tv A Conversation With Bill Moyers PBS March 12, 2019 3:30am-5:00am PDT
explore new worlds and new ideas through programs like this, made available for everyone through contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. hello i'm don shelby. what you're about to see is one of the most exciting and hucaling assignments of mer. i was asked to interview bill moyers. it's something like playing the piano for mozart. m because mind bill moyers is the greatest broadcast journalist of our age. he's won more than 30 national emmys, a lifetime achievement award for the national academy of television arts and sciences, nine george foster peabody awards, the broadcast equivalent of the pulitzer prize, and the dupont-columbia ree golden baton.wards, he's introduced us to some of the world's most remarkable people in his one-on-one intervis and shared with us a world of ideas. and he once took us inside hisily
in a very personal way. he's authored 12 books. i'm incompetent to properly introduce bill moyers h there's simply not enome. before a studio audience a man known for his modesty and his reluctance to talk about himself, agreed to sit down with me nv for a sation i shall never forget. ladies and gentlemen, mr. bill moyers. (upbeat music) (audience applause) - it started in marshall, texas but it started before you were a journalist.
oc something unusual rred in marshall th taught you about this america. you were the son of one of the poorest people in town anywhere else, in any other time, you wouldn't have had much of a shot. how did it happen that a poor boy got the shot you got? - i was the beneficiary of affirmative action for poor, white southern boys. if you studied hard, worked har moved around town, met people, there re men particularly men in the town who would say, "he's a comer let's help him. "he's a poor boy let's help him so the rodeo club gave me a scholarship, c the cimission let me come in and sit-in on eir meetings. i was just constantly touched by people older than i am who saw something in me
that i didn't see in myself. so t y just kept moving me from one opportunity to another. but you know in those days the gap of scome inequality was ngreat. ri one of my bestds was anne blalock, who was the daughter of the richest man in town. but we went to t same school, we went to the same parties, we ent to the same dances. and i never felt uncomfortable in the presence of the kids in town whose parents were really the more fortunate ones. and that's changed in this country today to a very disturbing exten there's very little conversation, there's very little intercourse, there's very little communication, very little participation between the poorest people, poorest kids iesour country, in our ci and those who are well off. ne but i, ir occurred to me, that i wasn't as good as anne, or it didn't occur to her that i was not her equal in our relationship, and so that little town said to me, you signify, you matter.
it doesn't matter that your dais poor. so those benefits in this small town were availabma to an ambitious younwho was white. - you are 14 years old, you're in marshall, texas, and there's a political rally, and for the first time in your life you see in person lyndon baines johnson, the senator of the state of texas. what did you think when you first saw him? - i els bowled over by theopter. (audience laughs) ow i was on thesquare and the helicopter landed. he traveled the state, this is the 1948 election, which he was beaten by 87 very contested and i have no doubt illegal votes down in the valley of texas. but he was ccopaigning hard in a heer, so who didn't want to see a helicopter in '48 the firstar that hes were used in campaigns?
and when he got off the helicopter took his big stetson and tossed into the crowd. now i later learned that he did that at every stop and he had somedy on his staff who went and got the stetson and returned it to the helicopter at the next stop so he could toss it again. rn i mean i l a lot about politics in that very moment. that realization that this was part of the game. this was just not that he had an endless supply of stetsons in the helicopter, but i remember that he spoke to the crowd without a microphone. must have been 1,000, 2,000 people, at courthouse square. big man, boisterous, stentorian in his tall, an commanding presence, i remember being stunned by the power of his persona. somen,ing you didn't see ageally, until the campaign of '64 when he was running for president fo the first time in his own right. - so you, north texas, university of texas austin,
southwest theologil seminary, would stop in edinburgh and spend some time to study. committed to becoming a preacher, preaching in two churches upon graduation. but in there somewhere is a letter that you sent to lbj suggesting that the young voice wasn't being heard as much, and maybe you ew something. and he was struck by that parently, because he called you. - i had been at north texas state college in upstate texas and i would go stop at the student union from time to time and watch the mccarthy hearing. me f you don't remember the mccarthy hearings but the extremist joseph mccarthy a senator from wisconsin on anti-communist crusade had gone beyond the limits of reasonable dialogue and reasonable politics and the senate had called him to question was about to censor him. and sitting in the student union watching those hearings i became very engaged.
