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Bye-Bye, Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers, who won more than 30 Emmy awards during a long career in broadcast journalism, will give up his weekly PBS show “Now” after the November elections. Although he claims to be “a journalist, reporting the evidence, not an environmentalist pressing an agenda,” Moyers moonlights as president of the Schumann Center for Media & Democracy, which distributes millions every year to radical environmental and anti-business activist groups. Schumann grantees are then given red-carpet treatment on “Now” — to discuss the very causes Moyers funds them to tackle. The level of hypocrisy and sleaze involved in Moyers’ personal crusade is absolutely astonishing.

In June 2003 the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes reported that Moyers “flagrantly indulges in the same conflicts of interest, Washington logrolling, and mutual back-scratching that he finds deeply objectionable in, well, everyone other than Bill Moyers.” Hayes provided a “partial list of the groups Moyers has funded and featured on his show without disclosure.” These Schumann grantees include green zealots like Friends of the Earth ($166,500 in funding), the Union of Concerned Scientists ($335,000), and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen ($411,000).

The most interesting entry on Hayes’ list is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), to which Bill Moyers has funneled at least $234,000. EWG and Moyers have worked hand-in-glove to terrify the public about infinitesimally small and completely harmless amounts of chemicals in the environment. “Now” featured two lengthy (and 100 percent friendly) interviews with EWG in 2003. Before introducing EWG president Ken Cook in April — to discuss a project Moyers himself participated in — Moyers intoned: “our bodies are laboratories for a vast chemical experiment. We’re bombarded daily by toxins. They’re in the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe.” While Moyers never let viewers know that he funds EWG, he was thoughtful enough to put an unabashed advertisement for EWG’s work on his PBS-hosted website.

Moyers and EWG recognize that their anti-chemical crusade’s biggest liability is the 1989 Alar-on-apples scare, which is generally recognized as one big hoax. It was perpetrated on the public to raise money for the Natural Resources Defense Council (another Moyers donee that has appeared on “Now” without full disclosure). The NRDC paid David Fenton’s “food-scare extraordinaire” public relations firm to cause general hysteria about Alar, which they claimed caused “as many as 5,300” childhood cancer cases a year. Since EWG’s various campaigns are modeled on the Alar scare (and since David Fenton sits on EWG’s board), EWG is still trying to convince Americans that Alar was a real threat after all.

In 1999 EWG released a widely-criticized report called “How ‘Bout Them Apples,” which, once again, declared that America’s children were in grave danger because of pesticides and other chemicals on fruit. The same year, Moyers paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times, produced by EWG, reading: “10 YEARS AFTER ALAR, APPLES STILL NEED A CLEANUP.”

Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that Alar never posed any threat, Moyers’ PBS website still includes a
prominent link
to an article titled: “The Alar Scare was Real.” The article was published in the September/October 1996 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. And guess what. The 1995-1996 Schumann Foundation annual report lists a “three-year grant of $2 million to help the Columbia Journalism Review achieve financial stability.” Does Moyers care so much about retroactively legitimizing the Alar hoax that he would buy off a publication that prides itself on being a “watchdog of the press”? You be the judge.

Stay tuned for more on Moyers tomorrow.

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