tv A Conversation With Bill Moyers PBS March 17, 2019 12:00am-1:30am PDT
rl explore ne 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 interview bill. it's something like playing the piano for mozart. becauss to my mind bill moyerse greatest broadcast journalist of our age. athe's won more than 30nal 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 thregolden baton. awards, he's introduced us to some of the rld's 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. before a studio audimoce a man known for histy 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) (audience applause) - it started in marshall, texas but it started before you were a journalist.
something unusual occurred in marshall that taught you about this america. you were the son of one of the poorest people itown 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 th particularly men intown who, "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, the city commission let me come in and sit-in on their meetings. i was just constantly touched by people ol r than i am who saw something in me
that i didn't see inyself. so they just kept moving me from one opportunity to other. but you know in those days the gap of income inequality was not so great. one of my beck friends was anne bla who was the daughter of the richest man in town. but we went to the same school, t we w the same parties, we went to the same dances. and i never felt uncomfortable in t presence of the kids in town whose parents were really thmore fortun. and that's changed in this country today to a very disturbing extent. there's very little conversation, there's very little intercourse, ve there' little communication, very little participation between the poorest people, poorest kids in our country, in our cities, but i, it never 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 relationsnp, and so that little t said to me, you signify, 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, yand 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 was bowled over by the helicopter. ud nce laughs) i was on the town square and the helicopter landed. d he travee 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 campaigning hard in a helicopter, wa so who didn' to see a helicopter in '48 the first year that helicopters d were u 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. now i later learned that he did 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. thisas just not that he had ens 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, commanding presence, and i remember being stunned by the power of his persona. something you didn't see again, really, until the campaign of '64 when he was running for president for the first time in his own right. - so you, north texas, iversity of texas austin for the first time southwest theological seminary,
would stop in edinburgh and spend some time to study. committed to becoming a preacher, preaching in two churches upon graduation. ew but in there sre 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 called you. - i had been at north texas state college ldin upstate texas and i w go n from time to tim hand watch the mccartring. some of you don't remember the mccarthy hearings e but tremist 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 uon 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. be but i felt m wanted to be a political journalist. i planned to be a journalist i was working my way ro h the colleges on the publicity staff of the college covering the sports from the collegend writing newsletter i went to my office on a saturday afternoon wrote a letter to, i had never met senator hnson except to see him from the helicopter. and i wrote a letter saying, i'd like to learn about politics gnand you're in a campown here where you're trying to reach young people and i think i've got someing for you and you've got something for me. the letter got to his desk, he always wanted to have bright, young n around him. john connally became governor and many others were youne men on his staff atime 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 capitol where his senate majority office w in fact when i got off the he was getting ontthe trolley, and he took my hand and said, "come on," he didn't even have a warm greeting m he just to down a long corridor
in the basement of the capitol opened the door and took me down to an addressograph machine, an addressograph machine was like a sewing machine, th you would hi pedal and a metal plate would come through, the stamp would come down, t and pre address on the envelope. so in-between eight o'clock at night, and sevethe next morning, i addressed by foot 275,000 envelopes. i hadn't even unpacked my bag and i hadn't gone tohe room where i was staying, and that impressed him. so then ow moved me over to hioffice 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, g writs letters to his contributors in texas, and we bonded. i was going back to this small colge at the end of the summer, and lyon 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 said, "m leader i don't have any money,
"i'm going to get married, and i've got a job de "in north texas in on," he said, "i'll give you a job-- - [don] ktbc? - [bill] ktbc the radio station whh 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 fathif had ever made in his as i said earlier and i went down and he worked 40 hours a week but we bought the first mobile unit in texas. 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. ud nce laughs) but anyway that fall i had a deep, profound experience
i still have a hard time describing it. 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 december of '59, judith and i, my wife, were packing our boxes to move back t aaustin where i had beepted to do my phd in american civilization and had a teaching assistantship at baylor university which is a baptist school iwaco halfway between dallas and austin. and the phone rang, it was two days after christmas, and it was lyndon johnson, i dn't talked to him in two and a half years. he sind, "bill how are you " "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,
