tv A Conversation With Bill Moyers PBS March 16, 2019 6:00pm-7:30pm 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 humbling assignments of my career. i was asked to interview bill moyers. it's something like playing the piano for mozart. because to my mind bill moyers is the greatest li broadcast jour 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, three george polk awards, and the dupont-columbia golden baton. most remarkable people in his one-on-one interviews 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 there's simply not enough time. bemare a studio audience a known for his modesty and his reluctance to talk about himself, agreed to sit down with me for a conversation i shall never forget. ladies and gentlemen, mr. bill moyers. (upbeat music) nc (audapplause) - it started in marshall, texas
bsomething unusualore uoccurred in marshall that taught you about this america. you were the son of one of th 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 hard, moved around town, met people, there were men ic paarly men in the town who would say, "he's a comer t's help him. "he's a poor boy let's help him." so the rodeo club gave me a scholarship, the city commissiolet me n and sit-in on their meetings. i was just constantly touched by people
older than i am who saw something in me so they just kept moving me but you know in those days the gap of income frinequality was not so great. one of my best friends was anne blalock, who was the daughter of e richest man in town. one of my best friends but we went to the same school, we went to the same parties, we went to the same dances. and i never felt ecomfortable in the prese of the kids in town whose parents re really the more fortunate ones. and that's changed to a very disturbing extent. there's very little conversation, there's very little intercourse, there's very little communication, ry little participationtween , poorest kids in our country, in our cities, e and those who ll off. but i, it never occurred to me, or it didn't occur to her that i was not her equals anne, soin our relationship, anhat little town
said to me, you siify, you matter. it doesn't matter that your dad is poor. so those benefits in this small town were available to an ambitious young man who was white. - you are 14 years old, you're in mahall, texas, ti and there's a pol 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 was bowled over by the helicopter. (audience laughs) i was on the town square and the helicopter landed. he traveled the state, this is the 1948 election, which he was beaten by 87 ve contested and i have no down in the valley of texas. but he was campaigning hard in a helicopter, so who didn't want downto see a helicopterexas. in '48 the first year that helicopters were used in campaigns?
so i went down to the town square and when he got off the helicopter took his big stetson and tossed it into the crowd. hw i later learned thdid that at every stop and he had somebody 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. i mean i learned a lot about politics in that very moment. that realization that this was part of the game. no this was justhat he had an endless supply of stetsons in the helicopter, but i remember tt he spoke must have been 1,000, 2,000 people, at courthouse square. g n, boisterous, stentorian in his tall, commandier presence, and i remeeing stunned by the power of his persona. something you didn't see again, really, until the campaign of '64 when he was runng for president for the first time in his own right. - so you onorth texas, universitexas austin,
southwest theological seminary, woulcod to in edinburgh and spenbecoming a preacher,.it preaching in two churches upon graduation. t 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 knew something. and he was struck by that apparently, because he cled you. - i had been at north texas state college in upstate texas and i would go stop at the student union wafrom time to time and h the mccarthy hearing. some of 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 e of reasonaalogue and reasonable politics an the senate had called him to question was about to censor him. an the senate had 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 s 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 the college covering the sports from the college and writing newsletters. i went to my onoice on a saturday aft wrote a letter to, i had never met senator johnson t excesee him from the helicopter. and i wrote a letter saying, i'd like to learn about politics re and yon a campaign down here where you're trying to reach young people and i thinyoi've got something fo and you've got something for me. the letter got to his desk, he always wanted to have bright, young men around him. were young men on his staffnos at one time in his career. and i went to washington and spent the summer in fact when i got off the trolley that brought me over to the cajitol where his senateity office was le was getting onto the tr and he took my hand and said, "come on,"
he didn't even have a warm greeting he just took me down a long corridor in the basement of the capitol opened the door and took me down to an addressograph machine, an addre aograph machine was liewing machine, you would hit the pedal and a metal plate wod come through, the stamp would come down, and print the address on the envelope. so in-between eight o'clocat night, and seven the next morning, i addressed by foot 275,00envelopes. i hadn't even unpacked my bag and i hadn't gone to the room where i was staying, and that impressed him. e so then he movedover to hie to answer his own correspondence and there i was at 20 totally inexperienced 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 going back to this small college at the end of the summer, and lyndon johnson at his desk said, "you know, i think you ought to transfer to the university of texas." that's where he lived and that's where he had
