Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2002 / 21 Kislev, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

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Talk is expensive when it comes to Bill Moyers | It is considered bad form in the world of broadcast journalism to criticize one's peers. It rarely happens, and when it does, the person lobbing the grenade often finds his foxhole quickly abandoned. That's because the TV and radio news business is really a small town where paths frequently cross. It is not nice to damage another person's career, since you may be working with or for that person some day.

And so it is with some trepidation that I take on the legendary Bill Moyers, now toiling at the tax-subsidized Public Broadcasting System (PBS). In the interest of fairness, I will tell you that Mr. Moyers has done some fine reporting and commentary on the plight of working Americans and has been rewarded with money and awards for doing so.

Let's take a look at both of those things, beginning with the money. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS and NPR, has an annual budget of about $2.2 billion. More than $300 million of that comes from the American taxpayer, according to the CPB Web site (

Moyers' production company, Public Affairs Television, gets paid by PBS, but it is unclear how much since PBS will not say. In return for the compensation, he does a weekly commentary program and some documentaries.

But here's the rub, according to an article by Stephen Hayes in "The Weekly Standard," Moyers owns the documentaries, and after they are broadcast on PBS, he sells the videocassettes, keeping the proceeds. So, in effect, you and I are partially funding Bill's TV projects, which he is personally profiting from. Do you have a problem with that? I do.

And there's more. Mr. Moyers receives $200,000 a year as the president of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, which has assets of close to $100 million! Moyers gives $2 million of that to his son John to run a left-wing Website called Tom OK, fine, he's a good dad.

But Moyers also gives grant money to PBS and National Public Radio. PBS in turn pays his production company. Uh-oh. Can you say conflict of interest? According to public records, the Florence and John Schumann foundation donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to PBS and NPR in the '90s.

And the sweetheart deals continue. In 2000, Moyers won a Columbia/Dupont Gold Baton award for a documentary on South Africa. He was hailed by the judges as a worthy successor to Edward R. Murrow. But what would old Ed have thought about the fact that Moyers had been giving the Columbia Journalism Review big donation money?

Might have made for an interesting Murrow documentary.

Maybe I am being a bit unfair to Bill Moyers, but I have tried to get his side of the story. However, he will never come to the phone when I call. I am beginning to take it personally, and perhaps I should. In a speech shortly after September 11, Moyers called me a warmonger, or some such, for advocating strong military action against Afghanistan. And I will cop to that. While Moyers might have given them grant money, I wanted to pound those that protected the Taliban into the pavement, that is if there is any pavement over there.

But my problem with Moyers is not ideological. I applaud him for speaking out on the issues of the day. I just don't want to subsidize him. Call me crazy, but I believe that Bill Moyers should not be profiting from taxpayer money.

Back when Moyers was working for Lyndon Johnson in the '60s, the great society programs were being launched. Billions of tax dollars were earmarked to help Americans improve their situations. Apparently, Bill Moyers learned much from those entitlement programs, because 40 years later, he, himself, is prospering partially from public funding.

It is indeed a great society. Especially if you happen to be Bill Moyers.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


11/18/02: Sanity has left the building
11/11/02: The right stuff
11/04/02: The Attorney General blues
10/28/02: This ain't no game
10/21/02: It's only rock and roll, but it's brutal
10/14/02: The root of all evil
10/07/02: When children murder
09/23/02: The death of outrage
09/17/02: Singing a different tune
09/09/02: Answering my critics about the Roush case
09/03/02: Let's misbehave
08/26/02: Money makes the world go 'round
08/19/02: Long live the King
08/12/02: A friendly reminder
08/05/02: Heaven only knows
07/29/02: Blood money
07/22/02: Suffer the children
07/15/02: Reaching critical mass
07/08/02: Believe it or not
07/01/02: Charity begins at home
06/24/02: Spinning a tale and the case for "Stupid White Men"
06/17/02: Blank those Europeans!
06/10/02: What does Bono want from us?
06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate