CROWD: Yeah! Arf! Arf! Arf! USA! USA! USA!USA!
Legendary Broadcaster Bill Moyers Returns to Airwaves With Critical Look at How U.S. News Media Helped Bush Admin Sell the Case for War
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers is returning to the airwaves of PBS tonight to launch his new series Bill Moyers Journal. The debut episode is titled “Buying the War.” Moyers makes the case that the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush Administration to go to war on false pretenses. Two and a half years ago Moyers retired after a 30-year career where he became one of the most recognizable faces on public television. Moyers joins us to play excerpts of “Buying the War” and talk about the media, the late journalist David Halberstam, corporate consolidation of the airwaves, and the hope he sees from the grassroots. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers is returning to the airwaves of PBS tonight to launch his new series Bill Moyers Journal. The debut episode is titled “Buying the War.” Moyers makes the case that the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush Administration to go to war on false pretenses. In a few minutes Bill Moyers will join us here in our Firehouse studio, but first, an excerpt from the program. This part includes an interview with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather who gives his own mea culpa for the media's coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Clip from “Buying the War.”
“Buying the War” airs tonight on the new weekly program Bill Moyers Journal. This marks the return of Bill Moyers to the airwaves of PBS. Two and a half years ago he retired after a 30-year career, where he became one of the most recognizable faces on public television. Bill Moyers joins us in our Firehouse studio.
- Bill Moyers. Host of the new weekly PBS program "Bill Moyers Journal.” Up until 2004, he hosted NOW with Bill Moyers for three years. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a spokesperson for Lyndon Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 (thirty) Emmy Awards and the author three best-selling books.
- Clips from “Buying the War.”
AMY GOODMAN: Legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers is returning to the airwaves of PBS tonight to launch his new series Bill Moyers Journal. The debut episode is titled “Buying the War.” Moyers makes the case that the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses. In a few minutes, Bill Moyers joins us here in the firehouse studio, but first, an excerpt from his debut program. This part includes an interview with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, who gives his own mea culpa for the media’s coverage in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Good evening. I am pleased to take your questions tonight.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] Two weeks before he will order America to war, President Bush calls a press conference to make the case for disarming Saddam Hussein.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Iraq is a part of the war on terror. It’s a country that trains terrorists. It’s a country that could arm terrorists. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] For months now, his administration has been determined to link Iraq to 9/11.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: September the 11th should say to the American people that we’re now a battlefield.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] At least a dozen times during this press conference, he will invoke 9/11 and al-Qaeda to justify a preemptive attack on a country that has not attacked America. But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims. Listen to what the President says.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This is a scripted --
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] “Scripted.” Sure enough, the President's staff has given him a list of reporters to call on.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Let’s see here… Elizabeth… Gregory… April, did you have a question, or did I call upon you cold?
APRIL RYAN: I have a question.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: OK. I’m sure you do have a question.
ERIC BOEHLERT: He sort of giggled and laughed, and the reporters sort of laughed. I don't know if it was out of embarrassment for him or embarrassment for them, because they still continued to play along. After his question was done, they all shot up their hands and pretended they had a chance of being called on.
APRIL RYAN: Mr. President, how is your faith guiding you?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My faith sustains me, because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.
ERIC BOEHLERT: And I think it just crystallized what was wrong with the press coverage during the run-up to war. I think they felt like the war was going to happen, and the best thing for them to do was to get out of the way.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you for your questions. Good night.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] Our story begins with the horror of 9/11.
9/11 ONLOOKER: Oh, my god! That looks like a second plane.
BILL MOYERS: [V.O.] Like everyone else, journalists were stunned by the death and devastation.
REPORTER: [ABC News, 9/11/01] This is as close as we can get to the base of the World Trade Center. You can see the firemen assembled here, the police officers, FBI agents. And you can see the two towers. A huge explosion now raining debris on all of us. We better get out of the way!
AARON BROWN: [CNN Live, 9/11/01] And there, you can see perhaps the second tower, the front tower, the top portion of which is collapsing. Good lord.
PAT DAWSON: [NBC News, 9/11/01] If there is a war, it’s a war against terrorism that started -- rather ongoing right now -- it started here at about quarter to nine this morning.
DAN RATHER: There are no words that can describe this.
I was deeply moved by 9/11. I don't know of any American who wasn't. I think we all bought into it, that the world had changed.
BOB SIMON: I think the atmosphere in the United States after September 11 was so overwhelmingly patriotic and overwhelmingly “we must do something about this.”
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
CROWD: Yeah! Arf! Arf! Arf! USA! USA! USA!USA!
DAN RATHER: George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. And, you know, as just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where.
I didn't mean it in a journalistic sense. I know it may have come across that way. I meant it in the sense as an individual citizen: Mr. President, if you need me, if you need me to go to hell and back for my country, I will do it.
But I’ll tell you this. If they could go down to ground zero here in Lower Manhattan -- and you referred to it earlier -- and see the following, see those firemen -- take this [inaudible], will you?
DAVID LETTERMAN: OK, I tell you what --
DAN RATHER: Well, I can finish.
DAVID LETTERMAN: No, no, no, Dan. Take care, yourself. We’ll be right back here with Dan Rather.
BILL MOYERS: What I was wrestling with that night listening to you is, once we let our emotions out as journalists on the air, once we say we’ll line up with the President, can we ever really say to the country the President is out of line?
DAN RATHER: Yes, of course, you can. Of course, you can. No journalist should try to be a robot and say they have attacked my country, they’ve killed thousands of people, but I don't feel it. What you can do and what should have been done in the wake of that is suck it up and say, “OK, that’s the way I feel. That’s the way I feel as a citizen. And I can serve my country best by being the best journalist I can be. That's the way I can be patriotic.” By the way, Bill, this is not an excuse. I don't think there is any excuse for, you know, my performance and the performance of the press, in general, in the roll-up to the war -- there were exceptions, there were some people who I think did a better job than others -- but overall and in the main, there’s no question that we didn't do a good job.
AMY GOODMAN: That was former CBS News anchor Dan Rather in an excerpt of “Buying the War,” which airs tonight on the new weekly program Bill Moyers Journal. When we come back from break, Bill Moyers joins us live. Stay with us.