the President in the Situation Room, is actually whispering, or
    talking in hushed tones if you will, as if he was in some sacred, holy
    of holies site. Oy. Really? I understand that this is a room in which
    difficult decisions are made, but I didn’t think that that much reverence and
    awe were necessary.

    But Mr. Williams, as a highly paid news reader and not a journalist,
    is expected to gush, fawn, and ask dopey

  • StupaPlinth

    I stumbled on this episode and wasn’t in the mood for the topic but ended up watching the entire interview followed by your commentary on Allen West.  Thank you.  I was actually flipping channels looking for something “light” and I guess I found it.

  • StupaPlinth

    I was thinking the same thing, they did say something about no cameras being in the situation room before, didn’t they?  I debated about changing channels as I didn’t want to relive that day.  I wasn’t impressed and when they made note of the public cheering and high fiving outside the gates surrounding the White House after the news leaked of bin Laden’s killing, it reminded me of how the cameras manipulated the US public of Muslim nations who cheered 9/11.  I don’t think Muslim nations really did cheer on 9/11…that was media manipulation, no? 

  • StupaPlinth

    Actually in reply to me, I was in a Muslim nation on 9/11/01…Turkey.  Absolutely no cheering, very solemn and sympathetic to me as an American tourist.

  • tobew

    And when “they” report the “news” did you insists on the same? 

  • tobew

    Another excellent example is the media’s treatment of the candidate Ron Paul. He is still running and in the final count won the majority of delegates in several states–did they even say boo about that? And the veterans and servicemen march to the White House this past Feb., on President’s day where the marchers turn their backs on the sitting President, did they cover that? What about the thousands that shows up to Paul’s speeches and rallies? When you have the same “gang of people” who owns the media who have their own agenda, there in lies the problem. Biggger is always the problem; it was the problem with Goldman Sachs, with the housing bubble, and everything else that was “too big to fail”–which don’t even make sense when you match it with, “the bigger you are the harder you fall.”

  • tobew

    Most of the guests on this show as well as Bill Moyers repeat the same thing Ron Paul speaks about: the problem with the Fed, the corruption, the lies, the fabrication of misinformation, the police state, the imbalance in wealth, the moral hazards of wars for the money deals–I like this station to break the current media taboo and invite him as a guest.  Dr. Paul knows the ins and outs of political corruption, a true representative of the few incorruptible politicians and they need their moment in the spot light and it would be refreshing to see what a true people’s representative would say under the smart questioning of Moyers.

  • tobew

    It is worst than that: it’s not matter of not caring but rather “what can be done about it” and that’s the mind set they want everyone to feel. That’s when people give up and become immobilized. Currently, there is no centralized vehicle, path, organization that is not corrupted by money to uphold the laws–as of right now “they” are writing laws everyday to further reduce what you can say and do in an attempt to kill the US Constitution. Rush and Beck is just a distraction. 

  • tobew

    The Supreme Court can’t reverse their own decisions.  Congress must write laws to null the Court’s decisions and render them essentially ineffective.  Congress will not write laws that will hinder their money basket.  Many of such laws have been introduced and the majority knocks it down or rewrite it so that it becomes meaningless.  If there is no wake dog, they can do whatever they want and that’s the problem, the voters are not waking them.  You can scream everyday outside the walls of Congress, we’ll still be dead to them.  Unless you write that email, pick up that phone and give them an ear full, they go right along filling their pockets.

  • tobew

    What went wrong with your comment is in your first sentence, “liberal left wing.”  FOCUS on the message not the label they labelled for you to banner with!  Left, right, middle, up, down, inside out–who cares–what’s the message.  Do you eat the same meal every night and day?  Do you wear the same clothes your entire life?  If you’re screaming about the left wing than you’re the right wing–you need both wings to fly!  Drop the political labeling, get out from under their control and think purely on the information.  Other than this, I support the concept of your remark.

  • tobew

    @Sandy:  Go Sandy go, you hit right on the nose.  I wrote my comment before reading yours and it brought a big smile to what started out as a miserable day that has just turned with your simple common message.  Thank you Thinker!