a television station and i sd, "mr. leader i don't have any money, "i'm going to get married, and i've got a job "in north texas inn't denton," he said, - "i'll give you a job-- on] ktbc? - [bill] ktbc the radio station which somehow mysteriously was the only station in the country that could broadcast all three networks. (audience laughs) - i wonder how that happened. - they had a monopoly, the favorable gods were looking down, and i got a job with him. he had promised me that he would pay me a hundred dollars a week that was astonishing in '54. it was more than my father had ever made in his life as i said earlieand i went n and he worked me 40 hours a week mobut we bought the firstle uni. and i used to tool around town study, covering accidents and murders and the state senate the state legislature and that was probably the biggest crime scene in austin. (audience laughs)
but i still have a hardhad a eptime describing it.ce and i decided that politics wasn't, and journalism wasn't going to satisfy my instincts and 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 decber of '59, judith and iurmy wife, were packingoxes to move back to austin where i had been accepted to do my phd in american civilization and had a teaching assistantship at baylor university which is a bfwtist school in waco h between dallas and austin. and the phone rang, it was two days after christmas, and it was lyndon johnson, i hadn't talked to him s. in two and a half ye he said, "bill how are you doing?" "i'm fine, mr. leader." "what are you doing," he said. "i'm packing to go back to austin." and he said, "no, no, i'm going to make a run for it,
"i don't think i'll get it but i need you back." i hung up and i said, "judith pa for washington, "not for austin." and we went up, on the way she said, "what did he offer to pay you?" and i diid, "i have no idea h't mention it." (audience laughs) 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, te and 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 ve stay up until it was of course i learned a lot, but gradually, th led me in the direction wa. when he didn't get the nomination he did get picked to be the vice presidential runni mate. i started to go back to texas th, and he said, "no stay through the election ." "then you can and so i did and during the campaign i was the liaison on the
vice president's plane the swoose named after the plane he had been on in the pacific, briefly during world war ii, ca and thline which was john kennedy's plane. and i got to know the irish mafia, to be frank and others have written this, i was the only person on johnson's team who could talk boston and interpret boston to austin. (audience laughs) and i became in their eyes somewhavaluable. so when the election came and we won, re , 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 saw me leaning in the corner, came over and said, n "i hear you' coming with us." i said, "no, i'm going to teach at a baptist school "and i'll get my phd." and he said, "don't you know harvard was founded "by a ptist preacher?" he said, "we need you in washington," so i went. and just a few months into working
pr in the vicident's office, boring job, he was bored out of his mind, it was a non-job at that time, and i had written a speech for lbj, he said, "i don't have a speech, i'm going speak "at this university give me a speech." so i sat down on my little portable typewriter and wrote a speech proposing a youth corps, where did i get the idea? from hubert humphrey innesota hg a youth corps a peace corps, kennedy of course picked it up but so did we. and after the election i realiz as kennedy announced that he was going to picstart the peace corps,e. that's what i wantedto don what became a strenuous and almost futile effort to rest myself free of the vice president's office. 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 military uniform out to help shape the identity of america in the world g and e them a sense of the world
that they would bring back. i come to minnesota, and ievery time i go to thetime 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, s and th, "we were in the peace corps, "it was a defining moment of my life." it was mhae, i couldn't have beeier. and one day in early october of '63 i got a call fromuldn't nny o'donnell who was then john kennedy's most powerful assistant, w "bill t you to go to austin, "the president is going to go down there." "we sent an italian, advance man from bosn, "whom i knew, jerry bruno, we sent him down there, "and he just can't, they can't understand each other. "our efforts, we've got to raise money. "we've got to speak in houston, "and you've got to go down there and hold hands." so i did, i went down and i was holding hands with the governor and the labor people, nd and the liberalsthe conses until the president got out of town. sitting at the forty acres club at the university of texas having lunch with the chairman of ttt state democratic com
and the most promising young member of the state senate, ben barnes the maitre d' came over to me and said, "mr. moyers you've got a call," so i went and took it. e it was bill paine secret st assigned to me in dallas and he said, "bill, the president's been shot." d immediately went back ld my colleagues we an right out to the airport, on the way, ben barnes arranged for a little aircraft robert trout on cbicsaid,alfway in a haunting and dallas, "the president is dead i landed at love field, started to town, to the hospital, parkland hospital and got a dispatcher's call saying, "the president, lyndon johnson now, was on air force one at love field," rit where we had lande "thwent back, went upn johnson nowto air force one,e one the secret service stopped me,
he didn't know me, and i wrote a note-- t - what didy? - 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 ancethere i was on air fne. - [don] what was going rough your mind? - no awesome, my god, look at this, it was very practical, how do i help him? what's he going to do now? 'cause he had never expected to be presint, wasn't ready for it, wasn't really prepared for it. i was a practical guy. those were administrativef '60, and managerial jobs.corps, 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?" an 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 inner office, inner bedroom, 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 the midst of a cold war, the cuban missile crisis was not long bind us, and i realized then that he had things onis mind he had never had on his mind before. 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 and not being conspicuous about it. but there were no great and noble, or fearful thoughts >> hi, everybody. my namis don shelby.
