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I was reading the list of Bushie statements on the certainty of WMD in Iraq in the Maccabee diary, and wondering where I had seen a similar collection---then quickly remembered it was on the PBS program NOW with Bill Moyers, not once, but twice.  

Bill Moyers retired from that program and from broadcast journalism in mid December.  There was a lot to preoccupy us then, but still, it remains sad to me that so little was said about the remarkable career and the remarkable service rendered by this remarkable man.

If there was any sort of tribute on kos, I missed it and it didn't show up in my search.  So I hope this is an opportunity to share memories and views.

In this Washington Post column, Tom Schales is already expressing regret at not supporting and praising Moyers more as a strong and steadfast liberal voice.

But Moyers was even more than an increasingly trenchant commentator and a fascinating "reality-based" journalist within the weekly TV magazine format.  

For one thing, he and his wife, Judith Davidson Moyers, and their team, produced some wonderful news documentaries, which has become a lost art on television.  If I were teaching documentary film, I would start with the hour on environmental issues they did just before NOW started.

But Moyers was unique because he regularly and comfortably went beyond news.  There simply has not been a TV reporter or program producer who was perfectly comfortable interviewing philosopher Martha Nussbaum, Jonas Salk and August Wilson, then hosting a scathing documentaries on campaign finance and global warming, after multiple hours exploring American poetry and medical, religious and economic points of view on death and dying.  

His effect on the culture has been unique.  He jump-started a health revolution with his series on the relationship of mind and body in medicine.  His interviews with Robert Bly put the men's movement on the cultural radar screen.  He made Joseph Campbell into an unlikely TV star, at the very end of his life.    

From "Listening to America" to "A World of Ideas" and finally to "Now," he has successfully defied labels and survived controversy.  Others have been suggested as television's Renaissance Man, but Moyers is the one who comes closest to deserving the title.

There was no interviewer like him for his knowledgeable ease with people in such a wide variety of fields.  Yet he always seemed to be, not the celebrity interviewer among celebrity guests, but our stand-in, bringing his curiosity and his experience.

I know his interviews and the related books opened doors for me to places I am still exploring, and in the numbing dumbed-down noise of a loudly deteriorating culture, he and his guests were often the company I most needed to keep.  I still re-read and re-watch those World of Ideas hours.

Now he's gone from NOW, which has been shrunken to a half hour, followed by an hour of right wing babble.  I can't believe that I'm the only one who will miss the Moyers voice and the Moyers touch.

On the bright side, he's probably going to be writing more.  His book, MOYERS ON AMERICA, is worth getting and keeping around to read and savor.  It is funny, passionate, trenchant and at times inspiring.  It often transcends its origins in speeches and commentaries.  So when he sits down to write pure books, I have high hopes for the results.    

Originally posted to dashbro on Fri Jan 14, 2005 at 03:20 PM PST.

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