Moyers' 'citizen journalism' returns to PBS
By Frazier Moore
By Frazier Moore
Self-proclaimed "citizen journalist" Bill Moyers, who tore himself away from the TV grind a little more than two years ago with the explanation "maybe finally I've broken the habit," is returning to weekly television.
"Bill Moyers Journal" premiered Wednesday night — it moves to its regular Friday slot tonight — with the first of a scheduled 99 hours airing through February 2009, by which time Moyers will be within sight of his 75th birthday.
So what? He's long since journeyed past retirement age with no sign of slowing down.
Though aswirl in "round-the-clock scripting, narrating and editing sessions against implacable deadlines" (as Moyers outlined it in a hasty e-mail), he stole a few moments to text some musings on what lies ahead.
To describe the overarching mission of "Bill Moyers Journal," he paraphrased Benjamin Harris, editor of America's first newspaper in the 1690s: "To give an account of such considerable things as have come to my attention."
On tonight's edition, his attention will be focused on such issues as the Justice Department's firing of eight federal prosecutors — and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' role in what appears to be political shenanigans.
The program will also mark the fourth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" — President Bush's landing on the banner-sporting aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and his pronouncement that "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended" — with help from investigative reporter Carlo Bonini, author of "Collusion: International Espionage and the War on Terror."
In a commentary, Moyers will assess the war's crushing cost.
Then the hour closes with a profile of Grace Lee Boggs, who at 91 is still going strong as a philosopher and grassroots activist.
"Week in and week out, it's Moyers & Friends on politics, culture, religion, books, media and money," he declares.
Such a robust recipe is no surprise. This veteran journalist has always been at home with subjects ranging from the power of myth to drug addiction and the environment, from modern dance to government corruption.
His humanist advocacy has been honored with more than 30 Emmys and 10 Peabody awards.
"Bill Moyers Journal" follows "Buying the War," a 90-minute documentary asking how the evidence disputing the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 went largely unreported.
There was a trio of documentaries titled "Moyers on America" on PBS last fall, and, before that, "Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason," seven hourlong programs examining belief and disbelief he hosted last summer.
In short, it hasn't been much of a break, despite Moyers' intentions voiced in December 2004 that he was signing off for good.
That was when he left "Now," a weekly magazine show he had created, produced and anchored (and which continues on PBS with host David Brancaccio).
Moyers has never denied being a liberal, but, in his decades of interviews, he has provided a forum for people of all stripes. Many of them were individuals — both prominent and unknown — who TV otherwise overlooked.
"We threw the conversation of democracy open to all comers," he said when he left "Now."