i'm the person who's sitting next to bill moyers in the program that you're watching. and it has been the highlight en i was first asked to host the program and to ask the questions of bill mors, i knew that he was not going to be as forthcoming cause he's a very modest person, 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 this show that you're watching was for me a labor of love, thew opportunity to interim and spend some time with him and be able to ask him about those incredible times during the johnson administration when he was present for the creation of what we now call history. which is perfectly fitting for journalists because it's always been said that journalists write the first draft of history but much of what he has
seen and covered and reported has come itself history and the way he has written it, and the way he has spoken it to us great journalism that rk of the produced. i'm so glad that you're watching this program, and supporting this television station. >> what an absolute privileg it is to be watching this superb program with you this eveninma it is truly able to hear bill moys tell us about his life experiences. imagine, he is the only one still living 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 youup to give yourrt this evening, as well, around this nderful program. when you do do it with a gift of $84 or $7 a month, we will beha y to gift you the wonderful program 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 were not able to fit it all into this program. it is truly a specialre llection from bill moyers. with a gift $156 or $1 a month as a sustaining member, our gift to you will be the program we've been enjoying as well as a companion book to bill moyers' journal. this is 524 pages, it is 43 interviews, every interviewon has a pe introduction by bill moyers setting the stage, telling you w it was that day in the studio. it's just 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 talked about mythology and how it impacts our lives. it is just fabulous series. t not only is d.v.d. but
it also includes a viewer's guide and extra footage that was not in the original that you can enjoy.es are all our way of saying thank you when you call and make that pledge of support. why don't you do it ght 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. white house, he spent some time working on other projects and then he ended up at wnet in new york city. his first touch with public broadcasti, 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 cbs evening news and then he went back to wnet, in commercial televisitrained didn't have the ability to t
expaught. just talking to other people, letting them expound, letting them talk, can we keep up with the kind of standard that he set? t the only way we can t is if we somehow pull ourselves together and make money available for your lal public television station. that is the only way we're going to continue to get that kind of journasm 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 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 ofrs additional conion, plus questions and answers with bill moyers. with a monthly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156 right now, you'll enjoy the
program d.v.d., plus the bookrs "bill mojournal, the conversation continues." with 43 in-depth interviews enjoy the 25th anniversary. edition of the seminal series, o "the powmyth" 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 seen in the original release, and an interview with film maker georgeucas. 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. >> you know, iis the job of pbs and your local station to inspire, to entertain, to illuminate, to uplift everyone in your family, everyone in your community to do a little bit more, to do a little bit
better because the great issues of the dayre put right in front of you. and you have the opportunity to make decisio, and then it makes democracy work and it's one of the tenets of billa moyers that it imocracy in peril, unless we do act, less we do make these decisions on our own. you want the inspiration. you want those things in yourre life and theot available elsewhere. you can watch all the cable,co all thercial channels you want to and you won't get what you get on your station.op so iyou will join us in supporting this station. mestusan the white ho lbj pledged to carry out john f. kennedy's mission. and time magazine called you the young man in charge of everything. (audience laughs) but the vietnam war interfered, and got in the way of these great hopes and dreams.
t did you rese 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 two 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 made in '64 and early '65 by the president, mcnamara d 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." it was tragic, it was one of those tragedies of history which lyndon johnson is responsible for that changed t course of our societ frustrated the great society programs,r snuffed them out in the cradle. i mean every constituency that we had practically
for the great society program for remaking e institutions of america, schools, roads and all of that was a victim of the etnam 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. t he hbe, when you're in a war, you have to fight it, and so i left. my influence was limited then, humbled, because the president, i was an advocate of stopping the bombing of the north. and i used to go to meetings in the cabinet room and i'd come in and the president said, s "here con the bomb bill." and they began to see me that way and therefore believed that i was sked. - no less light than doris kearns goodwin said that, "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 why you said you won't do it. would you tell people w you won't? - there were so many reasons i cat be sure i'm remembering the one that you are referring to. there wereonany reasons, many re first of all, i didn't want to 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 in the white house, and he never believed that anything he said to me, whether he was drunk or sober would become public. and secondly i lived the expeence but i don't remember it that well. because there were so many thingcoming 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 the newspaper. i never opened them after 25 years took them to our new home in new jersey put 'em in the attic, ner opened them. i hadn't opened them for 50 years, so last year when we decided to sell our house, i had to get all of those boxes out ca including thasses of mice and the shells of creatures of all kind and i opened them. and the first box i opened was the first three weeks in the white house, d all we could do, i didn't even have an assistant that i had known that's tow we were thrust in hurricane. , five of us, six of e president, mrs. johnson, jack valenti, me, horace busby ot and a couple ors.