d '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." (audience laughs and so i spent that year back in his office traveling with him, spending every night some hotel, around the country, seeing all of the politicians, meeting them, watching what happened. they were heavy drinkers in those days, pa and after all day of cning they'd come to the hotel ou and they 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 presidential running mate. i started to go back to texas then, and he said, "no stay through the election "then u can go." and so i did and during the campaign i was the liaison on the vice president'slane the swoose named after the plane he had been
on in the pacific, briefly during world war i and the caroline which was john kennedy's plane. and i got to know the irish mafia, i was the only persons on johnson's team, who could talk boston and interpret boston to austin. e (audieughs) and i became in their eyes somewhat valuable. so when the election came and we won, barely, as you know, john kennedy came down to the lbj ranch and i'm sure that lbj sand he turned on thebut jporch of the lbj ranchg saw me leaning in the corner, came over and said, "i hh r you're not coming w." 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 baptist preacher?" he said, "we need you in washington," si went. and just a few mont into working in the vice president's office, boring job,
he was bored out of his mith, it was a non-job a time, and i had written a speech for lbj, he said, "i don't have a speech, i'm going to speak "a 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 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 annoced that he was going to start the peace corps, that's what i wanted to do so i beg 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 peat corps, became its fiputy 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 en shape the ty of america in the world nsand to give them a 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 h hubephrey institute, i gave the keynote speech at the humphrey institute when they opened it. people come up to me, my age and younger, inand they say, "we were he peace corps, "it was a defining moment of my life." it was mine, i couldn't ve 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 is going to go down tre." "we sent an italian, advance man from boston, "who si knew, jerry bruno, t him down there, "and he just can't, they can't understand each other. "our efforts, we've got to raise money. t "we've gspeak in houston, "and you've got to go down there and hold hands." nt so i did, i own and i was holding hands with the governor and the labor people, and the liberals and the conservatives until te president got out n. sitting at the forty acres club at the university of texas having lun with the chairman of the state democratic committee
and the most promising young member of the state senate, ben barnes the maitre d' came over to me and said, r. oyers you've got a call," so i went and took it. it was bilcepaine the secret sergent assigned to me 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 andallas, robert trout on cbs said, in a hnting voice, "the president is dead." i landed at love field, started to town, to the hospal, parkland hospital and got a dispatcher's call saying, "the president, lyndon johnson now, was on air force one at love field," right where we h landed. went back, went up to air force one, the secret service stopped me, he didn't know me, and i wrote a note--
- at did it say? - it's in the library. mr. president, don't ask me why intuitively i started calling him mr. president. i' always called him senator, or leader. mr. president i'm here if you need me, bill yers. a few minutes later the secret service agent came back and called me up the steps and there i was air force one. - [don] what was going through 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 president, wasn't ready for it, wasn't really prepared r it. i was a practical guy. i mean in the campaign of '60, organizing the peace cor, those were administrative and managerial jobs. and i had never even been in the white house and i was standing at the back of that plane, sa"ng, "how can i be helpfu 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 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 behind us, and i realized then that he had things on his 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 sse of doing the details and not being conspicuous about it. but there were no great and noble, or fearful thoughts in mind on that plane coming bk. >> hi, everybody. my name is don shelby. i'm the personho's sitting
next to bill moyers in the program that you're watching. and it has been the highlight of my life. a when i was fired to host the program and to ask the questions of bill moyers, i knew that he was not going to be as forthcoming because he's a very modest person, he doesn't like to talk about himself. in fact, in the first break w thtook, he leaned over a and apologized to said, "i'm sorry i'm talking so much." no, that's cool, you can talk as much as y want to.this show that you're g 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 johnson administration when he was present for the creationw t we now call history. which is perfectly fitting for journalists because it's alwaysi beenthat journalists write the first draft 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 landmarkf the great journalism that is i'm so glad that you're watching this 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 living from that plane on the day that kennedy died. wow. hi, i'm margaret prestrud anda i'mber of public television, and i'm asking you to give your support this evening, as we, around this wonderful program. when you do do it with a gift of $84 or $7 a month, we will beth happy to gift yowonderful program that we're enjoying. as don mentioned, it's not just
the program that we're seeing, that there's almost an extra b hour, as welause we just were not able to fit it all into this program. it is truly a special recollection from bill moyers. thth a gift $156 or $1 a m 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 interview bys a personal introductio bill moyers setting the stage, telling you how it was that day in the studio. 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 talked about mythology and how it impacts our lives. it is just fabulous series. not ly is it the d.v.d. but it also includes a viewer's
