tv A Conversation With Bill Moyers PBS March 17, 2019 6:30am-8:01am PDT
pl exe 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. l because to my mind bmoyers t broadcast journalist of our age. th he's won mor 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. he's introduced us to some of the world'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 aowtudio audience a man 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 mers. (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 poort 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 particularly men in the town who would say, "he's a comer let's help him. "he's a poor boy let's help him." so the rodeo club gave me a scholarship, the city commission let me come in and sit-in on their meetings.
i was just constantly touched by people older than i am who saw something in me that i dn't see in myself. so they just kept moving me from one opportunity to another. but you know in those days e of my best friends inune blalock,ot so great. who was the daughter of the richest man in town. but we went to the same school, we went to the same parties, we went to the same dances. and i never felt uncomf table in the presence of the kids in wetown whose parentsdances. r welly the more fortunate ones. and that's changed in this country today to a very disturbing extent. there's very little conversation, there's very little intercourse, there's very little communication, very little participation between the poorest people, poorest kids in our country, in our cities, o and those who are we. 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 relationship, and so that little town
said to me, you signify, you matter. it doesn't matter that your dad is poor. so those benefits in this small townter. were available to an ambitious young man who was white. - you are 14 years old, you're in marshall, texas, and there's a political rally, and for the first time in your life you see in person lyndon bais 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 very contested and i have no doubt illegal votes down in the valley of texas. but he was campaigning hard in a helicopter, w didn't want to see a helicopter 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. now i later learned that he did that at every stop and he had somebody on his aff 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. at this was just not e had an endless supply of stetsons in the helicopter, but i remember that he spoke to the crowd without a microphone. must have been 1,000, 2,000 people, at courthouse square. big man, boisterous, stentorian in his tall, 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 f president for the first time in his own right. - so you, north texas, university of texas austin,
southwest theological seminary would stop in edinburgh and spend some time to study. committed to becoming a preacher, preaching in two churches upon graduation. in buhere somewhere is a letter that you sent to lbj suggesting that the young voice wasn't being heard as much, and maybe you knew somethi. and he was struck by that apparently, because he called you. - i had been at north texas state college as in upstate tnd i would go stop at the student union fromthime to time and watcmccarthy 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 of reasonable dialogue and reasonable politics and the senate had called him to question was about to censor him.
and sitting in t student union watching those hearings i became very engaged. don't ask me exactly why it was, as i say, i was 20 i'm 82 now that was a long time ago. t felt maybe i wanted to be a political journalist. i planned to be a journalist i was working my way through the colleges on the publicity staff of the college covering the sports fromnehe college and writinletters. i went to my office on a saturday afternoon wrote a letter to, i had never t senator johnson except to see him from the helicopter. and i wrote a letter saying, i'd like to learn about politics a and you're icampaign down he where you're trying to reach young people and i think i'veot and you've got something for me. the letter got to his desk, he always wanted to have brht, young men around him thjohn connally becamedesk, hegovernor and many others af were young men on his at one time in his career. and i went to washington and spent the mmer in fact when i got off the trolley that brought me over to the capitoly here his senate majorfice was
and he took my hand he wasand said, "come on,"ley, he didn't even have a warm greeting he ust took me 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, u uld hit the pedal and a metal plate would come through, the stamp would come down, and print the address on the envelope. so in-between eight o'clock at night, ng and seven the next mor i addressed by foot 275,000 envelopes. i hadn't even unpacked my bag and i hadn't gone to the room where i was staying, and that impressed him. ov so then he moved me to his own office to answer his own correspondence and there i was at 20 totally inexperienced in ts, writing his letters to eisenhower, writing his letters to the secretary of state, writing his letters to his contributors in texas, and we bond. i was going back to th small college at the end of the