and there were all the kennedy people but they were so grief stricken and so shattered that we felt as if we were alone on the island, and the island was in the midst of this great tsunami. and so i just put my files and all my correspondence, cables and all that in the files, ol here i was 29 yearand there were cables coming in from the uprising in nigeria, and the civil war in cypress, and the turmoil of the british government t which was uble, and the information about the movement of chinese troops towards the border 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? i had been at the peace corps. ewith president kennedy,had bwhat did he know about them?s and suddenly decisions were being made
about issues for which there wavery little time to collect the evidence. ow you yndon johnson kept saying to me, in all those years, "a man is no 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 as if you don't mind my saying so, u unless i can back with evidence. - you said in a couple of places, in some of the books that you have written more than a dozen books. and the thousands of hours of television that you produced. i found three references to the word atonement. where you talked about a personal need to atone. when you said to william sloaneoffin 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 thsins of the past. and he said to yto, "bill we have a lotone for." has your journalism career, and i will make easier for you if you want to answer it this way, because it has with me, been an atonement in a sense a redemption? - i don't look at it that way, and i never have. 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, and some of them come from haste, but you make a l of mistakes. you don't see there are consequences until you are out of the battle, till the war iover. and you can read what the other side said the other troops on thehe other side of the trenchesr. or the files in north vinamese records
or inthat you misjudgedry you dit or made a mistake, presidents or staff assistants to the president you make aot of mistakes. and if you let the mistakes eat away at you they will stroy 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. when i became press secretary against my will by the way, the president went through two or three press secretaries. i he said,nt 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 he and that afternoon i flew home to see my wife who was in dallas visiting her parents. and as we went to bed that evening, she had on her red and white silk pajamas.
i said, "you know this is the beginning of the end." and she said, "why?" you're trying to help the president get his ideas across, you're serving his interests rightly. but if you're trying to help the press undstand why he's making those decisions, or what they mean, you're trying to help the press. and ewere were moments that n intensity and paranoia, in which he thought i more than i was serving him. - but at some point you came to the conclusion standing at the lectern in the white house that you wanted to be on that side. - yes i remember it clearly. it was in the briefing room, my oice was the briefing roo by the way there were only about 40 or 50 accreditedroom, reporters in the white house then. there are now 1,100, so i had a all 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 surgery. but i couldn't let that out until after three o'clock. because the first line that would have gone out from the press corps they would have rushed out and said, "johnson and we agreed we called the fed, we called the secretary ofhe treasury, "oh no it could bring the market down "if you do it before three o'clock. rn"it could bring a gont down." and johnson said, "it could bring my government down." so we caouulated a carefully, t out strategy, and i would not answer a questions 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 was a nurse at bethesda hospital. and merriman came in and said,
"bill i know the president's going to bethesda "but i have to have it confirmed." in those days pierre salinger ha whbeen 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 toughuestions and you're going to need 30 seconds to think of the answer. angaif you're smoking a you can light it up and you've got 30 seconds to compose your answer. (audience laughs) so i was hooked i smoked a cigar po on my son's fronh 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. yfrom my office to the lo where and he said, "damnit i know it "i'm gonna gout and write it." so he opened the door, he couldn't get it open. we were seven 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," id, ", "just nod, just confirm it some way. "otherwise i'm going to take your "no answer as a confirmation." h so finalcalmed 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 announcemt. then they started asking all these questions and then and there as i lighted a cigar, again, "i want to be on their side asking the questions, "than on my side not answering them." - let's leave th white house and 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 and say,
"i got an idea two guys sitting down facing "of six long shows "eacabout mythology." a series they would have told you, ye crazy. - they would have called bellevue hospital. nc (audlaughs) i wish i could claim exclusive rights to the idea, but i had colleagues who talked about joseph campbell ani had read the hero with a thousand faces when i was at the university of texa and didn't understand it, but i had read it and remembered it. ea and then ithat he had been advising george lucas on the star wars film. so i called him up and he said, "of course i'd love to sit and talk wityou." cbs wouldn't consider it, my friends at pbs, a good bit of the money that i had to raise to do it. and we did 20 some-odd hourover two summers '85 skd '86 at george lucas'alker ranch.
re - so mythsstories of the sh by men and womenthroughs for meaning, for significance, to make life signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the mysterious, to find out who we are. - people say that what we're all seeking tis a meaning for life. i don't think that's what we're really seeking. i think what we're seeking is an experience ve of being ao that the life experiences at e have on the purely physical plane will have residences within that are those of our own inner-most 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 initially from the station was, "what?"
two guys sitting there, two white guys, sitting there ing about mytholog and we had no promotion and it went out and 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 they began to run it and it grew and it grew, it the most, it's what i will be remembered for intrr ucing this great teac a mass audience. because it was repeated over and againt became for years the best fundraiser for public broadcasting. tt i believe there's no production value than the.ower of the human fa when you let people look at your face, and your emotions, and your eyes, and the intensity in your participation 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 tell when you're this close to them. if you ask them to marry you, u' looking right into their eyes.
there is no power greater than the human face and television makes for us intimate strangers.ion, and t being able to sit lis and talk is probably the most personal experience we have outside of sex. mi and since that's d for many people, conversation is absolutely the way we entertain ourselves. (audience laughs) t tell you a story. a year after that series aired, i was walking outcaof a rea velle restaurant, on 8th avenue, between 55th and 56th. i was walking down the street and a young, an african ameroman was coming this way. and as you know, television makes us intimate strangers and you think you know everybody you see on television. and i think some intuitive reason that i know the people who are watching, i've never lost that sense r the people on the otde of the camera.