guide and extra footage that wanot in 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 stion. >> 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 broadcasting, and then, from there, he started to work with nbc and then with cbs, he jumped into eric sevareid'sme shoes as a cator on the cbs evening news and then he went back to wnet,be use he was so constrained in commercial television, he didn't have the ability to expand thought. just talking to other people,
letting them expound, letting them talk, can we keep up with the kind of standard that he set? the only waye can do that is if we somehow pull ourselves together and make money available for your local public that is the only way w going to continue to get that kind of journalism coverage.u it means here n trust what you get. coming with your financialtions contribution to this station today.th make a m sustaining gift of $7 or a one-time donation of $84 and we'lthank 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, you'll enjoy the program d.v.d., plus the book
ill 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 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. >> you know, it is the job of pbs and your local station too inspire,tertain, 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 day are put right in
front of you.he and you havepportunity to makes democracy work and it's one of the tenets of bill moyers tt it is a democracy in peril, unless we do act, unless we do make ese decisions on our own. you want the education. i you want tpiration. you want those things in your life and they're not available elwhere. you can watch all the cable, all the commercial channels you want to and you won't get whatat you get on your n. so i hope you will join us in supporting this station. mestican the white house, lbj pledged to carry out john f. keedy'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 did you resent the of twar in that way, and dreams.
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 nk i didn't tbout 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 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." it was tragic, it was one of those tragedies of history which lyndon johnson is responsible for that changed the course of our society. i mean every constituencytsocie, that we had practicallyradle.
for the great society program for remaking o the institutio 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. u'he had to be, when 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 th bombing of the north and i used to go toident, meetings in the cabinet room and i'd come in and the president said, "here comes ban the bomb bill." and they began to see me that way and therefore believed that i was skewed. - no less light than doris kearns goodwin said that, "moyers should write the book, because all of those blanks
n evenro's work can be filled in by bill moyers." and when i read why you won't write a book about lbj lyi was touched profession andy for why you said you won't do it. - there were so many reasons i can't be sure i'm remembering the one that you are referring to. there were many reasons, many reasons. first of all, i didn 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 ny thating he said to me, whether he was 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 leftl he white house i put 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, never opened them. i hadn't opened them for 50 years, so last year when we decided to sell our house, i had to g all of those boxes o so lincluding the carcasses deciof 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, and 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 va nti, me, horace busby five of us, six of and a uple of others. 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 ort my files and all myspondence, cables and allat in the fil, here i was 29 years old and there were cables coming in from the uprising in nigeria, and the civil war in cypress, and the turmoil of the british government whh was in trouble, and the information about the movement of chinese troops towaans the border of korea, right on down the line there was one issue after other. and what did we know about them? k what didw about them? i had been at the peace corps. even lyndon johnson who had been in many of those meetings with president kennedy, what did 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 all those years, "aan is no better, a man's judgement is no better than his information." and i really believed that, and that has guided me y inurnalism career the last 44 years. my opinion isn't worth a pig's ass if you don't mind my saying so, unless i can bk it up with evidenc - you said in a if ycouple of places,saying so, in some of the books that you have written more than a dozen books. and the thvisands of hours of teon 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 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 if for yoou 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 te.t way, and i never h but let me say in the crucible of power - i don't look at it te.t wayou 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 lot of mistakes. you don't see there are consequencese, 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 side of the trenches or the files in north vietnamese records or in the kremlin library you don't really know
that you misjudged it or made a mista, presidents or staff assistants to the president 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 reporthe truth o an if you are tryingnceal it. you have more fun, you feel better at night. if you're trying to find the truth of instearying to cover it up. when i became press secretary against my will by the way, the president went through two or three press secretaries. he said, "i want you to be press secretary," re i said, "mr.dent i don't want to do it, "thank you anyway." the se nd time didn't do it. the third time i said, "yes," because i'd still have my shoulder out of int here. 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 beginng of the end."
and she said, "why?" and i said, "because no man can serve two masters." 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 understand why 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 ess g more than i was servm. - 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 office was the briefing room. by the way there were only about 40 or 50 accredited reporters in the white house then. tand we'd brief the, so ipress there (laughs).
