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Part Two: Bill Moyers Departs PBS

On Monday we told you how Bill Moyers, the departing host of PBS’ “Now,” has turned his show into a virtual infomercial for misguided environmental causes. Moyers used “Now” to provide a platform for the very activists he funds as president of an anti-corporate foundation. Worse, Moyers rarely acknowledged his financial support he provides his guests. Moyers has worked particularly closely with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to promote false fears about harmless amounts of chemicals.

In 2001 Moyers produced a two-hour documentary about the chemical industry. A New York Times review lambasted the program, saying:

His program takes the tried-and-true expose path: the industry is the easy-target bad guy, and everyone else is the victim. How shameless is he? He wraps up the report by invoking that guaranteed tear-jerker, “the children,” even though practically none of the preceding 90 minutes has involved children.

Along with several other eco-activist organizations, EWG formed a campaign called “Coming Clean” to promote Moyers’ broadcast. As the Manhattan Institute’s indispensable Walter Olson pointed out, around the same time, EWG was trying to drum up lawsuits against the chemical industry. Olson wrote:

An outfit called the Environmental Working Group has recently taken a much higher profile through its close association with “Trade Secrets”, a trial-lawyer-sourced (and, say its critics, egregiously one-sided) attack on the chemical industry that aired March 26 as a Bill Moyers special on PBS. Spotted around the same time was the following ad which ran on one of the FindLaw email services on behalf of EWG: “Thought the Cigarette Papers Were Big? 50 years of internal Chemical Industry documents including thousands of industry meeting minutes, memos, and letters. All searchable online. Everything you need to build a case at”. Hmmm … isn’t PBS supposed to avoid letting itself be used to promote commercial endeavors, such as litigation?

Yes, PBS is supposed to avoid letting itself be used to promote litigation. But as long as Moyers — the “journalist, reporting the evidence, not an environmentalist pressing an agenda” — is running “Now,” the tax-payer supported PBS has indeed become a propaganda mill.

As should be obvious at this point, Moyers is steadfastly anti-corporate, complaining that “for years now the ruling ideology, the ruling religion of America, has been free markets. Its god is profit. Its heaven is the corporate boardroom. Its hell is regulation. Its Bible is the Wall Street Journal.”

Despite Moyers’ antipathy for corporate boardrooms, his foundation maintains a healthy stock portfolio of American businesses. It even includes companies Moyers has attacked on PBS. The foundation owns 3,400 shares of Dupont and 18,300 of Nova Chemicals. Here’s just one more example, out of many: Moyers apparently sees nothing hypocritical about using the dividends from 24,350 shares of General Electric to — you guessed it — attack General Electric. Describing his documentary on the Hudson River, Moyers lauded activists who fought “tooth and toenail over PCBs dumped in the river by GE.”

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