summer at his desk said, "you know, ai 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, "mr. leader i don't have any money, "i'm going to get married, and i've got a job te "in norts in denton," he said, "i'll give you a job-- - [don] ktbc? - [bill] ktbc the radio station which somehow "i'mysteriously wasb-- - [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 we a hundred dollars that was astonishing in '54. it was more adan my father had everin his life as i said earlier and i went down anekhe worked me 40 hours a 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. (audience 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, 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 toe ove back to austin whhad been accepted to do my phd in american civilization and had a teaching assistantship at baylor university which is a baptist school y between dallas and austin. and the phone rang, it was two days after cistmas, and it was lyndon jo hson, i hadn't talked in two and a half years. he said, "bill howe you doi" "i'm fine, mr. leader." "what are you doing," he said. "i'm packing to go ba 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 pack forashington, "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." (audnce laughs) and so i spent that year back in his office around the country, seeingding all of the politicians,el, meeting them, watching what happened. they were heavy drinkers in those days, l and after y of campaigning they'd come to the hotel d they would drink until 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 in the morning and i had to stay up until it was over. of course i learned a lot, butradually, 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 mat i started to go back to texas then, and he said, "no stay through the election and so i did and "tduring 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 duringorld war ii, and the caroline which was john kennedy's plane. and i got to know the irish mafia, to be frank and others have writt 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 somewhat valuable. el so when thtion came and we won, barely, as you know, john kennedy came down to the lbj ranch and i'm sure that lbj set him up for this, but john kennedy waseaving and he turned on the porch of the lbj ranch saw me leaning in the corner, came over and said, "i hear you're notming with" 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?"
heand just aeweed you in wamonths into workin. in the vice president's office, boring job, he was bored o n of his mind, it was-job at that time, and i had written a speech for lbj, he said, "i don't have a speech, i'm going to spe "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 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 nnedy announced that he was going to start the peace corps, that's what i wanted to do so i began anwhat became a strenuousalmostt to rest myself free of the vice president's office. and i was one of the founding organizers of the peace corps, becaits firr 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 sh e the identity of america in the world
and to give them a sense of the world th they would bring back. and i can't tell you every time i come to minnesota, every time i go to the hubert humphrey institute, i gave the keynote speech at the humphrey institute when they opened it. people come up to me, my age and younger, "w and they saywere in the peace corps, "it was a defining moment of my life." it was mine, ir.ouldn't have been happ 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 go down there." "we sent an italian, advance man from boston, br "whom i knew, jerro, we sent him down there, "and he just can't, they can't understand each other. "our efforts, we've got to raise money. e'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 th he governor and the labor people, and the liberals and the conservatives until the presidentt out . sitting at the forty acres club at the university of texahaving lunch
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, "mr. moyers you've got a call," so i went and took it. it was bill paine the secret service agent assigned to me inllas and, "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 betweeaustin and dallas, robert trout on cbs said in a"the president is dead." i landed at love field, started to town,o the hospital, parkland hospital and got a dispatcher's cl saying, "the president, lyndon johnson now, was on air force one went back, went upight to air force one,ed.
the secret service stopped me, he didn't know me, and i wrote a note-- - what did it say? - it's in the library. mr. president, don't ask me why intuitively i started calling him mr. president. i'd always called him senator, or leader. mr. president i'm here if you ne me, bill moyers. a few minutes later the secret service agent came back and called me up the steps and ther.i was on air force o - [don] what was going througyour 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 real prepared for it. i was a practical guy. i mean in the campaign of '60, organizing the peace corps, iv those were administr and managerial jobs. and i had never even been in the white house and i was standing at the back of that plane, b saying, "how canhelpful?"