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 to go for surger" and we agreed we called the fed, we called the secretary of the treasury, "oh no it could bring the market down u "if it before three o'clock. "it could bring a government down." and johnson said, "it could bring my government do." so we calculated a carefully, thought out strategy, and i would not answer a questions that subject until 3:01. well merriman smith who was the an f 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 who had been kennedy's press secretary, had urged me to learn to sme cigars, i never smoked he said because you're going to be asked very tough questions and you're going to need 30 seconds to think of the answer. and if you're smokinita cigar you can lighp and you've got 30 seconds to compose your answer. (audience laughs) so i was hooked i smoked 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 cigaretteso i walm and locked my door from the inside, took the key and put it in my pocket. from my office testhe lobby where the phones were and he said, "damnit i know it "i'm gonna go out and write it." so he opened the door, he couldn't get it open. we wree seven minutes till 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 u tch," he said, "i know t,
"just nod, just confirm it some way. "otherwise i'm going to take your "no answer as a confirmation." finally he calmed down ttle bik i pushed the button to the outside the press came back in and i made the announcement. then they started asking all these qutions and then and there i said to myself, as i lighted a cigar, agai "i want to be on their side asking the questions, "than on my side not answering them." - let's leave the white house and lbj and now you're a journalist. 1970 you go to channel 13 wnet, gi and doing a weekly show and get television in your blood, but when you decided to have a conversation with joseph campbell can you imagine li what it would have bee to walk into some place like cbs and say, a "i gidea two guys sitting down facing
"each other talking for a sees "of six long shows about mythology." they would have told you, you were crazy. ey - ould have called bellevue hospital. (audience laughs) i wish i could claim exclusive rights to the idea, but i had colleagues who talked about joseph campbell and i had readhts the hero with a thousand faces when i was at the university of texas and didn't understand it, but i had read it and remembered it. anenthen i read that he had 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 with you." itcbs wouldn't consider my friends at pbs, they saw the value of it and they put up it a goodf the money that i had to raise to do it. and we did 20 some-odd hours over two summers '- so myths aregeorgelucas'. stories of the search
by men and women through the ages for meaning, for significance, to make life signify, touch the eternal, toen understand the mysterious, to find out who we are. - people say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. i don't think that's what we're really seeking. i think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive so that the life experiences that we 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 pt the e 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 initi, ly from the station what?" two guys sitting there, two white guys, sitting there
ing about mythology? 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's the most, it's what i will be remembered r introducing this great teacher to a mass audience. because it was repeated over and again it became for years the best fundraiser for public broadcastin i believe therlus no better production than the power of the man face. when you let people look at your face, ur and motions, and your eyes, and the intensity in your participation in this conversation there's no way i could create that with technology. me when you tell dy, "i love you," if you're fortunate you tell them when you're this close to them. a if y them to marry you, you're looking right into their eyes. there is no power aceater than the human
for the purpose of television, and television makes us intimate strangers. and so being able to sit like this and talk ais probably the most upersonal experiences. we have outside of sex. and since that's limited for many people, conversation is absointely the way we enterurselves. (audience laughs) let me tell you a story. a year after that series aired, i was walking out of a restaurannt la caravelle restau on 8th avenue, between 55th and 56th. i was walking down the street and a young, afrimin american woman was this way. and as you know, television makes us intimate strangers and you think you know everybody you see on telision. d i think some intuitiveason thw of the people on tra watching, other side of the ca sense 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," she said, "i came to new york ve "to be an actress and had a. had some good auditions "but none of them were satisfactory. "my boyfriend and i living together for a year "he justseuddenly left i haven' 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," sh 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 she said, "i laid down on the couch "and i was really ready to go," she id, "when i had left that morning, "i had left
"and i heard these "whttwo guys talking abouting, "myths, and the meaning of life, "and all of this and i heard one of them say, 'do you think people are looking for the meaning of life?' ne "and the othersaid, 'no, no, 'i think they're looking 'for the experience of being alive,'" and shg said, "you know somethapped 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 bourbon out, "i turned the burner off, i opened the window, "and i watched every one of those episodes. "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 thos pstories are common fple 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 whari've done it for 44 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 thol you can get from anyician. 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 eachnews they other, intimate strangers.ews." ar i mean theage of the image and the word the most powerful combination of truth telling d perience sharing we've ever had.
it's not the cuneiform tablet, it's not the printed word which is wonderful, wot it's a marriage of the and from that coupling comes something 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 invented. to >> i want yohink back to a moment in time when he mentioned that woman that he just bumped into on the streets, who had in her mind the idea that she was going to end her life and he heard herhi say, "once i sawshow, "the power of the myth" with joseph campbell, i changed my mind". and i hope that you're thinkingo about doing the $21 h 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 requested of the d.v.d.s puished by pbs and made available to the public. more people still seek that. you can have that inour home. we have only pbs to thank for that. your local station. [music] >> you keep great conversationsn coming with your fal 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 programwhich 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 h fr popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversary
edition of the seminal series, "the power of myth" with joseph campbell. with your giftf $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. of today's program. please call and give to this station right now. thank you for your support. >> if you listen to what joseph, campbell shat people are searching for an experience of living, an experience for living.he it changedives of so many people when they first heard that, and then when bill talkedb t 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 iope that you will suppor this local television station. i hope that you will support
pbs so that we continue to bring you the kind of in-depth reporting analysis and mind-changing opinion-changingal anring information that it has always given you. >> sustaining memberip is an easy, convenient and affordable way to support t 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 ontne or call and we'll get set up for you. your donation will happen automatically each month so your support will always be current.ha if you want toe your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. go online or call start your 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,if with aof $7 a month as a sustaining memr, you can have this wonderful d.v.d. to enjoy in your home, to share with others, perhaps, to listen to more in depth and, ramember, there's d.v.d. e included with that, an9 additionalnutes that we're not going to be seeing. with a gift of $49 a month, you'll get the d.v.d. but we'll send y bill moyers' journal, "the conversation continues." this is a companion book to that iconic program that he did here on pbs and it includes so many incredible intervis. you have robert bly talking about poetry, shelby steele on race, there are so many in-depth interviews in here, in fact, it's 43 interviews, what a wonderful way to really enjoy billoyers 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 for
omyou to have this in your to listen to this conversation that has had such an impt for so many years. the important thing, though, is for you to figure out what f works for you and yoily to support this station and right now.umber on your screen >> 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 on your own experience in your life and the importance of pbs and the shows it has brought you, and the joy that it hasor brought you, the ition the way that it has heouru, and children, the shows that have been so important to them from "sesame street" all the way to this program today. so, remember that this local station is your lifeline to incredibly important information, and so it 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 $ 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 conrsation, plus questions and answers with bill moyers. m withthly sustaining gift of $13, or a donation of $156 right now, you'll enjoy the progm d.v.d. plus the book "bill moyers' journal, the." conversation continu with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversary edition of the seminale series "wer of myth" with joseph campbell. with your gift o$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.re you'll alsive the d.v.d. of today's program. please call and give to 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 are doing beer, some people not so well. 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 televion with this television station pbs should i let someone eyor 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 giventil it makes you
feel great. and if you believe that this station and pbs has been important to you and ill beimportant in the future, e only way that it can be important in the future is if there is funding. with all the news out there today, it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction. but he you can trust what you get from your station. please give d give generously. ! want to read you a quote which you know and many people in our audience will probably know e first half, this is a quote from thomas jefferson. "whenever the people are well informed "they ovn be trusted with theirnment." now that's what is usually quoted. but actually thaquotation g, and jeerson continues, "that whenever things get so far wrong e,"as to attract their not then
"to see them to rights." is america well informed? and can americans be relied upon to set the wrongs to right? generalizations are -generally wrong,mes, and i would not say the american people are not informed, many are not, they don't want to be informed. so they move through life wh a limited supply of what it takes to think critically, but many others are, it's like journalism. i don't speak of the media anyme because o'reilly's in the media and bill moyers is in the media and we are differejournal. but no, i think today, with the complexity of the issues, although in those days e they wmplex issues of forming a government and there was no rapid communication.
i don't think people are as informed as we need for democracy to function rn for gont to be held accountable for huge economic institutions to be checked with balance. the whole secret odemocracy ie are virtuous or not, it's that some are virtuous sometimes and they're not virtuous other times, and sowhat we need isuous and thchecks and balances 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 an the other's holding it account. so i don't think the american people are as as a whole, arnformed as we need for democracy 's to work and very difficuly given most people spend all day making a living, holding two jobs, raising a family, ch trying to help in theich, trying to work as volunteers le at the public sion station they're busy. that's why the accountability of politicians is so important because 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, ho ou here on earth is on fire. our economy is not performing for miions of americans owe should be able to isolve those problems, by epending upon the politicians and bureaucrats who we elect are employed to take those problems that none of us noone can solve and we'r this country is unraveling, 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 are people out there on the front 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 them all of that.
but they're up againstproblems almost insurmountable odds and if we had a truly independent, non-partisan, 'd truth telling media be in a lot. you know there's a great line in the play night and day by tom stoppard, whhae the photographer inplay says, "people do terrible things to ch other, "but it's worse when they do it in the dark." and we're settling into a dark period in american life, during which everybody's happy because we're amusing rselves to death. we watch how many hours, go on the subway in new york city and every week they put new posters up there are new cable television shows, and new oays on broadway and athat. and there's so much to do and the web is constantly consuming obsessively consuming people. there's so much y entertain us that asiend the late neil postman who taught communications
at new york university said in his famous book, rs amusing ves to death, we will probably die laughing because of the little we know. - it comes down to this sue it seems to me, bill that it's the difference becbetween providing peopleow. what they need to know versus what they want to know. d the invention of, the survey, where we have asked the public 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 citizen and cast a reasonable informed opinion te. we don't, or they, don't do it anymore. because ratings, circulation, are more important. - there's a rsophet in treating vies consumers
instead of citizens in the great gift of public television and public radio is hat we still somehow with the help of people like this it's been able to hold the idea of the american people as a community of citizens, not consumers. (audience applause) 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 bastard muses. sometimes unscrupulously atfor the expense of the total truth.
s sentimentality, which wo create an emotional response in excess of and unwarranted by the occasion. and pornography, which focuses on one powerful drive at he expense of the whole personality. in that little interview i did with cleanth brooks, me i don't know a long go, 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 view of the human being and they have also twisted the heart out of what it means to be a 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. - i would udll joseph heller a cuon i suppose and in your interview with him he says these sort of frightening things, here's what he said in the interview with 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 bu "absolutely useless in application." do you agree? y,- not with you absolutbut i de 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 requires participation people who go to school board meeting and struggle, and argue for what they want.
so i don't agree wholly with him. i don't believe pure democr, i don't believe you can put an issue out there and enough people will be able to be well informed iand act on it you have pto read the sentiment of the public and this is the terrible consequence of too much money politics. representative government is a flawed 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 satisfy all the constituents but maybe sometimes they don even satisfy most of the constituents but we hire them ud to make goodents. today most politicians, 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 wntt's happened to repreive government we need a democracy in which people feel a sense asith public televisio that they're wellemocracy considered in the programs liwe've put on and the es we adopt in politics and we don't have that at the moment, rarely. i mean we hant a dysfunctional govern in washington today. by the way, i do have a reverence for the constitution because they attempted to try to create a government of, by, and for the people, even though they discovered that was a verdifficult thing. but they had this built-in conflict, that i didn't realize when i was growing up, i mean the man who wrote "all men are created equal," with his hand on that pen that was the same hand that caressed the breaste,and thighs of his slally hemings.
different time, different morality, but how could he reconcilrdwriting these noble "all men are cddated equal," when he a young womaomover whom he had totalation and shd had to do what he wanr to do? they had these childretogethere si those ops 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 h.e to constantly questi and so i have a different view of the constitution i mean i didn't even know when i was growi up that it protected slavery, and that many of the founders were slave owner thaslavery is wovenlavery, andlike a dark threadfounders through our history and our foundand the point it isble.
that change has to come from people like 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. e toe declaration is the much greater, more powerful, of the instruments of our goverent. so when you keep revising, the older you get, you keep revising what you know. that's why living to an old age if you're lucky to have your health is a wonderful, internal, and perpetual university. mr- final question, to youmoyers would you repeat for them a story that joseph campbe said to you at the conclusion of all of the interviews when it was finally done. when he asked whether you intended
to stay in this line of work? - yeah we had been and i was leaving to come back, it wasn't the last time i saw him because when i gback to newk and started editing i remembered i had looked at all the footage and i hadn't asked him about god. so i called am at his home in hawa i said, "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 walke.with me out to our c and he said, "are you going to stay in this?" i had not been certain about journalism not been fixed in my trajectory. "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. "change the story." - as joseph campbell would say meta-pher, instead of metaphor, the heroes journey is one
as he describes it as, "the person man or woman "who goes out to an unkno place, d "facgers and terrors and drama, "returns with the prize after the fight "w "and tells the story then the heroes of it cabegin o" bill moyers i speak for a lot of people, buyou are the heroes journey, u and i thank you so much for being a part of this evening. . - well thank y (audience applause) >> important information that you ceive on this television
station can be entertaining. it has been 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 journalism, this is the place rn when you want to create for yourself an informed partnership. now, as a person who's worked almost a half of a centuryn commercial television, i can tell you this, that it is a popularity contest. tch them and in order to dowill that, commercial television gives people what they want to know as opposed to what they need to know. nversation with bill moyers. tell you that that is not ad to question that your station is asking. it is not asking the question whether it is popular, it is requesting whether you need the
information it is abe.t to prov 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 infortion. we talked so much that we simply couldn't get it all into this one program but we put it on the d.v.d. so you'll get toye hear bill continue to talk about things you're not seeing on this program. plus, we had studio audience and they asked questions of bill moyers which he answers ini in imitable way. so please think about this $7 a month and make sure this is in your house. >> you kw how you make sure that is in your house, how you make sure public television ise, in your hoou give a contribution. this is what it's about, you o come together wiers in our community that keep this station strong. when you give a gift of $7 as a sustaining member with an ongoing pledge, we will be happy to share with you this
wonderful program with all tt extra material that we are not able to enjoy. now, wita gift of $13 a month, this is very special because not only will you get. that d.v this fascinating conversation but you will also get his companion book this every interview has a personal" introduction from bill moyers, setting the scene for you, as it is. you willnjoy having 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 seminalse es that we've talked so much about with joseph campbell. t not only is t but there's extras, too. there's a 28-minute interview with george cas and there is also a 12-page viewer guide that goes along with that. what's up to you right now, though, is to decide you want to support this wonderful the bottom of the screen and saying you want to be part of wonderful television.>> 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, rsonally and whether you want to be personally involved in supporting the kind of programming that you he come to expect from this station. i hope you're thinking about that and i want you to know that there is not a great dealgr left in this p, and we would like to ask you to wpport this station so th can continue with this. i hope that you would support with money this station in order to make sure that kind of programmntinues on pbs. i hope you will think very, very hard right now about getting up, picking up the phone or going to the website y and makir 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 wauto support the programs
love. sustaining members make an ongoing monthly contribution arfrom either their credit or checking account. just choose the monthly amount you would likeo give. then go online or call and we'll get it setp for you. your donation will happen automatically each month soal your support wilys be current. current. if you want to change your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin asmo low as $5 peh. go online or call to start your sustaining membership right now. ♪ music >> you keep great conversations coming with your financialo contributionis station today. make a monthly sustaining giftna of $7 or a one-time on of $84 and we'll thank you with a d.v.d. of this program, which includesearly 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, you'll enjoy theth program d.v.d. plubook "bill moyers' journal, the conversation continues with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversaryal edition of the semeries, mpbell.wer of myth" with joseph with you are gift of $252, or a sustaining contribution of $21 per month. the three-d.v.d. set includes new footage not seen in th original release, 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 please call and give to this thank you for your sup if you think about the fuel of your automobile, whether you're using some kind of petroleum or using the energy of the sun or using battery power, 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 ofsa ng that it is your contribution that powers your station, that powers pbs. o the more power you put i, the greater the performance you're going to get out of it. so if thenhat pbs is doing -- so if you think that pbs isty doing a prood job right now, just think what it would do if it had the resources, fit had the participation of every member in the communitwhwho relies o goes on on pbs and on your station. think about how much it has meant to you over the years, w much it means now. support your public television station. >> you know what, you can support your local station right now for programs like this and all of the other programs that you enjoy, how you do it is call the number on the bottom of your screen orve you go online, whaworks for you and your family's budget.ke perhaps you would o