  • tobew

    Err, so what’s you beef–with the title, how something is called?  Communism really means, when you pull away the feathers: a small group of people controlling a large group of people without consideration of the needs of the greater mass.  What do you think we have in America when the 99% is controlled by the 1%?  When was the last time you can protect in a public forum without police intervention?  When did we ever get to say where and how we want our tax dollars spent?  You are stuck on labels of different soaps, but they are all soap.

  • tobew

    @dnadanyi:  Hence communism is already here under a different label, like another word for a liar is a politician–different label, same thing.

  • Mike

    As a baby boomer, I’ve witnessed this change and been plagued for some years with “Why does everyone seem lulled to sleep? So disinterested?” I had begun to think I was the only one seeing these changes and that they were “all in my head.”
    Thank you, Messrs. Moyers and Kaplan for confirming that I have some sanity left.
    I’d like to hear someone talk about how this shift to human familial disengagement fits perfectly with the phenomena of “P.C.” and disdain for judgment, “Who am I to judge?” or “It’s none of my/your business” causing more and more insularity between individuals, less and less duty people feel about returning messages or following through for others in general. People used to have a group identity. We cared for each others’ offspring, built our neighbors’ barns, fed the starving family in the next farm over. Something simply got up and walked out on our culture and no one’s left to re-instill such values. Those who still have an inkling that teaching offspring civility and engagement is part and parcel to a civilization are now too afraid of their kids to teach the lesson.

  • A Melcher

    Marshall MsLuhan warned us  in 1967 that “The Medium is the Message.”  As Kaplan informs us, we have victimized ourselves by accepting and living out McLuhan’s perception.

    Albert G. Melcher

  • Penny Fogel

    This was the most eye-opening interview I’ve sat through to the end in years. Marty is brilliant – and his conclusions are scarily true. Thank you.

  • Jamenta

    Really enjoyed listening to Marty Kaplan speak.  I found myself agreeing with everything he said – although painfully agreeing.  Thx for the interview Bill.  And thank you Marty.

  • James

    Observe the little puppy dog Stephanopulos utterly FAILING his responsibility to challenge Romney.  Pathetic

  • Greg

    Thanks Bill, for broadcasting exactly what I’ve thought of our so called “free” system for decades. I wish everyone would view this particular broadcast!

  • Ske393

    It will be pain that will correct it.

  • Leo Robinson

    Marty was so good I watched it twice. Wish I could get a DVD and share it.

  • Bunu Sean

    I have a question for Mr. Moyers :
    Why is it that even the “Progressive Media”, even people that want to help the public to hear and learn the “truth” do not bring forth,
    do not invite, do not interview,
    do not give more exposure,
    do not give more opportunities to Ralph Nader to speak to, and with us using all the available shows ?

    I also have a question for the listeners, viewers, and writers that come to this place if they would like to hear, see, and get his views, his insights, his advise ?

  • Lynhistory

    So why is the brilliant Mr. Kaplan looking over Bill Moyers’ left shoulder as if he is continuously, physically, straining to look at a TELEPROMPTER? It is positively weird to see.

  • Anonymous

    The “Keys to the Kingdom”  are locked inside the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK.  Ron Paul is the ONLY politician in my lifetime bold enough to strike a blow at the very root of our problems.  He even wrote a book titled “END THE FED.”

    I have followed the “Paulturds” citizen uprising closely online, since the amazing events surrounding his run for the Whitehouse have been ignored by every media organization, INCLUDING PBS!

    The RNC is being held in Florida, so I’m certain it will be a “fair and honest” election.  Even if you don’t agree with his platform, you should at least hear the voice of so many fellow Americans who are fighting the good fight. 

    Goldman Sacs, JPMorgan/Chase, Citi Bank, etc. do NOT support HIS campaign!

  • Dennis Merritt


    I reference and link to your interview
    with Marty Kaplan on money and politics as the best example of the
    theme I develop in my blog, “’Hunger Games’ from a Jungian,
    Political, and Ecopsychological Perspective.”
    ( We must simultaneously work on ourselves
    and with others if we are to develop the paradigm shift Jung felt was
    necessary in Western culture, what he called “a new age” and “the
    age of Aquarius.” This shift clearly will have an environmental

  • Anonymous

    Bill – Thank you for this. I am going to have my two high-schoolers watch this. I might even pay them to write three-page essays on it. If that’s bribing your kids, so be it.

