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Double Down: Bill Bids Farewell

Watching Bill Moyers Journal is much like attending a college lecture from the best professor you ever had. His hour-long program is chock full of compelling and indispensable information that speaks to the fabric of this little project we’re all working on. Though some folks beholden to rigid political ideology consider Moyers nothing more than a loopy liberal, watching his show reveals that the man is just a devout populist hungry for better government and honest discussion.

Though a lot of people bidding farewell to Bill tonight have watched him for decades, I only came to know his show in 2007 (forever grateful, Father). I was incredulous at the conversations he would have every Friday night — conversations being the operative word. There’s not much yelling on public broadcasting, but Moyers goes even further. His discussions with guests make the solutions to all of the great ills of society seem simple.

Moyers is our staunchest advocate — steadfastly independent of the mainstream media and inexorably devoted to addressing the root causes of what’s ailing our country. I imagine if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert weren’t allowed to crack wise, their shows would end up looking something like Moyers’ broadcast. Watching Bill talk to Jon, it was evident that the two commentators were cut of the same cloth:

We’re about to lose one of our great thinkers — one who was driven by obligation, not ambition. He turned down high-ranking positions in presidents’ cabinets, laughed at requests to run for office, and came out of retirement to present the arguments that weren’t being made. But, at 76, you have to respect the man’s desire to fulfill obligations outside of the industry he had a hand in forming. No longer will we have protracted discussions about man and his myth. No longer will there be a voice of reason sitting at the table on a Friday night. In a piece semi-eulogizing Bill in the Los Angeles Times, Neil Gabler bemoaned the gaping hole that will be left on television after tonight, arguing “There is no shortage of loudmouths on television. There is, however, a very short supply of soft-spoken moralists — exactly one.”

He continued,

Moyers has always sought the most interesting thinkers, people who would never otherwise be on television, and then discussed their ideas in search of timeless truths. In the last two months alone, he has interviewed naturalist Jane Goodall, playwright Anna Deavere Smith, economist James K. Galbraith and U.N. human rights investigator Richard Goldstone — a disparate group, none of them exactly headliners. In a sense, then, the title of one of his series, “Now,” was a misnomer. Moyers has never been about now. He has always been about something beyond the moment. Or put another way, while everyone else in the media has been exploring topography, Moyers has been exploring geology. This belief in the efficacy of ideas in the service of good is also what has made him such an extraordinary interviewer.

Do your best to catch the last episode of the Journal tonight at 9 on your local PBS affiliate. We all know Boots will: