1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
  2. white souse, n.1: A blog for literature, politics, science, and the occasional cocktail.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Magnificent Moyers

Bill Moyers -- winner of more than thirty Emmys and lifetime achievement awards for his extensive and principled career in documentary journalism -- has a new show on PBS: the Bill Moyers Journal. Or rather, it's a very old show; it's also the title of his first show with PBS, which ran in the seventies (largely before I was born). I am a *huge* fan of his work, ever since watching a rerun of one of his pieces on the Iran Contra scandal.

His new show started last month, and already he's had amazing interviews with Jon Stewart (also a fan) and Josh Marshall, the Talking Points Memo editor and web reporter who (along with the his team of two) played a central role in breaking the United States Attorney firing scandal. Also of note is his interview with British intellectual Jonathan Miller about his new show on atheism (Moyers is a devout and liberal Christian). All of the new episodes of Bill Moyers Journal are available on the PBS website -- which means I stayed up all night last night watching.
The standout piece, to my tastes, was his inaugural episode, "Buying the War," on how the mainstream media allowed themselves to be conned by the Bush administration into vocally advocating for the invasion of Iraq. It's a story that's gotten some muted play, but never a comprehensive investigation in a broadcast outlet. I imagine the broadcast news would find it too painful. Moyers interviews a huge and impressive cast, from Tom Brokaw, to the Washington-bureau editor and chief correspondents for Knight Ridder who got the WMD story right from the beginning (and were ignored by their peers). In large part, it details the reasons why the major news organizations got the story so wrong -- the political and social forces which drove the truth underground. Most striking is the attempt of figures like Brokaw to come to terms with the failure of America's watchdog to fulfill its function. It's a gripping documentary, as Moyers' tend to be. I suggest that you watch each and every episode now -- Moyers is remarkable for his nose (how many other journalists are covering the ways in which blog journalism or Stewarts' fake news show are positively affecting public discourse and political accountability?). Moyers has been around long enough, and achieved enough, that he doesn't need to worry about how the Next Big Thing might affect his job.
A closing moment of Zen -- Moyers and Jon Stewart talking about our Goodfellas president:

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