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 , and i realized then that he had things on his md 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 had that sense of doing the details and not being conspicuous about it. but there were no great and noble, or fearful thoughts in mind on that ple coming back. >> hi, everybody.
my name is don shelby. i'the person who's sitting next to bill moyers in the program that you're watching. and it has been the highlight of my life. i whas first asked to host the program and to ask the questions of bill moyers, knew that he was not going to be as forthcoming because he's very modest person, he doesn't like to talk about himself. in fact, in the first break that we took, he leaned overog and aped to me and said, "i'm sorry i'm talking so much." no, that's cool, you can talk as much as you want to. this show that you're watchingme was fo 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 administraon when he was present for the creation of what we now call history. which is perfectly fitting for been said that journalistslways
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 aa landmark of the great journalism that is produced. 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 and i'm a member of public television, and i'm asking you to give your support this eving, as well, around thi wonderful program. when you do do it with a gift of $84 or $7 a month, we will beto happift 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 extraur as well, because we just were not able to fit it all into this program. it is truly a special recollection from bill moyers. o with a gift $1$1 a month as a sustaining mber, 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 has a personal introduction byoy bills setting the stage, telling you how it was that day in the sdio. 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 only is it the d.v.d. but a it also includiewer's guide and extra footage thatgi was not in the ol 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 w? call the number on the bottom of your screen or go online to show your support for this very special program on your public levision station. >> when bill moyers left the l.b.j. white house, spent some time working on other projects and then he ended up at wnet in new york city. his first touch with public broadcasting, anthen, 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 ns and then he went back to wnet, because 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? ise only way we can do tha if we somehow pull ourselves together and make money available for your local public television station.on that is th way we're going to continue to get that kind of journalism coverage.ea it here you can trust what you get. >> you keep great conversations coming with your financial contribution to this station ke a monthly sustaining gift of $7 or a one-time donation of a4 and we'll thank you wi 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 "bill moyers' journal, the conversation connues." 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 anrv inw 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 spire, to entertain, toion 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.d u have the opportunity to make decisions, and then it makes democracy work and it's moyers that it is a deyll in peril, unless we do act, unlesse do make these decisions on our own. you want the education. you want the inspiration. you want those things in your life and they're not available elsewhere. you can watch all the cable, all the commercial channels you want to and you won't get whatt you your station. so i hope you will join us in supporting this station. mestican the white house, lbj pledged to carry out john f. kennedy's missio 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 andreams. did you resent the war in that way, did you resee the war as a man of oth? 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 and bundy. and as the war began to escalate it was very troubling. and had said, "this is gonna end in disaster." it was tragic, it was one of those tragedies of history which lyndon johnson is responsibleor that changed the course of our society. frustratra the great society pr, adsnuffed them out in the .
i mean every constituency that we had practically for the great society program for remaking in thitutions of america, schools, roads and all of that was a victim of the vietnawar. many times i left in january of '67 because i felt what i cared about was no longer being nurtured, no longer being funded, and there was no longer a priority of lyndon johnson. , he had to en 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 ttopping the bombing north. and i used to go to 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. an- 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 pr i was toucheessionally and personally for why you said you won't do it. would you tell people why youon't? - there were so many reasons i can't be sure i'm remembering the one that you are referringo. there were many reasons, many reasons. first of alli 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 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 thatushen i left the white 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 inew 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, sei had to get all of toxes out including the carcasses 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, 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. johnsone jack valenti, me, horsby