so our eyes connected and we walked on, strangers. but i turned and she turned and she said, "mr. moyers?" and i said, "yes," she said, "do you have a minute?" i said, "sure," ye said, "i came to nk "to be an actress and i've had a really difficult time. "i had some good auditions "but none of them were satisfactory. "my boyfriend and i living together for a year le "he just suddenl i haven't seen him. "i mean life just sort of come to an end for me. "so one night i came home, and i went to my apartment," she pointed right across the street tong small apartment builnd 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 she said, "i laid down on the couch "and i was really ady to go," she said, and she said, "i laid "when i had left that morning,
"i had left my television set on, "and i heard these two guys talking about "myths, and thmeaning of life, "and all of this and i heard one of them say, 'do you think people are looking for the meaning of life?' nd the other one said, 'no, no, no, 'i think they're looking 'for the experience of being alive,'" ou and she said, now something snapped in me, "and then i heard a vo,e of the announcer s '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 suide. - she got up and said, "i poured the bourbon out, "i tu"and i watched every off, one of those episodes. "what i decided is ided," need to be an actress,reet,on "but i need to experience the possibility "of life every day."
now those storieare commone who watched that series, and i can't explain it adequately, even today, but this medium has the power to touch, and move, inform, and connect 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, it's the truth of poetry, which is a greater truth g that you c from any politician. william carlos williams said, "people are dying "for a lack of the news they don't get on the evening news." it can take people far away, it can connect people who don't know each other, intimate strangers. i mean the marriage of the image and the word the most powerful combination of truth telling
and experience sharing we've ever had. it's not the printed it'word whichs wonderful,et, but it's a marriage of the two and fromthhat coupling comes sog creative. and when it's done this way, it is the most important and valuable contribution to our understanding each other that man has ever innted. >> i want you to think back to a moment in time when he mentioned that woman that just bumped into on the streets, who had in her mindid th that she was going to end her life and he heard her say, "once i saw this show, "the power of the myth" with joseph campbell, i changed my mind". and i hope that you're thinking abing the $21 a month donation because 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 requestedf the d.v.d.s published by pbs and made available to the pubc. more people still seek that. you can have that in your home. we have only pbs to thank for that. your local station. eeusic] >> yougreat conversations coming with your financial contribution to this station today. make a monthly sustaining gift of $7 or a one-time donation o $84 and we'll thank you with a d.v. of this program, which includes nearly an hour of additional conversation, plusd questions swers 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. with your gift of $252, 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.'s of todrogram. please call and give to thisw. station right thank you for your support. >> if you listen to what josh campbell said, that people are searching for an experience of living, an experience for it changed the lives of so many people when they first heard that, and then when bill talked about that a person's judgment is only as good as his or her information, that is an important thing to remember in this day and age so i hope that you will support
iothis local television st i hope that you will support pbs so that we continue to bring you the kindf in-depth reporting analysis and mind-changing opinion-changing and altering information that it has always given you. >>ustaining membership is easy, convenient and affordable way to support the programs you love. sustaining members make an ongoing monthly contributionth from either credit card or checking account. just choose the monthly amountwo yod like to give, then go online or call and we'll get ity set up f. your donation will happen automatically each month so your support will always be you want to change your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. ou online or call to start sustaining membership right now. >> and the time to do that is right now, by making your phone
call and giving a financial contribution to help keep this station strong. when you make that phone call, sustaining member, youave as a this wonderful d.v.d. to enjoy in your home, to sre with others, perhaps, to listen to more in depth and, remember, 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, you'll get the d.v.d. but we'lle send you bill ' journal, "the conversation continues." this is a companion book to that iconic program that he did here on pbs and it includes so many credible interviews. you have robert bly talking about poetry, shelby steele on race, there are so many in-depth interviewin here, in fact, it's 43 interviews, what a wonderful way to really enjoy bill moyers with this book and this d.v.d. or, with a gift of $21 a month,
"the power of myth." now enjoyable would it be forav you tothis in your home to listen to this conversation that h had such an impact for so many years. the impoant thing, though, is for you to figure out what works 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 all you have to do is look back oner your own ence in your life and the importance of pbs and the shows it has brought you, and the joy that it has brought you, the informationto that it has broughou, and the way that it has helped your children, the shows that have been so important to tm from "sesame street" all the way to thisrogram today. so, remember that this local station is your lifelineo incredibly important information, and sit is worth