  • Ken

    Well, I always wonder whether people are even interested in democracy. Maybe they would rather be entertained and don’t really care about policy–despite the fact that policy directly impact them in a negative way. Perhaps the representative democracy the founding fathers created is an anachronism.

  • Lynhistory

    Ask your kids what they think of Kaplan’s eerie stare over Bill’s left shoulder, unable to remove his eyes from the Teleprompter. Weirdest thing I have ever seen on Moyer’s show!

  • Clare Cook

    Great show. When I heard what West said about the communists in Congress my first thought was there are 57. Remember in the Mancurian Candidate when the Senator told his wife he wanted one number and there was a bottle of Heinz 57 on the table so she picked that?
    I do rember McCarthy on TV. I was in grade school and couldn’t understand why that bad man was on TV so much. I also remember Welch so clearly. Don’t remember the Murrow show but Mom said we watched it. I think anyone who pre-empted Micky Mouse Club or American Bandstand was un-American.

  • Den de Cannabist

    Thanks, good show…

    Take the money out of local communities and give it to Wall St international corporations with no allegiance to Americans. The GOP has been abducted by alien G-20 Neocons. Watch them speak, they lip sync, and sometimes it misses and you think its an old Japanese horror movie. The objective is to build a string of gas stations to Pluto with huge tankers leaking crude, collected from the rain on Neptune.

    Funding inner space exploration, what’s in-between the atoms. Might accidentally discover a cure or prevent illness. Not good for the corporatists. Outer space has more non renewables with a duel purpose. Fossil fools, not only do they run your car, they make us sick and then we buy from Big Pharma. GOPers are 100% plastic. If you drop them on their heads they crack like eggs. If you give them a thought their heads explode. These are the whiz-quiz brainiacs protesting nutrition. They ridicule the poor and protest the oppressed.

    Poison, Prisons and Potions, killing nature for geeeezus and selling wars to fund elections. Or is it selling elections to fund wars? Be the first one on your block to eat at a Mickey D on Mercury! Now that NASA Inc. has been hatched. This country has taken the brown acid…  The fiction of the liberal bias media when 95% is controlled by 5 major Neocon corporations with no liberal nuthin in any bone of their bodies. There are only a few non-bias info centers. MSM are all Co-opted by money junkies. Making them all Co-Medians…

    We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
    Abraham Lincoln

    If You Think Marijuana Isn’t an Important Issue, You’re Dead Wrong
    Pro Life? Not even anti abortionists
    Fields of Fuel
    Cover-Ups, Prevarications, Subversions & Sabotage
    Kochroach & Aleech
    Forfeiture $quads

  • Den de Cannabist

    “But it is time to acknowledge
    that the nation’s news organizations
    have played a large
    and unappetizing role in deceiving the public….”
    – The New York Times

    The Corporate Muzzle
        Trolls of Fascism

    Is Malcolm Gladwell America’s Most Successful
    Propagandist and Corporate Shill?
    Yasha Levine, eXiled Online

    “It now seems clear that ‘tea party’ movement types, organized by highly-funded corporate backed outfits like “Freedom Works” are putting together a plan to disrupt and shut down as many town hall events as possible. That’s entirely different from making sure you’ve got a lot of activists at events with t-shirts or protesting with pickets outside the venue or making sure one of your activists gets to ask a question. This amounts to a sort of civic vigilanteism.”
    The Town Hall Mobs
    By The Daily Dish, Aug 4 2009

    Corporate Welfare Rats – 03/21/09
    Strong corporate profits amid weak economy? = Outsourcing

    “Another weapon I discovered early
    was the power of the printed word
    to sway souls to me.
    The newspaper was soon my gun, my flag
    – a thing with a soul that could mirror my own.”
    — Adolf Hitler

    Alphabet Channel Alternatives

    Sen. Joseph McCarthy: Unrepentant Junkie
    Walter Cronkite R.I.P. March 1, 2006

    Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

    I am speaking of the war on drugs.

    And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.