don't ask me exactly why it was, as i say, i was 20 i'm 82 now that was a long time ago. but i felt maybe i wanted to be a political journalist. i planned to be a journalist i was working my way through the colleges on the publicity staff of the college covering the sports from the college awriting. i went to my office on a saturday afternoon wrote a letter to, i had never met senator johnson except to see him from the helicopter. g,and i wrote a letter say i'd like to learn about politics and you're in a campaign down here where you're trying to reach young people and i think i've got something for you and u've got something for m the letter got to his desk, he always wanted to have ar bright, young mend him. john connally became governor and many others en were youngn his staff at one time in his career. and i went to washington and spent the summer in fact whth i got off the trolle brought me over to the capitol where his senate majority office was he was getting onto the trolley, an and he took my hand said, "come on," he didn't even have a warm greeting
he just took me down a long corridor he in the basement ofcapitol or and took me down to an addressograph machine, an addressograph machine was like a sewing machine, you would hit the pedal and a metal plate would come through, the stamp would come down, and print the address on the envelope. so in-between eight o'clock at night, and seven the next morning, i addressed by foo i hadn't even'unpacked anmy bag and i hgones.ning, to the room where i was staying, and that impressed him. so then he moved me over to his own office a wer his own correspondence and there i was at 20 totally inexpeenced in this, writing his letters to eisenhower, writing his letters to the secretary of state, writing his letters to his contributors in texas, and we bonded. i was goolg back to this smallge at the end of the summer, and lyndon johnson at his desk said, "you know, i ink you ought to transfe at the end of the summer, anto the university of texas." that's where he lived and that's wre he had a television station and i said, "mr. leader i don't have any money,
"i'm going to get married, and i've got a job n north texas in denton," he said, "i'll give you a job-- - [don] ktbc? - [bill] ktbc the radio station which somehow mysteriously was the only station in the country that could broadcast all three networks (audience laughs) ha - i wonder how thaened. - they had a monopoly, the favorable gods were looking down, and i got a job th him. he had promised me that he would pay me d a hundllars a week that was astonishing in '54. was more than my fatherd ever e as i said earlier and i went down and he worked me 40 hours a week th but we boughfirst mobile unit in texas. and i used to tool around town study, rdvering accidents and s and the state senate sl the state leure and that was probably the biggest crime scene in austin. (audience laughs) but anyway that fall i had a deep, profound experience
i still have a hard time describing it. it and i decided that ps wasn't, and journalism wasn't goins to satisfy my instind my intuitions, or even be a healthy place to work. so i decided to go and teach at a religious institution, i'd get my phd first, so i went to the seminary four years. and i was graduating in late december of '59, redith and i, my wife, acking our boxes to move back to austin where i had been accepted to do my phd in american civilization and hwhich is a baptiststantshiy school in waco halfway be een dallas and austin. and it w't lyndon johnson, i haalked to himistmas, in two and a half years. he said, "bill how are you doing?" "i'm fine, mr. leader." he said, "bill how "what are you doing," he said. "i'm packing to go back to austin." and he said, "no, non i'm going to make a r it,
"i don't think i'll get it but i need you back." i hung up and i said, "judith pack for washington, "not for austin." and we went up, on the way she said "what did he offer to pay you?" and i said, "i have no idea he didn't mention it." and so i spent that year back in his office traveling with him, spending every night in some hotel, around the country, seeing all of the politicians, meeting them, watching what happened. they were heavy drinkers in those days, and after all day of campaigning they'd come to the hotel and they would drink until 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 in the morning and i had to stay up until it was over. of course i learned a lot, but gradually, that led me in the direction of washington for my career. when he didn't get the nomination he did get picked to be the vice presidtial running mate. i started to go back to texas then, and he said, "no stay through the election "then you can go." and sopa did and during the cn i was the liaison on the vice president's plane
the swoose named after the plane he had been and the caroline whichef was john kennedy's plane. ato be frank and others thave written this, who could talk boston andn jom interpret boston to austin. (audience laughs) and i became in their eyes somewhat valuable. so hen the election came and we won, barely, as you know, john kennedy came down to the lbj ranch and i'm sure that lbj set him up for this, but john kennedy was leaving and he turned on the porch of the lbj ranch rnw me leaning in the , came over and said, "i hear you're not coming with us." i said, "no, i'm going tolteachh "and i'll get my phd." d, and he sdon't you know harvard was founded "by a baptist preacher?" he said, "we neeweyou in washington," so . ntand just a few monthsworking in the vice president's office, boring job,
he was bored out of his mind, it was a non-job at that time, he said, "i don't have a speech, i'm going to speak "at this university give me a speech." on so i sat dowy little portable typewriter and wrote a speech proposing a youth corps, where did i get the idea? from hubert humphrey in minnesota he had been advocating a youth corps a peace corps, kennedy of course picked it up but so did we. and after the election i realized as kennedy announced that he was going to start the peace corps, that's what i wanted to do so i began st what became nuous and almost futile effort to rest myself free of the vice president's offe. and i was one of the founding organizers of the peace corps, became its first deputy director and i had the three best years of my life. you know it was a new effort to send young people who were not in plitary uniform out to h shape the identity of america in the world and to give them a sense of the world that they would bring back. and i can't tell you every time
i come to minnesota, every time i go to the hubert humphrey institute, i gave the keynote speech at the humphrey institute when they opened it. people come up to me, my age and younger, and they say, "we were in the peace corps, a "it wafining moment of my life." it was mine, i couldn't have been happier. and one day in early october of '63 i got a call from kenny o'donnell who was then john kennedy's most powerful assistant, "bill we want you to go to austin, "the president."s going to go down the "we sent an italian, advance man from boston, "whom i knew, jerry bruno, we sent him down there, "and he just can't, they can't understand each other. we "our effortse got to raise money. "we've got to speak in houston, o "and you've got town there and hold hands." so i did, i went down and i was holding hands with the governor and the labor people, and the liberals and the conservatives pr until thident got out of town. sitting at the forty acres club at the university of texas having lunch with the ccrirman of the state deic committee
st and the romising young member of the state senate, be barnes the maitre d' came over to me and said, "mr. moyers you've got a call," so i went and took it. it was bill paine the secret service agent t assignme in dallas and he said, "bill, the president's been shot." i immediately went back and told my colleagues and went right out to the airport, on the way, ben barnes arranged for a little aircraft to carry me to dallas, halfway between austin and dallas, robert trout on cbs said, in a haunting voice, "the president is dead." i landed at love field, starte, to town, to the hospit parkland hospital and got a di atcher's call saying, i"the president, lyndon johnson tnow, was on air force one at love field," right where we had landed. w went bact up to air force one, the secret service stopped me, wr didn't know me, and e a note--
- what did it say? - it's in the library. mr. president, don't ask me why intuitively i started calling him mr. president. i'd always called him senator, or leader. mr. president i'm here if you need me, bill moyers. a few minutes later the secret service agent came back and called me up the steps a fand there i wasr the secon air force one. came back - [don] what was going through your mind? - no awesome, my god, look at this, it was very practical, how do i help h? what's he gointo do now? 'cause he had never expected to be president, wasn't ready for it, wasn't really prepared for it. i was a practical guy. i mean in the campaign of '60, organizing the peace corps, a those weinistrative and managerial jobs. and i had never even been in the white house and i was standing at the back of that plane, saying, "how can i be helpful?" and when he went back into the bedroom of air force one