your time and your dollars. >> you keep great 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. of this program which includes nearly an hour of additional conversation, plus questions and answers withill moyers. with a monthly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156 right now, you'll enjoy the p program d.v.s the book "bill moyers' journal, theer cotion continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th aiversary 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.v.d. set includes
new footage not seenn the original release, and an interview with filmmak george lucas. you'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program. please call and give to this thank you for your support. >> your contribution in any amount wou be appreciated. we know what the economy is like, we know that some people p are doing better, sople not so well. those people who are doing better, maybe it's time to look d say, should i bear thed souls weight of the time i spent in front of the television with th television station pbs show that i'm watching or should i let someone else pay for it? well, i think the real answer to that is, no, i probably should pay my fair share. that's all that's being asked. and to pay to the degree that you can afford. i heard one time someone say that you should give until it hurts. i think better way to say that
is to give until it makes youre feel. and if you believe that thisst ion and pbs has been important to you and will be important in the future, the only way that it can be important in t future is if there is funding. with all the news out there today, it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction. but here you can trust what yout get from youion. please give and give generously. ! want to read you a quote which you know and many people in our audience will probably know the first half, this is a quote from thomas jefferson. "whenever the people are well informed st "they can be t with their government." now that's what issually quoted. but actually that quotation goes on, and jefferson continues, "tsot whenever things gear wrong "as to attract their notice, they may be relied upon
"to see them to rights." is america well informed? and can americans be relied upon to set the wrongs to right? - at times, at times, generalizations are generally wrong, and i would not say the american people are not informed, many are not, they don't want to be informed. so they movetehrough life with a li supply of what it takes to think critically, but many others are, it's like journalism. i don't speak of the media anymore because o'reilly's in the media anbill moyers is in the media and we are different journalists. of the issues,k today, although in those days they were complex issues of forming a government and there was no rapid communicatio
i don't think people are as informed as we need for democracy to function for government tople be held accountable ge for conomic institutions to be ch ked 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 not virtuous other times, and some are not virtuous and en they are. what we need is checks and balances it's the balance of power, when bo parties are trying to do the right thing, or one's trying to do the wrong thing and the other's holding it account. i on'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 given most people spend all day making a living, holding two jobs, raising a family, t tryihelp in their church, trying to work as volunteers the public television station they're busy. that's why the accountability of politicians is so important becauseon they're a professional people
designed to solve the problems but democracy should be able to solve the problems it creates for itself and we're not doing that right now. you're house is on fire, don, our home here on earth is on fire. our economy is not peramrming for millions oicans our highway system is coming apart. we should be able to solve those problems, by depending upon the politicians and bureaucrats who we elect are employed to take those problems n that none of us alone lve and we're not, this country is unraveling, ee and wenot 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 bottom up. and there fe people out there on tnt line trying to fight climate change, trying to take on the climate deniers, trying to solve the problems of our inner cities,
thank god for th all of that. but they're up against almost insurmountable odds and if we had a truly independent, non-partisan, h trlling media we'd be in a lot better shape. you know there's a great line in the play h trlling media we'd bnight and day by tom stoppard, ot where the rapher in that play says, "people do terri,e things to each oth "but it's worse when they do it in the dark." and we're settling into a dark period in american life, e during whirybody's happy because we're amusing ourselves to death. we watche ow many hours, i go on bway in new york city and every week they put new posters up there are new cable television shows, and new plays onoadway and all . and there's so much to do and the web is constantly consuming obsessively consuming people. there's so much to entertain us that as my friend
the late neil postman who taught communications at new york university said in his famous book, amusing ourselves to death, we will probably die laughing because of the little we know. - it comeseeown to this issue it to me, bill, that it's the difference between providing people what they need to know versus what they want to know. and the invention of, the survey, where we have asked thpublic what would you like to see on the news? as opposed to, damnit, this is what you're getting. because this is what you need to know in order to be a citin and cast a reasonable informed opinion vote. we don't, or they, don't do it anymore. because ratings, circulation, are more important.
- there's a prophet treating vs instead of citizens in the great gift of public television and public radio is that we still somehow with the help of eople like this it's been able to hold to the idea of the american people as a community of citizens, not consumers. (audience applause) years ago, don, i sht a professor of eng lt a great al critic at yale, a man named cleanth brooks. and he talked about the bastard muses and there were three bastard muses. propaganda, wharh pleads for a particoint of view sometimes unscrupulously at the expense of the total truth.