. and a couple of othe 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 it the midst of this grunami. ananso i just put my files all my correspondence, 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 which was in trouble, and the information about the movement of chinese troops f towards the borderrea, and right on down the line there was one issu after another. and what did we know about them? at did i know 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 yr,rs, "a man is no bet 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 if you don't mind my saying so, unthss i can back it up vidence. - you said in a couple of places, in some of the books that you have written more than a dozen books. oand the thousands of hou 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 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 easr 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 iok at it that way, aever have. but let f say in the cruciblewer 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 lot of stakes. you don't see there are consequences until you are out of the battle, till the war is over. and you can read what the other side said the other troops on the other side of the trches or the files in north vietnamese records
or in the kremlin library you don't really know that you misjudged it or de a mistake, presidents or staff assistants to the president you make a lot omistakes. and if you let the mistakes eat away at you they will destroyou. but you learn certain things, thatthan if you artrying to co. are tryi to report the truth 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 secretari. he said, "i want you to be press secretary," sa , "mr. president i don't want to do it, "thank you anyway." d the second time didnit. the third time i said, "yes," because i'd still have my shou er out of joint here. and that afternoon i theflew 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?" 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 understan 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 rving the press i more thas 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 office was the briefing room. by the way there were only about 40 or 50 accredited reporters in the white house then. there are now 1,100, so i had a small fice,
and we'd brief the press there (laughs). i knew we had carefully arranged for the president to go to bbut i couldn't let that out suntil after three o'clock.y. because the first line that would have gone out from the press corps they would have rushed out and said, "johnson to gfor surgery." and we agreed we called the fed, we called the secretary of the treasury, "oh no it could bring the market down "if you do it before three o'clock. "it could bring a government down." and johnson said, "it could bring my gernment down." 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 dean of the white house correspondents his wife had a really close friend who was a nurse
his wife had a 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 leven to smoke cigars, i smoked. he said because you're going to be asked very tough questns and you're going to need 30 seconds to think of the answer. and if yu 're smoking a cigar n light it up and you've got 30 seconds to compose your answer. (audience laughs) soar was hooked i smoked a c 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." c he smoarettes, so i walked around him and locked my door from the inside, took the key and put it in my pocket. fromwhy office to the lobby e the press phones were and he said, "damnit i knoit "i'm gonna go out and write it." so he opened the door, he couldn't get it open. s we were seven minull 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, "y, son of a bitch," he sa know you got, "just nod, just confirm it some way. "otherwise i'm going to take your "no answer as a confirmation." so finally he calmed down a little bit and at three o'clock i pushed the button to the outside the press came back in and i made the announcement. then they started asking l these questions and then and there i said to myself, as i lighted aigar, again, "i want to be on their side asking the questions, "than on my side not answering them." - let's leave the ite 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 d what it wove been like to walk into some place like cbs and say,
"i got an idea two guys sitting down facing "each other talkg for a series "of six long shows about mythology." they would have told you, you were crazy. - they would have called bellevue hospital. (audience laughs) i wish i could claim exclusive rights to the idea, but i had colleagues w talked about joseph campbell and i haread the hero with a thousand faces when i was at the and didn't understand it, but i had read it and remembered it. and then i read that he had been advising george lucas on the star wars film. so i called him up and he said,n "of course i'd love to sit and talk with you." on cbs wouldn'tder it, my friends at pbs, they saw the value of it and they put up a good bit of the money that i had to raise to do it. and we did 20 some-odd hours overwo summers '85 and '8keat george lucas's skywranch.
- so myths are stories of the search by men and women through the ages for meaning, for significance, to make lifeignify, to touch the eternal, to 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 isn 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 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 re stion initially from ttion was, "what?"
two guys sitting there, two white guys, sitting there ing about mythology? and w had no promotion and t 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's the most, it's what i will beemembered for introducing this great teacher to a mass audience. because it was repeated over and again it became for years the best fundraiser for publicroadcasting. i rolieve there's no betterction value than the power f i when you let people thlook at your face, and your emotions, and your eyes, and the intens your participatiin this cn y in there's no way i could create that with technology. ou whenell somebody, "i love you," if you're fortunate you tell them when you're this close to them. if you ask them to marry you,