security had closed all the portholes, but he had opened the one in that inm,r office, inner bedr inner sanctum and he was looking out. quietly, very calmly, and i said, "mr. president what are you thinking?" and he said, "are the missiles flying?" here we're in e midst of a cold wa the cuban missile crisis was not long behind us, and i realized then that he had things on his mind he had nev. had on his mind befo and i just started filling in with the small details. calling the speaker of the house, just functional things, and i was good at that, and one reason he came to trust me was because i had that sense of doing the details d t being conspicuous about it. but there were no great and noble, or fearful though in mind on that plane coming back. >> hi, everybody. my name is don shelby.'s i'm the person witting
next to bill moyers in the program that you're watching. and it has been the highlight of my life. when i was first asked to hostm the progd to ask the questions of bill moyers, i knew that he was not going to be as forthcoming because he'srs a very modest , he doesn't like to talk about himself. in fact, in the first break that we took, he leaned over and apologized to me and said, "i'm sorry i'm talking so much." no, that's cool, you can talk as much as you want to. this show that you're watching was for me a labor of love, the opportunity to interview him and spend some time with him and be able to ask him about those incredible times during the johnsoadministration when he was present for the creation of what we now call history. orich is perfectly fitting journalists because it's always been said that journalistsaf write the first of history but much of what he has seen and covered and reported
has become itself history and the way he has written it, and the way he has spoken it to us will stand as a landmark of thei great jour that is produced. i'm so glad that you'reng watchis program, and supporting this television station. >> what an absolute privilege it is to be watching this superb program with you this evening. it is truly remarkable to hear bill moyers tell us about his life experiences. imagine, he is the only one still livi from that plane on the day that kennedy died. wow. hi, i'm margaret prestrud and i'm a member of public television, and i'm asking you to give your support thisar evening, as wellnd this wonderful program. when you do do it with a gift ot $84 or $7 a we will be happy to gift you the wonderful prram that we're enjoying. as don mentioned, it's not just
the program that we're seeing, that there's almost an extra hour, as well, because we just inre not able to fit it al this program. it is truly a special recollection from bill moyers. a wiift $156 or $1 a month as a sustaining member, our b gift to you withe program we've been enjoying as well as a companion book to bill moyers' journal. this is 524 pages, it is 43 interviews, every interview bill moyers setting the stage, in the studio.w it was that day it's just a fascinating read. with a gift of $252 or $21 a month as a sustaining member, we will send you the power of myth, where bill moyers and joseph campbell talk about mythology and how it is just fabulous series. not only is it the d.v.d. butls itincludes a viewer's
guide and extra footage thatt was the original that you can enjoy. these are all our way of saying thank you when you call and make that pledge of support. why don't you do it right now? call the number on the bottom of your screen or go online to show your support for this very special program on your public television station. >> when bill moyers left the l.b.j. wte house, he spent some time working on other projects and then ended up at wnet in new york city. his first touch with public broadcasting, and then, from there, he started to work with nbc and then with cbs, he jumped into eric sevareid's shoes as a commentator on the c evening news and then he went back to wnet, because he was so constrained in commercial television, he expand thought. ability to just talking to other people,
letting them expou, letting them talk, can we keep up with the nd of standard that he set? the only way we can do that is if we somehow pull ourselves together and make ney available for your local public television sthtion. is the only way we're going to continue to get that kind of journalism coverage. it means here you can trust what you get. >> you keep great conversations coming with your financial contribution to this station today. make a monthly sustaining gift a of $7 ne-time donation ofan $84 and we'll you with a d.v.d. of this program, which includes nearly hour of additional conversation, plus questions and answers with bill moyers. with a monly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156 right now, you'll enjoy the program d.v.d., plus the book
"bill moyers' journal, the convsation continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversary he power of myth" with joseph, campbell with your gift of $252 or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.v.d. set includes new footage not se in the original release, and an interview with film maker george lucas. you'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program please call and give to this station right now. thank you for your support. >>ou know, it is the job o pbs and your local station to inspire, to entertain, to illuminate, to uplift everyone in your family, everyonen your community to do a little bit more, to do a little bit better because the great issues of the day are put right in
fronof you. and you have the opportunity to make decisions, and then it makes democracy work and it'she one ofenets of bill moyers that it is a democracyle in peril, we do act, unless we do make these decisions on our own. you want the education. you want the inspiration. you want those things in your life and they're not availableer else you can watch all the cable, all the commercial channels you want to and you won't get what so i hope you will join us in supporting this station. mestican the white house, lbj pledged to carry out john f. kennedy's mission. and timeouagazine called you the man in charge of everything. (audience laughs) but the vietnam war interfered, and got in the w of these gre hopes and dreams. did you resent the war in that way,
did you resent the war as a man of the cloth? did you resent the war as a public policy? - in those first o years when i was in charge of the domestic program i didn't think about the war. as we look back and as documents are revealed it turns out that many decisions were mad in '64 and early '65 by the president, mcnamara and bundy. and as the war began to escalate it was very troubling. i wish that i had been a moral prophet, and had said, "this is gonna end in disaster." was tragic, it was one those ty which lyndon johnson isesponsible for that changed the course of our society. so frustrated the great ety programs, snuffed them out in the cradle. i mean every constituencthat wey
et for the great so program for remaking the institutions of america, schools, roads and all of that was a victim of the vietnam war. many times i left in january of '67 because i felt what i cared about was no longer being nurtured, no longer being funded, and there was no longer a priority of lyndon johnson. he had to be, when you're in a war, anyou have to fight itso i left. my influence was limited then, humbled, because the president, i was an advocate of stopping thembing of th. and i used to go to meetings in the cabinet room and i'd come in and the president said, ere comes ban the bomb bill." and they began to see me that way and therefore believed that i was skewed. - no less light thd doris kearns goodwin sat, "moyers should write the book, because all of those blanks
even in caro's work can be filled in by bill moyers." and when i read why you won't write a book about lbj i was touched professionally and personally for t.y you said you won't do would you tell people why you won't? - there were so many reasons i can't be sure i'm remembering the one that you a referring to. there were many reasons, many reasons. anrst of all, i didn'tto be the thief of his confidence. i spent hours, hours with the man alone, on the campaign trail, in those first 12 months of our time innehe white house, and hr believed that anything he said to me, he whetheas drunk or sober would become public. and secondly i lived the experience but i don't remember it that well because there were so many things coming at me.