sentimentality, which works to create an emotional response in excess of and unwarranted by the occasion. and at the expense of the focuwhole personality.l drive in that little interview i did with cleanth brook and at the expense of the 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 propagan, largely, sentimentality, largely, and rnography, in the terms of its twisted view of the humabeing and they have also twisted the heart out of what it means to ba citizen. and journalism is a fallen profession, almost like the first profession it is said, but it is still our only hope when both 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. h - i would call josller a curmudgeon i suppose and in your interview with him he says these h sort of frighteningler things, here's what he said in the interview with you, e "democracylebrate is full of illusions "such as participatovo democracy," he calleng, "a ritual and a delusion that comforts us, "indispensable to r contentment but "absolutely useless in application." do you agree? wi - no you absolutely, but i do believe that voting is easy and democracy's hard. de cracy, so it happens, between elections in our local communities in our state house and elsewhere and it requires particition people who go to school board meetings,
and struggle, and argue for what they want. so i don't agree wholly with him. i n't believe in pure democracy, i don't believe you can put an issue out there and enough people will be able to well informed and act on it you have to read the sentiment of the public and this is the terrible consequence of too much money in politics. representative but necessary form of democracy. we send our representatives to the state house here or to washington to make the best informed judgments they can for their constituents. they're never going to tisfy all the constituen but maybe sometimes theythey don't even satisfyents. most of the consti ents but maybe sometimes theyto make good judgments.ents. st today oliticians, there are exceptions fortunately, but most politicians are more responsive to the donors than they are to the voters. so that a representative democracy is skewed,
corrupted, by the fact that money is the determinant of the outcomes of politics. and that's why what's happened to representative government we n pd a democracy in whiple feel a sense as with public television that they're well considered in the programs t we've and the policies we adopt in politics and we don't have that at the moment, rarely. un i mean we have a dyional government in washington today. a by the way, i do havreverence n becauso they attempted to tryeate y, a government of,and for t, even though they discovered that was a very difficult thing. but they had this built- conflict, that i didn't realize when i was growing up, he i meanan who wrote, "all men are created equal," with his hand on that pen that was the same hand that careed
the breasts and thighs of his slave, sally hemings. different time, different morality, but how could he reconcile writinthese noble, eq "all men are created l," when he bedded m a young woman over whe had n and she had to 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 conflt in the intelligence and decision making of the people on power that we have toantly question. and so i have a different viewf the constitution i mean i didn't even know when i was growing up that it protected slavery, and that many of the founders were slave owners. dslavery is woven likek thread through our history and our founding fathers were culpable.
and the point of it is that change has to come from people like us who don't ke for granted or take with finality what those in power tell us and who fight for the justice and the berty and the equality wthat is mentionedr tin the declaration.t to me the declaration is the much greater, more powerful, of the instruments of our government. so when you keep revising, the the older you get,re powerful, you keep revising what you know. that's why living to an old age if you're lucky to have your healtl,is a wonderful, inter and perpetual university. - final question, to you mr. moyers and that is would you repeat for them a story at joseph campbell said to you at the conclusion of all of the interviews when it was finally done.
when he asked whether you intended f to stay in this linerk? - yeah we had been together those two summers and i was leavinto 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 hhome in haw, "joe i didn't ask you about god. "would you come to new york let's do one more show?" so he did, but when i was leaving, when i was leaving skywalker ranch for the last time he walked with me out to our car. and he said, "are you going to stay in this?" i had not been certain about journalism not been fixed in my trajector "are you going to stay in this work?" and i said, "yes, i think so," and he said, "well, good." he said, "if you want to change the world "change the metaphor. "cnge the story." - as joseph campbell would say meta-pher,
heinstead of metaphor, thees joe as he describes it as, "the person man or woman "who goes t 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 e ry personal, you are taphor. yo are the heroes journey, and i thank you so much pa for being of this evening. - well thank you. (audience applause) >> important information that
you receive on this television station can be entertaining. it has been entertaining. it's entertaininto your children, it's entertaining to you. some of the great dramas, masterpiece theater, all of that is entertainment.me but when it to public affairs journalism, this is the place you turn when you want to create for yourself an informed partnership.on now, as a peho's worked almost a half of a century in commercial television, i can tell you this, tt it is a popularity contest. they're seeking people who will watch them and in order to do thatcommercial television gives people what they want to know as opposed to what theyne 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. it is not asking the question whether it is popular, it is
requesting whether you need the inrmation it is about to provide. you see what's on your screen right now. hir $7, that's $84 a year, d.v.d., which is the d.v.d. ofth program that you're watching right now, but i need ere is almost an houryou that additional information. we talked so much that we simply couldn't get it all into this one program but we put it hear bill moyers continue toto talk about things you're not seeing on this program.au plus, we had a studience and they asked questions of bill moyers which he answers in his in imitable way. so please think about this $7 a month and make sis is in your house. >> you know how you make sure that is in your house, how you in your house, you give aon is contribution. this is what it's about, youco together with others in our community that keep this station strong. when you give a gift of $7 as a sustaining member with an
ongoing pledge, we wilbe happy to share with you this wonderful program with all that extra material that we are not able to enjoy. now, with a gift of $13 a month, this is very special because not on will you get that d.v.d. of this fascinating conversation but you will also get hicompanion book to his program, "bill moyers journal." every interview has a personal introduction from bill moyers,yo setting the scene fo as it is. you will enjoy having it in your home.no 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 much about with joseph campbell. not only is it that but there's extras, too. there's a 28-minute interviewth with george lucas ane is also a 12-page viewer guide that goes along with tt. what's up to you right now, though, is to decide you wan to support this wonderful station by calling the number saying you want to be freen and wonderful television.
>> i hope you're thinking right now about the importance of this station to you and your family, what it means, what it has meant over the period of time of your family's growth, at it's meant to you personally and whether you want to be personally involved in supporti the kind of programming that you have come to expect from this station. i hope you're thinking about that and i want you to know ft in this program, and wedeal would like to ask you tois support tation so that we can continue with this. i hope that you would support with money this station in order to make sure that nd of programming continues on pbs. i ho 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 now. to become a member of something that is already a part of your community. >> sustaining membership is an
easy, convenient and affordable way to support the programs you love. sustaining members make an ongoing monthly contribution from either their credit card or checking account. just choose the monthly amount you would like to give. then go online ocall and we'll get it set up for you. your donation will happen automatically each monthyoo support will always be current. current. if you want to change your sustaining membership, jt contact us. monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. sustaining membership rightyour now. ♪ music >> you keep great conversation coming with your financial contribution to this station toy. make a monthly 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 h includes nearly r of additional conversation, plus questions and answers with bill moyers. with a monthly sustaining gift
of $13, or a donation $156 right now, you'll enjoy the program d.v.d. plus the book "bill moye' journal, the conversation continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversaryit n of the seminal series, "the power of myth" with joseph campbell. with you are gift of $252, or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.v. set includes new footage not seen in the original rease, and an interview with filmmaker george lucas. you'll also receive the d.v.d. of today's program. please call and give to this station right now.yo station right now.yo thanfor your support. if you think about the fuel of your automobile, wheth you're using some kind of petroleum or using the energy of e sun or using battery power, or a combination thereof, it is how
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budget. s you would like to support with a gift of $7 a and get the d.v.d. of theber wonderful program that we're enjoying. aor the gift of $13 a mon not only get that d.v.d. but also get the bill moyers' journal, the companion book to that with 43 interviews. or maybe $21 a month would work for you and your family's budgetnd you would like to have "the power of myth" toro enjoy along with theam that we're watching,"co ersation with bill moyers." what's really important is you. choose an amount that works for you and your family and callmb the on the bottom of your screen or go online right now to show your support. >> whether your favorite programs are the costume dramas that you love so much, you like downton abbey, victoria, you like mr. selfridge, you like these programs or you like the science programs, you like nova, or maybe you likein fron the question is, are
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of those people. >> he want to ank everyone who's called tonight. appreciate that phone call so very much. but if you haven't called, there's still time for you, butk now is the time tothe decision to go from being a viewer to being a contributor, to being somebody who makes programs like this possible. think about all the programs that you and your family enjoy in yr home. name them off to yourself. 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 know beforor maybe watching a child's face as they are introduced to a concept they have never heard before, the delightful giggles as they learn something brand-new. that's all here and it's all possible because of you. you are the power in public television so won't you make
that donation right now? won't you make that phone ca? become a supporting member today. >> make a dotion 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 but i want to remind you that it contains almost an hour of additional programming,ti adal conversation with bill moyers. we're in an interesting, interesting period in our history and it is time to develop an informed opinion. he's had 83 years to developon that opind we've been the beneficiaries of that, in his
search for truth, objective truth. not faith and belief but truth. to find something that is undeniable. if two plus two is four, that's. a fa it wouldn't be five or seven,e based on what litical whims or what someone believes. it would be for. that's the kind of reporting that you get here. and you will hear him here,re you'll hear him efore you hear him anywhere else feel so we're asking you to think and think seriously about supporting this station. make sure that this prnd of ramming continues throughout, for your childrend r your grandchildren. (audience applause) (upbeat music)
bayeux, with a pasant town cente and only six miles from the d-day beaches, makes a great home base for visiting the area's sights. along the 75 miles of atlantic coast nearby, you'll find countless memories of largest military operation in history. it was on these beautiful beaches, at the crack of dawn, june 6, 1944, that the allies fithlly gained a food in france and nazi europe began to crumble. during the dnvasion, american troops and thes courageously assaulted the german-occupied cliffs using grappling hooks and ladders. while ultimately victorious, they suffered horrendous losses. smashed german bunkers and bomb craters remain, only hintingrnt the unimaginable cae and chaos
of that momentous day. the small town of arromanches was ground zero for the d-day invasion. almost overnight, the alsees erected an immrefab port, enabling them to begin their victorus push to berlin. imagine the building of this incredible harbor. seventeen old ships steamed across the english channel and were sunk, bow to stern, creating a four-mile-long protective breakwater. then, with massive concrete platforms and roads floating on pontoons nearly a mile long, . the harbor was complet within six days, 300,000 allied troops and all their equipment had established a beachhead here in france. and less than a year later, the war was over. today, 60 years later, the town, with its beachcombers, holiday trinkets, and families at play, still seemllto celebrate thatd victory. [ cheering ] peace came at a huge price.
the invasion cost over 4,000 allied lives. the american cemetery at st. laurent crowns a b just above omaha beach in the eye of the d-day storm. ousands of tombstones glow in memory of americans who gave their lives here to help free europe. the bluff overlooks the stretch of normandy beach called "the port of freedom." while tranquil now, for those of us who weren't there, the horror of that day is impossible to imagine. from the memorial, with a bronze statue symbolizing the spirit of america's youth, a peaceful sea of crosses invites those visiting to wander and ponder t sacrifice so many brave men made in the cause of freedom. immediately after the war, all the bodies were buried in temporary graves.
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