you're looking right into their eyes. there t no power greater th human face for the purpose of television, and television makes us intimate strangers. and so beian able to sit like thitalk is probably the most personal experience we have outside of sex. and since that's limited for many people, conversay on is absolutely the entertain ourselves. let me tell you a story. a year after that series aired, i was walking out ofll restaurant, la cararestaurant, on 8th avenue, between 55th and 56th. i was walking down the street and a young, african american woman was coming this way. and as you know, television makes us intimate strangers and you think you know everybody yosee on television. i and i think souitive reason that i know the people who are wthching, i've never los sense of the oeople on the other sithe 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, e? "do you have a min i said, "sure," she said, "i came to new york tr "to be an s 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 "he just suddenly lefthaven't . "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 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 said,
"when i had left that morning, s had left my televisi on, "and i heard these two guys talking about "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?' t "a other one said, 'no, no, no, 'i think they're looking 'for the experience of being alive,'" and she said, "you know something snapped in me, "and then i heard a voice of the announcer say, 'come back next week, (audience laughs) 'for the second edition of 'bill moyers and joseph campbell on the poweof 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." e now those stories mmon for people 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, it and why i've done or 44 years. and why i've done a thousand or more hours ofelevision because public affairs is more than the news of the day, it's the truth of poetry, which is a greater truth that you can getom any po. william carlos williams said, "people are dying "for a lack of the news theyewd" it can take people par away, it can conneple who don't know each other, intimate strangers. i an 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 cuneiform tablet, it's not the printed word which is wonderful, ag but it's a marof the two 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. i ant you to think back to a moment in time when he mentioned that woman that he just bumped into on e streets, who had in her mind the idea that she was going to end her life and hheard heron say, i saw this show, "the power of the myth" with joseph campbell, i changed my mind". and i hope that you're thinking about doe $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 requested of the d.v.d.snd published by pbsade available to the public. more people still seek that. you can ve that in your home. we have only pbs to thank for that. your local station. [music] >> you keep great conversationst comingyour 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 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. wi your gift of $252, or a sustaining contribution of $ 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.ve please call and o this station right now. thank you for your support. >> if you listen to what josepha bell said, that people are searching for an experience of living, an experience for living.it hanged 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 formation, that is an important thing to remember in this day and age.il so i hope that yousupport
this local television station. i hope that you will support pbs so that we continue to bring you the kind of inepth reporting analysis and mind-changing opinion-changing and altering information that it has always given you. >> sustaing membership is an easy, convenient and affordable way support the programs yo 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 gow online or call all get it set up for you. your donation will happen automatically each month so your support will always be oucurrent. ifant to change your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. go online or call to start yourm sustainibership right now. >> and the time to do that is right now, by making your phone
call and giving a finaial contribution to help keep this station strong. when you make that phone call, with a gift of $7 a month as a sueaining member, you can h this wonderful d.v.d. to enjoy in your home, to share wh others, perhaps, to listen to more in depth and,s remember, therv.d. extras included with that, anad tional 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'llo send you bill moyersnal, "the conversation continues." this is a companion book to that iconic program that he did here on pbs and it includes so many incredible interviews. you have robert bly talking about poetry, shelby steele on race, there are soany in-depth interviews in here, in fact, it's 43 interviews, what a wonderful way to really enjoy bill moyers with tok and this d.v.d. or, with a gift of $21 a month,
"the power of myth." now enjoyable would it be foris you to have n your home to listen to this conversation that has had such an impact forn soyears. the important thing, though, is for you to figure out whatyo works foand 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 on your own experience in your life and the importance of pbs and the shows it has brought you, and the joy that it hasyo brough the information that it has brought to you, andi the way thhas helped your children, the shows that have been so important to them fr "sesame street" all the way to this progr today. so, remember that this local station is your lifeline to
incredibly important information, and so it is worth your time and yourollars. >> 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 proam which includes nearly an hour of adtional conversation, plu questions and answers with bill 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 anniversary ries "the power of myth" with joseph campbell. withour 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.yo 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. >> your contribution in any amount would be preciated. we know what the economy is like, we know that some people ee doing better, some peo 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 the television with this television station pbs show that i'm watching or s should i leone 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 saygi that you shoul until it
hurts. i think better way to say that yois to give until it make feel great. and if you believe thathis station and pbs has been importanto you and will be important in the future, the only way that it can be important in the fute is if there is funding. with all the news out there today, it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction. w but here you can trut you get from your station. slease give and give gener ! 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 "they can be trusted with their government." now that's what is usually quoted. tu but ly that quotation goes on, s, and jefferson contin "that whenever things get so far wrong
t "as to attrair 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, atimes, 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. supply of what it takes to think critically,d but many others are, it's like journalism. i don't speak of thmedia anymore because o'reilly's in the media and bill moyers is in the media re and weifferent journalists. but no, i think today, with the complexity of the issues, although in those days they were complex issues of forming a government
i don't think people are as informedtion. as we need for democracy to function for government to be held accountable for huge economic institutions to be checked with balance. e the whcret 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 then ty are. what we need is checks 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 and the other's holding it account. so i don't think the american people are w asle, are as informed as we need for democracy w k and it's very difficult today given most people spend all day making a living, holding two jobs, raising a family, lp trying to n their church, trying to work as volunteers at the public television station they're busy. that's why the accountability of politicians
is so important because they're a professional people thatdesigned to solve the accoproblems but democracyans 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 performinan for millions of amer our highway system is cominapart. we should be able to solve those problems, by depending upon the politicians and bureaucrats who we elect are employed to take those problems thate one of us alone can sod we're not, this country is unraveling, t and we need ly more information we need more time to be active citizens. change does come but it never comes swiftly, 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 allf that. but they're up against almost insurmountable odds and if we had a truly independent, non-partisan, truth telling media we'd be in a lot better shape. you know there's a great line in the play night and day by tom stoppard, ph where the photog in that play says, "people do terrible things to each other, "but it's worse when they do it in the dark." nt and we're settlinga dark period in american life, during which everybody's happy because we're thusing ourselves to d we watch how mayy hours, i go on the su in new york city and every week they put new posters up there are new cable television shows, dwand new plays on br and all of that. and there's so much to do and the web is constantly consuming obsessively consuming people.
theruss so much to entertain hat as my friend the late neil postman who taught communications at new york university said in his famous book, using ourselves to death, we will probably die laughing because of the little we know. - it comes down to this issue it seems to me, bill, i ths the difference between providing people what they need to know versus what they want to know. and the invention of, the surv, where we have asked the publ what would you like to see on the news? as opposed to, damnit, this is what you're getting. becauso this is what you needow in order to be a citizen and cast a reasonable informedopini. we don't, or they, don't do it anymore. because ratings, circulation, are more important.
eathere's a prophet in ng viewers as consumers instead of citizens in the great gift of public iolevision and public r is that we still somehow with the help of people like this it's been able to hold to the idea of the american people as a community of citizens, not consumers. (audience 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 bastd muses and there were three bastard muses. propaganda, which plntds for a particular pf view
sometimes unscrupulously at the expense of the total truth , sentimentaliich works to create an emotional response in excess of and unwarranted by the occasio and pornography, which focuses on one powerful drive at the expense of the whole personality. in that little interview i did with cleanth brooks, ow i don't long time ago, comes to my mind almost every time i try to watch the news on corporate news, because it is propaganda, largely, sentimentality, largely, and pornography, in the terms of its twisted view of the human being and they have also twisted the heart out of what it means to be a cizen. 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 said, the responsibility of one party to tell the truth about the other party, neither party does that today. er- i would call joseph he a ce 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 coentment but "absolutely useless in application." do you agree? - not with you absolutely, but i do believe at oting 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 brd meetings, and struggle, and argue for what they want. so i don't agree wholly with him. t i dolieve in pure democracy, i don't believe you can put an issue out there and enough people will be able to be well informed and act on it you have to read the sentiment of the public and this is the terrible consequence of too uch money in politics. of threpresentativehis is the tgovernment is a flawed but necessary form of democrac 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 sometime they don't even satisf thmost of the constituents sabut we hire themnstituents m e good judgments. 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 t determinant of the outcomes of politics. and at's why what's happened rt we need a democracy in which people feel ta sense as with publevision that they're well considered in the programs nd we've put onhe policies we adopt in politics and we don't have that at the moment, rarely. i mean we have a dysfunctional government in washington toy. 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 thg. was a very difficult th but they had this built-in conict, that i didn't realize when i was growing up, w i mean the m wrote, "all men are created equal," with his hand on that pen