i was telling my really good friends here this morning that when i left the white house i put all my files in 100 boxes we moved them to the brookings institute and then on up to new york when i was publisher of theewspaper. i never opened them after 25 years took them to our n put 'em in the attic, never opened them.ys i hadn't opened them for 50 years, so last year when weattic, decided to sell our house, i had to get all of those boxes out cl ing the carcasses of mice and the shells ur of cre of all kind and i opened them. and the first box i opened was the first three week iand all we could do, i didn't even have an assistant that i had known that's how we were thrust into the hurricane. five of us, six of us, the president, mrs. johnson, jack valenti, me, horace busby and a couple of others. and there were all the kennedy people but they were so grief stricken and so shattereds.
that we felt as if we were alone on the island, and the ofland was in the midshis great tsunami. my and so i just puiles and all my correspondence, cables and all that in the files, as here i9 years old and there were cables coming in from the uprising in nigeria, and the civil war in cypress, anisthe turmoil of the brgovernment which was in trouble, and the information about the movement of chinese troops th towardborder of korea, and right on down the line there was one issue after another. and what did we know about them? what did i know about them? ac i had been at the corps. even lyndon johnson who had been in many of those meetings with dresident kennedy, wh he know about them? and suddenly decisions were being made about issues for which there was very little time
to collect the evidence. you know lyndon johnson kept saying to me, in ill those years, "a mno better, a man's judgement is no better than his information." and i really believed that, and that has guided me in my journalism career the last 44 years. my opinion isn't worth a pig's ass if you don't md my saying so, unless i can back it up with evidence. - you said in a couple of places, in some of the books that you have wrten more than a dozen books. nd and the thouof hours of television that you produced. i found three references to the word atonement. a andwhere you talked abopersona. television that you produced. when you said to william sloane coffin in one of the very last conversations you had with reverend coffin. you were saying you were glad that you had grown old enough
to begin to account for in essence the sins of the past. and he said to you, "bill we have a lot to atone for." has your journalism career, and i will make it easier for you if you want to answer it this way, us beit has with me, been an atonement in a sense a redemption? - i don't look at it thaway, an. but let me say in the crucible of power you make a lot of mistakes. some of them come from character, some of them come from a paucity of information, had some of them come froe, but you make a lot of mistakes. th you don't see are consequences until you are out of the battle, till the war is over. and you can read what the other side said the other troops on the other si of the trenches or the files in north vietnamese records or in the kremlin library you don't real know
that you misjudged it or made a mistake, presidents or staff you make a lot of mistakes. and if you let the mistakes eat away at you they will destroy you. but you learn certain things, that is you're happier if you are trying to report the truth than if you are trying to conceal it. you have more fun, you feel better at night. if you're trying to find the truth instead of trying to cover it up. cr when i became press ary against my will by the way, the president went through two or three pre secretaries. he said, "i want you to be press secretary," i said, "mr. president i don't want to do it, "thank you anyway." the second time didn't do it. the third time i said, "yes," because i'd still have my shoulder out of joint here. and that afternoon i flew home to see my wife and as we went tos bed that evening,ents. she had on her red and white silk pajamas. i said, "you knoofthis is the beginninhe end."
and she said, "why?" and i said, "because no man can serve two masters." you're trying to help the presiden get his ideas across, anyou're serving his no mainterests rightly.sters." but if you're trying to help the press understand wh he's making those decisions, or what they mean, you're trying to help the press. and there were moments that grew in intensity and paranoia, in which he thought i was serving the press more than i was serving him. - but at some point you came to the conclusion standing i at the lectethe white house that you wanted to be on that side. - yes i remember it clearly. it was in the briefing room, ie my office was the ng room. by the way there were only about 40 or 50 accredited repothers in the white hous. there are now 1,100, so i had a small office, and we'd brief the press there (laughs).
i knew we had carefully arranged for the president to go to bethesda hospital and have a surgery, gallbladder sgery. but i tiuldn't let that out after three o'clock. because the first line that would have gone out from td press corps they wove rushed out and said, "johnson to go for surgery." gr and wed we called the fed, we called the secretary of the treasury, "oh no it could bring the market dn "if you do it before three o'clock. "it could bring a government down." and johnson said, "it could bring my government down so we calculated a carefully, thought out strategy, a and i would not answer estions that subject until 3:01. well merriman smith who was the dean of the white house correspondents his wife had a really close friend who oss a nurse at bethesdatal. and merriman came and said, "bill i know the president's going to bethesda
"but i have to have it confirmed." in those days pierre salger who had been kennedy's press secretary, had urged me to learn to smoke cigars, i never smoked. he said because you're going to be asked very tough questions 0and you're going to needsecond. and if you're smoking a cigar you can light it up and you've got 30 seconds to compose your answer. (audience laughs) sm so i was hooked ed a cigar on my son's front porch this afternoon, i got used to them. and anyway, so i ease up lighting my cigar and he said, "let me light it." he smoke cigarettes, so i walked around him and locked my door from the inside, took the key and put it in my pocket. from my office to the lobby where the press phones were and he said, "mnit i know it "i'm gonna go out and write it." so he opened the door, he couldn't get it open. se we wern minutes till three and he couldn't, and he started chasing me around the room. no, i'm serious, behind the desk. he started coming at me, "you son of a bitch," he said, "i know you got,
"j st nod, just confirm e way. aktherwise i'm going toyour "no answer as a confirmation." so finally he calmed down a little bit and at three o'clock i pushed the button to the outside the press came back in and i made the announcement. then they started asking all these questions and then and there i said to self, as i lighted a cigar, again, "i want tothe on their side askinquestions, "than on my side not answering them." - leuss leave the white hoand lbj and now you're a journalist. 1970 you go to channel 13 wnet and begin doing a weekly show and get television in your blood, but when you decided to have a conversation with joseph campbell can you imagine what it would have been like to walk into some place like cbs anday, "i got an idea two guys sitting down facing
"each other talking for a series "of six long shows about mythology." they would have told you, you were crazy. - they would have called bellevue hospital. (audience laughs) i wish i could claim exclive rights to the idea, but i had colleagues who talked about joseph campbell and i had read when i was at the the runiversity of texasaces and didn't understand it, ad but i had t and remembered it. and then i read that he had been advising george lucas on the star rs film. so i called him up and he said, "of course i'd love to sit and talk with you." cbs wouldn't consider it, my friends at pbs, they saw the value of it and they put up a good bit of the money that i had to raise to do it. and we did 20 some-odd hours over two summers '85 and '86 at george lucas's skywalker ranch.
- so myths are stories of the search by men and women through the ages to touch the eternal, toicance, understand the mysterious, to find out who we are. to touch the eternal, toicance, understand the mysterious, - people say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life.toicance, understand the mysterious, i don't think that's what we're really seeking.eeking iof being alive so thatng ie the life experiences that we have on the purely physical plane will have residences within that are those -m of our own innt being and reality. and so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. that's what it's all finally about, and that's what these clues help us to find within ourselves. - the reaction initialfrom the" two guys sitting there, two white guys, sitting there
ing abt mythology? and we had no promotion and it went out d within the next seven days after it first aired, after the first episode aired, stations were getting calls from people, what is this? put it back on, and ey began to run it and it grew and it grew, it's the most, it's what will be remembered fo introducing this great teacher to a mass audience. because it was repeated over and again it became for years the best fundraiser for public broadcasting. i believe there's no better production value than the power of the human face. pl when you let p look at your face, and your emotions, and your eyes, anarthe intensity in yourcipation in this conversation there's no way i could create that with technology. when you tell somebody, "i love you," if you're fortunate you tell them when you're this close to them. if you ask them to marry you, you're looking right into their eyes. there is no power greater than the human face
for the purpose of television, and television makes us intimate strangers. and so being able to sit like this and talk is probably the most personal experience av weoutside of sex. and since that's limited for many people, ly conversation is absoluhe way we entertain ourselves. (audience ughs) let me tell you a story. a year after that series aired, i was walking out of a restaurant, la caravelle restaurant, on 8th avenue, between 55th and 56th. i was walking down the street and a young, african american woman was coming this way. and as you know, television makes us intimate strangers and you think you know ioerybody you see on telev and i think some intuitive reason that i know the people who are watching, i've never lost that sense of the people on the other side of the camera. so our eyes connected and we walked on, strangers.
ne but i turned and she t and she said, "mr. moyers?" and i said, "yes," she said, ha "do yo a minute?" i said, "sure," she said, "i came to new york "t be an actress and i've had a really difficult time. "i had some good auditions "butfaone of them were satory. "my boyfrir d and i living togetr a year "he just suddenly left i haven't seen him. "i mean life just sort of come to an end for me. om "so one night i came and i went to my apartment," she pointed right across the street to a small apartment building and she said, "i went up and i turned on the burner, "i pulled down the window, i went over and poured "a big glass of bourbon," and i know you like bourbon. and n e said, "i laid downe couch "and i was really ready to go," she said, "when i had left that morning, "i had left mylevision set ,
"and i heard these two guys talking about "me,hs, and the meaning of l "and all of this and i heard one of them say, 'do you think peanle are looking for the g of life?' "and the other one said, 'no, no, no, oo 'i think they'reng 'for the experience of being alive,'" and she said, "you know something snapped in me, "and then i heard a voice of the announcer say, 'come back next week, (audience laughs) 'for the second edition of 'bill moyers and joseph campbell on the power of myth.'" - and that postponed her suicide. - she got up and said, "i poured the bouon out, "i turned the burner off, i opened the window, "and i watcheddevery one of those epi "and what i decided," standing on the street, "what i decided is i don't need to be an actress, "but i need to experience the possibility "of life every day
now those stories are common for people who watched that series, and i can't explain it to touch, and move,day, but inform, and coect people, and that's what i discovered in doing it, and why i've done it for 44 years. and why i've done a thousand or more hours of television because public affairs is more than the news of the day, 's the truth of poetry,ich is ah that you can get from any politician. william carlos williams said, "people are dying "for a lack of the news they don't get onvening news." it can cake people far away, connect people who don't know each other, intimatstrangers. i mean the marriage of the image and the word the most powerful combinatn of truth telling and experience sharing we've ever had.
it's not the cuneiform tablet, it's not the printed word which is wonderful, it bu a marriage of the two and from that coupling comes something creative. hi and when it's doneway, it is the most important an valuable contribution to our understanding each other that man has ever invented. >> i want you to think back toti a moment i when he mentioned that woman that he just bumd into on the streets, who had in her mind the idea that she was going to end helife and he heard her say, "once i saw this show, "the power of the myth" with joseph campbell, i changed mynd and i hope that you're thinking about doing the $21 a monthon donaecause if you do, you get the "power of myth," and do you know that this is still, after all of these years, 25
years, that this is still the most requested of the d.v.d.she publby pbs and made available to the public. more people still seek that. you can have that in your home. we have only pbs to thank for that. your local station. [music]>> you keep great convers coming with your financial contribuon to this station today. make aonthly sustaining gift of $7 or a one-time donation of $84 and we'll thank you with a d.v.d. of this program, which includes nearly an hour of additional conversation, plus questions and answers with bill moyers. with a monthly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156 right now, will a enjoy the program d.v.d. plus the book "bill moyers' journal, the conversation continues with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversary
edition of the seminal series, "the power of myth" with joseph campbell.$2 with your gift o, or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.v.d. set includes new footage not seen in the original release, and an interview with filmmaker george lucas. you'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program. c pleal and give to this station right now. thank you for your suprt. >> if you listen to what joseph campbell said, that people are searching for an experience ofvi , an experience for living. it changed the lives of so manyw peopn they first heard that, and then when bill talked about that a person's judgmentnl isas good as his or hert information, t an important thing to remember in this day and age.e so i hat you will support this local television station. i hope that you will support
pbs so that we continue to bring you the kind of in-depthal reporting is and mind-changing opinion-changing and altering information thatn it has always giu. >> sustaining membership is an easy, convenient and affordable way to support the programs you love. sustaining members makan ongoing monthly contribution from either their credit card or checking account. just choose the monthly amount you would like to give, then go t up for you.l and we'll get it your donation will happen automatically each month sour upport will always be current. if you want to change your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin as $ low per month. staining membership rightt your now. >> and the time to do that i right now, by making your phone call and giving a financial
contribution to help keep this station strong. when you make that phone call, with a gift of $7 a month as a sustaining member, you can have this wonderful d.v.d. to eoy hers, perhaps, to listen to more in depth and,mb re, there's d.v.d. extras included with that, an additional 49 minutes that we're not going to be seeing. with a gift of $49 a month, d you'll get t.d. but we'll send you bill moyers' journal,on "thersation continues." this is a companion book to that iconic program that hes did here on d it includes so many incredible interviews. you have robert bly talking about poetry, shelby steele on race, ere are so many in-depth interviews in here, in fact, it's 43 interviews, what a wonderful way to really joy bill moyers with this book and this d.d. or, with a gift of $21 a month, "t power of myth." now enjoyable would it be for
you to have this in your hometo isten to this conversation that has had such an impact for so many years. the important thing, though, is rks for you and your family to support this station and call the number on your screen right now. >> and i hope you remember that this is a fundraiser. this moment in time when the conversation with bill moyers is sort of series and we're talking about serious issues but i want you to know that allk you have to do is ack on your own experience in your life and the importance of pbs and the shows it has brought you, and the joy that it has brought you, the information that it has brought to you, and the way that it has helped your children, the shows that have been so important to them fromre "sesame " all the way to this program today.er so, remehat this local station is your lifeline to incredibly important information, and so it is worth your te and your dollars.
