November 16, 2002
God Bless Bill MoyersTV newscasters have degenerated into a motley lot indeed. With Peter Jennings we are presented with a massive explosion of ego, with very little basis to support it as he does little more than read the corporate line in a convincing way. Dan Rather seems to have good intentions, but is muddleheaded and apparently unable to see through the criminal tendencies of the political thugs he interviews. Tom Brokaw, too, has a very nice voice and is quite handsome, but is no match for devious characters like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et. al. Sam Donaldson is arrogantly and eagerly serving the power structure with every devious word, about as authentic as that hair. George Will is an extreme right wing operative posing as a "pundit."
But Bill Moyers has somehow survived in the system as a man who earnestly attempts to serve the traditional ideals of journalism, the constitutionally defined role of the fourth estate. Once the press secretary for President Johnson, Moyers is still contributing more to the survival of a democratic society than all the above-mentioned media lackeys.
Last night on Moyers' PBS show "Now", he interviewed Larry Klayman, Chairman and General Counsel of Judicial Watch, the non-partisan public interest group. Klayman is an avowed conservative who went after the Clintons with a vengeance over Gennifer Flowers and also sued Hillary Clinton to make public the documents of the task force that put together plans for a national health plan. Now Klayman is going after Cheney for hiding the papers for the energy task force in which the administration's energy policy was created, largely by Enron chairman Ken Lay and other energy tycoons.
Moyers asked Klayman about the strange fact that Klayman is giving such a hard time to conservatives, calling them "your friends" in Washington. Klayman said they are not "my friends," and "though they are Republicans, they aren't necessarily conservative."
He pointed out instances in which the administration serves special interests, even when it contradicts the conservative principles they say they believe in, such as protecting the steel industry with protective tariffs that may upset the international system of free trade.
Cheney is subject to the same laws as Hillary Clinton was, Klayman said. These are public documents and the American people have a right to see them. Klayman also discussed Cheney's questionable practices as chairman at Halliburton.
Moyers also interviewed Laura Restrepo, the Colombian author of The Dark Bride and Leopard in the Sun. Restrepo's books are fictional treatments of the violence and horror of life in Colombia, with billions of dollars of U.S. military aid coming into the country to support the government in its war against druglords and revolutionaries. There are 50,000 violent deaths a year in the small country. It all goes back to oil, which American oil companies began exploiting in the '40s and '50s. Now the U.S. government poisons the landscape to kill coca plants in its war on drugs. The peasants grow it because they can sell it and they are too poor to feed their families. There is a huge demand for the drugs in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. What is wrong with this picture?
"We have so many problems," Restrepo said. "They are greater than we can understand. But if I tell the stories of these people, it may help people in the future to understand."
Because there is so much death in Colombia, she said, people glow with a certain kind of light because they are so aware of the preciousness of life. "I think every Columbian living inside or outside Columbia, there is-- this living in extreme difficulty, which marks all of us," Restrepo said. "And at the same time, I don't know why-- we have such a joyous, free life. We enjoy life. The presence of death, having it always so near, always as a possibility, makes life shine, and human warmth be felt very strongly..."
Moyers said someone had told him that in Colombia death had become a way of life.
"Death, risk, and danger are always awful things," she said. "It's not a matter of falling in love with them. But of falling in love exactly with the opposite. When life-- when death is near, then life shines, with-- with a very special glow. And I believe that's what you feel when-- when you go in Columbia. It's a murderous country, it's a dangerous country. Maybe the most dangerous country in the world nowadays."
She said she loves America and loves the American people, but the government is very bad. She said she fears that her country will disappear, "that in 10 years we will not exist as a nation."
Why doesn't she like the U.S. government? "I believe they're very hard on the rest of the world. They don't know the rest of the world. They don't care about the rest of the world. They do not have the slightest idea of all the hatred that's growing in places. Imagine-- of-- I am 53 now, Bill. And for all my life I have only known violence. The main thing for me is that my boy can grow up and not having my boy killed, and the rest of my family."
For the transcript of Moyer's interview with Laura Restrepo, see PBS.org