that was the same hand that caressed the breasts and thighs ohis sla. different time, different morality, but how could he esreconcile writing noble words, "a" men are created equaen he bedded a young woman over whom he had total domination and she had to do whhe wan? se they had thildren together, how do you reconcile ose opposites in your mind? i don't know but it is that conflict ose opposites in your mind? in the intelligence and decision making of the people in power that we have to constantly question. and so i have a different view of the constitution i mean i didn't even know when was growing up that it protected slavery, and that many of the founders la were owners. slavery is woven like a dark thread
through our history and ourabfo. anthe point of it is 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. to me the declaration is the much greater, more powerful, of the instruments our government. so when you keep revising, the older you get, you keep revising what you know. that's why living to an old age if you're luy to have your health is a wonderful, internal, and perpetual university. on - final questo you mr. moyers and that is would you repeat for them a story that jeph campbell said to you at the conclusion of all of the interviews
when it was finally done. when he edked whether you inte to stay in this line of work? - yeah we had been together those twoummers and i was leaving to come back, it wasn't the last time i saw him e becaen 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. me i called him at his n hawaii and 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, ky when i was leavinglker ranch for the last time t he walked with me our car. and he said, "are you going to stay in this?" i had not been certain about journalism "are you going to not bestay in this work?"ectory. 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 ta-pher, instead of metaphor, the heroes journey is one as he describes it as, "the person man or woman "faces dangers and unknown , terrors and drama, "returns with the prize after the fight "and tells the story and from t story s "we then the her it can begin our own heroes journey." bill moyers i speak for a lot of people, but this is very personal, you are the metaphor. you are the heroes journey, and i thank you so much for being a part of this evening. ll - hank you. (audience applause)
>> important information thatte you receive on thivision station can be entertaining. it has been entertaining. it's entertaining to yr 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 th place you turn when you want to create for yrself an informed partnership. now, as a person who's worked almost a half a century in commercial television, i can tell you this, that its a popularity contest. they're seeking people who will watch them and in order to do that, commercial television gives people what they want to know as opposed to what they need to know. that was part of the conversation with bill moyers. but at the same time, i need to tell you that that is not a question that your station is asking. it is not asking the question
whether it is popular, it is requesting whether you need the information it is about to provide. you see what's on your screen right now. for $7, that's $84 a year, this d.v.d., which is the d.v.d. of the program that you're watching right now, but i need to hasten to add for you that there is almost an hour addional information. 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 tohe bill moyers continue to talk about things you're not seeing on this program. plus, we had a studio audience and they asked questionsf bill moyers which he answers in his in imitable way. so please think about is $7 a month and make sure this is in >> you know how you mae that is in your house, how you make sure public television isin our house, you give a contribution. this is what it's about, youog comeher 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 will be happy to share with you this wonderful prograwith all that extra material that we are not now, with a gift of $1 month, this is very special at d.v.d. of this fascinating conversation but you will also get his compion book to his program, "bill moyers journal." every interview has a personal introduction from bill moyers, setting the scene for you, as you will enjoy having your home. now, with a gift of $21 a month, our gift to you is a wonderful icic series, "the power of myth." this is a six-hour seminal series that we've talked so much about with joseph campbell.t ly is it that but there's extras, too. there's a 28-minute interview with george lucas and there isgu also a 12-page viewee that goes along with that. what's up to you right now, though, is to decide you want to support this wonderful station by cling the number at the bottom of the screen and saying you want to be part of