>> you keep grt conversations coming with your financial contribution to this station today. make a monthly sustaining gift of $7 or a one-time donation of $84 and we'll thank you with a d.v.d.f this program which includes nearly an hour of additional conversation, plus questions and swers with bill moyers. with a monthly sustaining gift 6 $13, or a donation of $ right now, you'll enjoy the program d.v.d. plus the book "bill moyers' journal, the conversation continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversary edition of the seminal series "the power of myth" with joseph campbell. with your gift of $252 or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.d. set includes new footage not seen in the
origin release, and an interview with filmmaker george lucas. you'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program. please call and giveo this station right now. thank you for your support. >> your contribution in any amount would be appreciated. we know what the economy is like, we know that some people not so well.tter, some people those people who are doing better, maybe it's time to look deep into your hearts and souls and say, should i bear the weight of the time i spent in front of the television withat this television n pbs show that i'm watching or should i let someone else pay foinit? well, i the real answer to that is, no, i probably should pay my fair share.t' that's all tbeing asked. and to pay to the degree that you can afford. i heard one time someone say y th should give until it hurts. i think better way to say thatil is to give ut makes you
feel great. and if you believe that this station and pbs has been important to you and will be important in the future, the only way that it can be important in the future is ife th funding. with all the news out there today, it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction.ou but herean trust what you get from your station.gi please give an generously. ! want to read you a quote which you know and many people in our audience wl probably know the first half, this is a quote from thomas jefferson. r "whenee people are well informed "they can be trusted with their government." now that's what is usually quoted. but actually that quotation goes on, so and jeffcontinues, "that whenever things get so far wrong "as to attract their notice, they may be relied upon
"to see em to rights." and can americans be relied upon to set the wrongs to right? - times, at times, generalizations are generally wrong, and i would not say the american people generalizations are are not informed, many are not, 't they dant to be informed. so they move through life with a limited supply of what it takes to think critically, but many others are, it's like journalism. i don't spk of the media anymor because o'reilly's in the media and bill moyers is in the media and we are different journalists. but no, i think today, with the complexity of the issues, although in those days they were complex issues of forming a government and there was no rapid communication.
in i don't people are as informed as we need for democracy to function for government to be held accountable for huge economic institutions to be checked with balance. the whole secret of democracy is not that people are virtuous or not, it's that some are virtuous sometimes and they're notrtuous othe, and some are not virtuous and then they are. what wanneed is checks and bs it's the balance of power, when both parties are trying to do the right thing, or one's trying to do the wrong thing and the other's holding it account. so i don't think the american people are as a whole, are as informed as we need for democracy to work and it's very difficult today en given most people all day making a living, holding two jobs, raising a family, trying to help in their church, trying to work as volunteers at the public television station they're busy. that's why the accountability of politicians is so important because they're a profession people
designed to solve the problems but democracy should be able to solve the oblems it creates for itself and we're not doing that right now. you're ouse is on fire, don, it cour home here onf and we'rearth is on fire.right now. our economy is not performing for millions of americans our highway systemis coming. by depending upon theto politicians and bureaucrats who we elect are employed to take those problems that none of us alone can solve and we're not, ou thisry is unraveling, and we need not only more information we need more time to be active citizens change does come but it never comes swiftly, and it usually comes from the botm up. and there are people out there on the front line trying to fight climate chge, trying to take on the climate deniers, trying to solve the problems thank god for them all of that.
in but they're up a almost insurmountable odds and if we had a truly independent, non-partin, truth telling media we'd be in a lot better shape. you know there's a great line in the play night an day by tom stoppard, where the photographer in that play says,play "people do terrible things to each other, "but it's worse when they do it in the dark." e and wettling into a dark period in american life, during which everybody's happy because we're amusing ourselves to death. we watch how many hours, i go on the subway in new york city and every week they put new posters up there arewsew cable television s and new plays on broadway and all of that. and there's so much to do and the web is constantly consuming obsessively consuming people. nt there's so much totain us that as my friend the late neil postman who taught communications
idat new york university n his famous book, amusing ourselves to death, we will probably die laughing because of the little we kno - it comes down to this issue it seems to me, bill, that it's the difference between providing people what they need to know versus what they want to kn. and the invention of, the survey, where we have asked the public what would you like to see on the news? ni as opposed to, d this is what you're getting. because this is whatu neew in order to be a citizen and cast a reasonab. informed opinion vo we don't, or they, don't do it anymore. because ratings, circulation, are more important. - there's a prophet in treating viewers as consumers
instead of citizens in the great gift d of public television blic radio is that we still somehow with the help of people like this it's been able to hold to the idea of the american people as a community of citizens, not consumers. (audience applse) years ago, don, i met a professor of english a great cultural critic at yale, a man named cleanth brooks. and he talked about the bastard muses and there were three baard muses. propaganda, which pleads for a particular point of view sometimes unscrupulously at the expense of theotal truth.
