Who is Bill Moyers?

wiseGEEK Writer

Bill Moyers is one of the most identifiable figures in journalism in the 21st century. Born in 1934, his career in media has spanned over sixty years. Bill Moyers is known for his strong criticism of conservative media, and his coverage of diverse issues that were of particular interest to him. He was also actively involved in the campaign of John F. Kennedy, and served as Lyndon Johnson’s Press Secretary when Johnson took over after the Kennedy assassination.

Bill Moyers was actively involved in John F. Kennedy's campaign.
Bill Moyers was actively involved in John F. Kennedy's campaign.

For a journalist, Bill Moyers has an unusual background. He started work at 16 as a reporter for the Texas Marshall News Messenger. However, his interest in journalism competed with an equal interest in theology. He received a degree in Divinity from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was ordained a minister in 1959.

Bill Moyers served as press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson.
Bill Moyers served as press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson.

The call of public and political life did not keep him long as a minister, and he left ministry to direct Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign. After Kennedy’s assassination, Bill Moyers served informally as Secretary of State before assuming the role of Johnson’s Press Secretary.

In print media, he was the publisher of the New York Newsday for three years following his Press Secretary position. In 1971, however, he moved to television and began a ten year career hosting his own news program, Bill Moyers’ Journal which was produced by PBS. Bill Moyers spent the latter half of this time working as a senior correspondent for CBS as well.

In the 1980s, Bill Moyers became known for his insightful series programs. He is perhaps best known for his six-hour series of interviews with Joseph Campbell, produced in 1987. The interviews were aired in 1988, and were the last Campbell did before his death in 1987.

Bill Moyers also received critical acclaim for his show The World of Ideas in which he interviewed various scholars, scientists, politicians, and artists. He did two series of World. The interviews were transcribed and published, as was the Joseph Campbell series. All three books enjoyed great success.

While continuing to produce both series and books, most notably, The Language of Life and Healing and the Mind, Bill Moyers also returned to PBS to a more politically oriented format in NOW with Bill Moyers from 2001-2003. In 2004, Bill Moyers officially retired, but was not long kept from journalism and returned to PBS with a new series Wide Angle the following year.

Bill Moyers has received virtually every major journalist award, and some like the Peabody, multiple times. He was charged with bias by conservative journalists in 2004, and has since abandoned any pretense of objectivity to pursue more liberal goals of open support for the Democratic Party. His criticism of conservative journalism arises out of his concern for what he perceives to be ignorance of the growing chasm between the wealthy and the poor in the US. He is dedicated to trying to change especially Middle American thought on what constitutes good government.

With such an impressive array of accomplishments, and the respect of most of his colleagues in journalism, Bill Moyers may certainly achieve some level of success in his new political goals. However, constant attack by the conservative press may make those he most wants to reach resistant to his ideas. Regardless of partisanship, Bill Moyers is remarkable for his respect of great American thinkers and innovators, and as such, his series are fascinating studies for all.

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