support with a gift of $7 a month as a sustaining memberd. and get thd. of the wonderful program that we're enjoying. or the gift of $13 a month and not only get that d.v.d. but also get the bill moyers'om journal, thenion book to that with 43 interviews. or maybe $21 a mon would work for you and your family's budget and you would likto have "the power of myth" to enjoy along th the program that we're watching,"bi conversation wit moyers." these are all suggested levels. what's really important is you choose an amount thaworks for you and your family and call the number on the bottom of your screen or go online right now to show your support. >> whether your favorite programs are the costume dramasl that ye so much, you like downton abbey, victoria, you like mr. selfridge, you like these programs or you like the science programs, you like frontline, the questioare 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 possib by the following foundations and viewers like you. when you watch these programs, are you one of the viewers they are talking about?ke did you contribution? are you shirttaili on someone else's contribution? are you confusing pbs and this station with commercialon televithat all you have to do is sit through some commercials? you don't see commercials on these stations. you will not see that on pbs. what you will see is content like no other content you'll receive. nowhere, not on cable television, not on commercial television. it's time, as we end the end ofm this proit is time to make the decision to donate now so that at the end of the program when you see "this program has been made available by people like you" you are one of those people.
>> he want to thank everyone who's called tonight. 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 who makes think about all the programs that you and your family enjoy in your home. name them off to yourself. i bet this is a lot, isn't outhere? think the value that that brings to you, think how much you enjoy turning on this station and being enlightened, y learning somethi didn't know before or maybe watching a child's face as they aretr uced to a concept they have never heard before, thegh deul 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 s won't you makethat donation rig? won't you make that phone call?
become a supporting member today. >> make a donation to this station and to pbs, it counts. it does make a difference.ve the 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, swhich you've been watchi but i want to remind you that it contains almost an hour of additional programming,n additional conversatth 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 develop that opinion and we've bee search for truth, objectiveis truth.
not faith and belief but truth. to find something that is undeniable. if two plus two is four, that's wouldn't be five or seven, based on what the political whims or what someone beeves. it would be for. that's the kind of reporting g that y here. and you will hear him here, you'll hr him here before you hear him anywhere else feel so we're asking you to think andri think sly about supporting this station. make sure that this kind of programming continues throughout, for your children and for your grandchildren. (audience applause) (upbeat music)
bayeux, with a pleasant town center and only six miles from the-day beaches, makefoa great home base visiting the area's sights. along the 75 miles of atlantic coast nearby, you'll find countless memories of the largest military operation in history. it was on these beautiful beaches, at the crack of dawn, june 6, 1944, that the allies finally eined a foothold in franc and nazi europe began to crumble. du american troops and their allied partners 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 hinting at the unimaginable carnage and chaos of that momentous day.
the small town of arromanches was ground zero for the d-day invasion. almost overnight, the allies erecd an immense prefab port enabling them to begin their victorious push to berlin. imagine the building of this incredible harbor. seventeen old ships steashd across the enghannel and were sunk, bow to stern, creating a four-mile-longr. protective breakwa then, with massive concrete platforms ads floating on pontoons nearly a mile long, the harbor w completed. 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 seems to celebrate that allied victory. [ cheering ] peace came at a huge price. e invasion cost over 4,000 allied lives.
the american cemetery at st. laurent crowns a bluff just above omaha beach in the eye of the d-day storm. thousands of tombstones glow in memory of americans er who gave their lives he to help free europe. the bluff overlooks the stretch of normandy beach called "the portal of freedom." while tranquilo ow, for those of us ren'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 the sacrifice so many brave men made in the cause of freedom. immediately after the war, all the bodies were buried in temporary graves. in the 1950s, when this cemetery was established,
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