nt entality, which works to create an emotional response in excess of and unwarranted by the occasion. and pornography, which focuses on one powerful drive at the expense of the whole personality. in that little interview i did with cleanth brooks, i don't know a long time ago, comes to my mind almost every time i try to watch the news on corporate news, because it is propaganda, largely, sentimentality, largely, and pornography, in the terms of its twisted viewf the human being and they have tso twisted the heart of what it means to be a citizen. and journalism is a fallen profession, rs almost like the profession it is said, but it is still our only hope when bo parties when i was in politics i believe it was
the responsibility of one party to tell the truth about the other party, neither party does that today. - i would call joseph heller a curmudgeon i suppose and in your interview with him he says these in sort of fright things, here's what he said ew in the interith you, "democracy we celebrate is full of illusions "such as participatory democracy," he called voting, "a ritual and a delusion that comforts us, "indispensable to our contentment but "absolutely useless in application." do you agree? - not with you absolutely, but i do believe that voting is easy and democracy's hard. democracy, so it happens, between elections in our local communities in our state house and elsewhere and it reques participation people who go to school board meetings, and struggle, an.argue for what they wa
so i don't agree wholly with him. i don't believe in pure democracy, i don't believe you cat an e and enough people will be able to be well informed and act on it you have to read the sentiment of the public and this is the terrible consequen of too much money in politics. represfltative government is ed but necessary form of democracy. we stod our representatives he state house here or to washington to makee bess they can for their constituents. they're never going to satisfy all the constituents but mavee sometimes they don'tsatisfy most of the constituents but we hire them to make good judgments. today most politicians, there are exceptions fortunately, but most politicians are more responsive reto the donors than theyo the voters. so that a representative democracy is skewed,
corrupted, by the fact that moof the outcomes of politics. and that's why what's happened to representative government we need a democracin whicl a sense as with public television co that they're well idered in the programs we've put on and the policies we adopt in politics and we don't rave that at the momenely. i mean we have a dysfunctional government in whington today. by the way, i do have a reverence for the constitution because they attempted to try to create rn a gont of, by, and for the people, even though they discovered that was a very difficult thing. but they had this built-in conflict, that i didn't realize when i was growing up, i mean the man who wrote, qu "all men are created," with his hand on that pen that was the same hand that caressed d the breasts ighs of his slave, sally hemings.
different time, diw erent morality, but uld he reconcile writing these noble words, "all men are created equal," when he bedded a young woman over whom he had total domination d and she do what he wanted her to do? they had these children together, how do you reconcile those opposites in your mind? i don't know but it is that conflict in the intelligence and decision making of the people in power that we have to constantly question. and so i have a different view of the constitution i mean i didn't even kpw when i was growing that it protected slavery, and that many of the founders were slave owners. en slavery is wlike a dark thrd through our history and our founding fathers were culpable.
and the point of it is that change has to come from people li us who don't take for granted or take with finality what those in power tell us and who fight for the justice and the liberty and the equality that is mentioned in the declaration. to me the declaration is the much greater, more powerful, of the instruments of our government. so when you keep revising, the older you get, you keep revising what you know. that's why living to an old age you're lucky to have your health is a wonderful, internal, and perpetual university. - final question, to you mr. moyers and that is would you repeat for them a story that joseph campbell said to you at the conclusion of all of the interviews when it was finally done. r when he asked whetu intended
to stay in this line of work? - yeah we had been togeth those two summers and i was leaving to come back, it wasn't the last time i saw him because when i got back to new york and started editing i remembered i had looked at all the footage and i hadn't asked him about god. so i called him at his home in hawaii and i said, "joe i didn't ask you about god. "would you come to new york let's do one morshow?" so he did, but when i was leaving, as when ieaving skywalker ranch for the last time th he walked e out to our car. and he said, "are you going to stay in this?" i had not been certain about journasm not been fixed in my trajectory. "are you going to stay in this work?" and i said, "yes, "think so," and he saill, good." he said, "e you want to change rld "change the metaphor. "change the story." instead of metaphor, the heroes journey is one
as he describes it as, "the person man or woman "who goes out to an unknown place, "faces dangers and terrors and drama, "returns with the prize after the fight "and tells the story and from the story "we then the heroes of it can begin our own heroes journey." bill moyers i speak for a lot of people, but this is very personal, you are the metaphor. you are the heroes journey, and i thank you so much for being a part of this evening. - well thank you. (audience applause) >> important information that
you receive on this television station can be entertaining.as iteen entertaining. it's entertaining to your children, it's entertaining to you. some of the great dramas, masterpiece theater, all of that is entertainment. but when it comes to public affairs journalismthis is the place you turn when you want to create for yourself an informed partnership.w, s a person who's worked almost a half of a century in commercial television, i can tell you this, that it is a popularity contest. they're seeking people who will watch them and in order to do that, commercial television gives people what they want to know as opposed to what they need to know. that was part of the conversation with bill moyers. but at the same time, i need to tell you that that is not a question that your station is asking. its not asking the questio whether it is popular, it is requesting whether you nd the
information it is about to provide. you see what's on your screen right now. for $7, that's $84 a year, this d.v.d., which is the d.v.d. of the program that you're watching right now, but i need to hasten to add for you that there is almost an hour additional information. we talked so much th we simply couldn't get it all into this one program but we put it on the d.v.d. so you'll get to hear bill moyers continue tou' talk about things not seeing on this program. plus, we had a studio audience and they ask questions of bill moyers which he answers in his in imitable way. so please think about this $7 an montmake sure this is in your house. >> you know how you make sure that is in your house, h you make sure public television is in your house, you give a contribution. this is what it's about, you come together with others in our community that keep thisn statrong. when you give a gift of $7 as a sustaining member with an ongoing pledge, we will be happy to share with you this