wonderful telesion. >> 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, what it's meant to you personally and whether you wantv to be personallyved in supporting the kind of programminthat you have 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 deal i lethis program, and we would like to ask you toti support this s so that we can continue with this. i hope that you would support with money this station in ogramming continues on pbs.d of i hope you will think very, very hard right now about getting up, picking up the d 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 love.o support the programs you sustaining members make an ongoing monthly contributionei from either credit card or checking account. just choose the monthly amount yowould like to give. then go online or call and we'lget it set up for you. your donation will happen automatically each month soup yourrt will always be current. current. if you want to change your sustaining membership, just contact us. monthly contributions begin as low as $5 per month. go online or call to start your sustaining membership right now. ♪ music >> you keep great conversations coming with your financialnt bution to this station today. make a monthly sustaining gift o of $7 or-time donation of $84 and we'll thank you wi a includes nearly an hou, which 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 thed. prograd. plus the book "bill moyers' journal, the conversati continues." with 43 in-depth interviews from his popular tv series. enjoy the 25th anniversaryof editiohe seminal series, "the power of myth" with joseph campbell. with you are gift of $252, or a sustaining contribution of $21h. per mo the three-d.v.d. set includes new footage noseen 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.r station right now.r thank you ur support. if you think about the fuel of your automobile, whether youe using some kind of petroleum or using the energy of the sun or using battery power, or
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 aong way of saying that it is your contribution that powers your station, that powers pbs. the more power you put into it, the greater the performance you're going to get out of it. ngso if then that pbs is d- so if you think that pbs isdo g a pretty good job right now, just think what it would do if it had the resrces, fit had the participation of every lies on what goes on on pbs and on your station. think about how much it has meant to you over the years, how much it means now. support your public television station. >> you know what, you can support your lal 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 ornl you goe, whatever works
for you and your family's perhapwould like to yodget. support with a gift of $7 a month as a sustaining memberan get the d.v.d. of the wonderful program that we're enjoying. or the gift of $13 a month and not only get that d.v.d.ut also get the bill moyers'ur l, the companion book to that with 43 interviews. or may $21 a month would work for you and your family's budget and y would like to have "the power of myth" to joy along with the progr that we're watching," conversation with bill moyers." the all suggested levels. what's really important is you choose aamount that works for you and your family and call the number on the bottom of your screen or go onne 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 like
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levision so won't you ma that donation right now? won't you make that phone call? become a supporting meer today. >> make a donation to this station and to pbsit counts. 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 is conversation with bill moyers,ee which you'vewatching she but i want to remind you that it contains almost an hour of additional programming, c additionversation with bill moyers. we're in an interesting, interesting period in our histy and it is time to develop an informed opinion. he's had 83 years to develop w that opinion ave been the beneficiaries of that, in his
search for truth, objective truth. not faith and belief but truth. to find sothing that is undeable. if two plus two is four, that's a fact. it wouldn't be five or seven, based on what the political whims or whasomeone believes. it would be for. that's the kind of reporting that you get here. you'll hear him here byoue, hear him anywhere else feel so we're asking you to think and think seriously aboutng supporhis station. make sure that this kind of programming continues throughout, for your children and for your grandchildren. (audience applause) (upbeat music)
steves: the latin quarter is the core of the left bank, as the south side of the seine river is known. as long been the city's university district. in fact, the university of paris, leading university in medieval europe, was founded here in the 13th century. back then, the vernacular languages, like french and german, were crude, good enough to handle your basic needs. but for higher learning, academics like this guy spoke and corresponded in latin. until the 1800s, from sicy to sweden, latin was the language of europe's educated elite, and parisians called this university district "the latin quarter" because that's the language they heard on the streets. today, anynt of that latin is buried by a touristy tabbouleh of ethnic restaurants. still,remains a great place
a feel for the tangled city, before the narrow lanes were replaced by wide, modern boulevards in the 19th century. the scholarly and artsy people of this quarter brewed up a new rage, paris's café scene. by the time of the revolution, the city's countless cafés were the haunt of politicians and philosophers who plotted a better future e.as they sipped their cof and the café society really took off in the early 1900s as the world's literary and artistic avant-garde converged on paris. in now-famous cafés aialong boulevard st. ge and boulevard st. michel, free thinkers like hemingway, lenin, and jean-paul sartre enjoyed the creative freedom these hangouts engendered.
- [narrator] expxplore through programs like this, made available for everyone through contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. - hello i'm paula kerger, president of pbs. our goal in public television is to bring you a wide array of perspectives and voicesen in history, s and the arts. today we are so pleased to present henry louis gates jr. uncovering america which celebrates one of our most impactful historians. professor gates is an awarwinning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and culturacritic who helps us discover our shared historyre baling surprising connections this insightful look at an extraordinary man is made possible because of thank you so much.ort.