wondful program with all tha extra material that we are not able to enjoy. now, with a gift of $13 aer month, this isspecial because not only will you get that d.v.d. of this fascinatingt conversationou will also get his companion book to his l.ogram, "bill moyers jour every interview has a personal introduction from bill moyers, setting the scene for you, as it is.oy you will eaving it in your home. now, with a gift of $21 a month, our gift to you is a wonderful iconic series, "the power of myth." this is a six-hour seminal series that we've talked so w much aboh joseph campbell. not only is it that but there's. extras, there's a 28-minute interview with george lucas and there ispa also a 1 viewer guide that goes along with that. what's up to you rig now, though, is to decide you want to support this wonderful station by calling the number at the bottom of the screen andn saying youto be part of wonderful television. >> i hope you're thinking right
now about the importance of this station to u and your family, what it means, what it has meant over the period of time oyour family's growth, what it's meant to you personally and whether you wante to bonally involved in supporting the kind of coprogramming that you hav to expect from this station. i hope you're thinking about that and i want you to knowth there is not a great deal left in this program, and we t would liask you to support this station so that we ntinue with this. i hope that you would support with money ts station in order to make sure that kind of programming continues on pbs. i hope you will think very, very hard right now about getting up, picking up the phone or going to the website and making your donation right no to become a member of something that is already a part of your community.ta >> susining membership is an easy, convenient and affordable way to support the programs you
love. sustaining members make an ongoing monthly contributionom ither their credit card or checking account. just choose the monthly amount you would like to give. theno online or call and we'll get it set up for you. your donation willappen automatically each month so your support will always be rrent. rrent. if you want to change your sustaining membership, just contac monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. go online or call to start your sustaining membership right now. ♪ music >> you keep great conversations coming with yourinancial contribution to this station today. $7 or a one-time donation oft $84 and we'll thank you with a d.v.d. of this program, which includes nearly an hour ofn, additional conversatlus questions and answers with bill moyers.th monthly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156
right now, you'll enjoy the program d.v.d. plus the book "bill moyers' journal, the conversation continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series.th enjo25th anniversary edition of the seminal series,th "the power of with joseph campbell. with you are gift of $252, or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.v.d. set includes nefootage not seen in the original release, and an interview with filmmaker george u'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program. please call and give to this station right now. station right now. thank you for your support. if you thi about the fuel of your automobile, whether you're using me kind of petroleum or using the energy of the sun or using batterpower, or a combination thereof, it is how much power you can put into a
vehicle that tells you how good that performance is going to be. that's kind of a long way of saying that it is your contribution that powers yourrs station, that pobs. the more power you put into it, the greater the performance you're going to get out of it.t so if then ts is doing -- so if you think that pbs is doing a pretty good job right now, just think what it would d the participation of everyfit member in the community who relies on what goes on on pbs and on your station. think about how much it has meant to you over the years, how much it means now. support your public television station. >> you know what, you can suort your local station right now for programs like this and all of the other programs that you enjoy, how you it is call the number o the bottom of your screen or you go online, whatever works for you and your family' budget.
perhaps you would like to support th a gift of $7 a month as a sustaining member and get the d.v.d. of theog wonderful m that we're enjoying. or the gift of $13 a month and not only gethat d.v.d. but also get the bill moyers' journal, the companion book to that with 43 interviews. or maybe $21 a month would worko you and your family's budget and you would like to have "the power of myth" to enjoy along with the program that we're watching," conversation with bill moyers." these are all suggested levels. choose an amount that fors you you and your family and call the number on the bottom of your screen or go online right now to show your support.r >> whether yvorite programs are the costume dramas that you love so much, you like downton abbey, victoria, youu like mr. selfridge, ke these programs or you like the science programs, you like nova, or maybe you like frontline, the question is, are
you one of those people who fit in the category at the end or the beginning of each program that says, this program is made possible by the following foundations and viewers like you. when you watch theserograms, are you one of the viewers they are talking about? did you make a contribution? are you shirttailing on someone else's contribution? are you confusing pbs and this station with commercial television, that all you have to do is sit through some commercials? you don't see commercials on these stations. you will not seehat on pbs. what you will see is content like no other content you'll receive.er no not on cable television, not on commercial it's time, as we end the end of this program, it is time to t ma decision to donate now so that at the end of the " program when you sis program has been made available by people like you" you are on
of tse people. >> he want to thank everyoneon who's calledht. appreciate that phone call so very much. but if you haven't called, there's still time for you, but now is the time to make the decision to go from being a viewer to being a contributor, to being somebody whmakes programs like this possible. think about all the programs that you and your family enjoy in your home. name them off to youelf. i bet this is a lot, isn't there? think about the value that that brings to you, think how much you enjoy turning on this station and being enlightened, learning something you didn't inknow before or maybe wata child's face as they are introduced to a concept they have never heard before, the delightful giggles as theyar something brand-new. that's all here and it's all possible because of you. you are the power in publicn' television so you make that donation right now? won't you make that phone call?
become a sporting member today. >> make a donation to this station and to pbs, it counts. it does make a difference. the level that we can supply great information, great public information, great public policy information, great drama episodes, all of the great science and wildlife shows, that makes a difference based on your donation. $7 a month, you can get this conversation with bill moyers, which you've been watching she tt i want to remind you t it contains almost an hour ofad tional programming, additional conversation with bill moyers. we're inn interesting, interesting period in ourme history and it is o develop an informed opinion. he's had 83 years to develop that opinion and we've been the beneficiaries of that, in his truth. for truth, objective
not faith and belief but truth. to find something that i undeniable. if two plus two is four, that's a fact. it wouldn't be five or seven,d ba what the political whims or what someone believes.w ld be for. that's the kind of reporting that you get here. and you will hear him here, you'll hear him here before you hear him anywhere else fl so we're asking you to think and think seriously about supporting this station. make sure that this kind of programming continues throughout, for your children and for your grandchildren. (audience applause) (upbeat music)