This surprisingly less than biased article in the NY Times informed me today of a happy occasion: the retirement of PBS pseudo-journalist/guru Bill Moyers. Although it does make the mistake of calling Moyers a progressive (he isn't, he's an anti-capitalist authoritarian reactionary), it does manage to give something resembling equal time to some of Moyers's detractors, which, for the NY Times, is no mean thing. Well worth reading.
As for my own thoughts regarding Moyers (and don't take my word for it, Laurence Jarvik's book PBS: Behind the Screen has an excellent, and somewhat frightening, chapter-length deconstruction of Moyers's long and disgraceful career) I should say that I speak as someone who grew up in Boston, a community where Moyers was considered to be a figure somewhere between Ghandi and JFK in the pantheon of beautiful souls; I have seen Moyers-worship up close, and it has only served to confirm my belief that Moyers was the American media's foremost Chomskyite, and we can only view both his growing irrelevance -- which has served more than anything else to drive him off the egomaniacal deep end -- and imminent retirement from the stage as a victory for the anti-Chomskyite cause.
Moyers, in his ideology and the conduct of his career was the very picture of the Chomskyite in action; he was enraptured with the picture of his own moral and intellectual righteousness; he demonized and slandered those of whom he disapproved in the most hysterically vicious terms while still maintaining a self-image of injured morality; he routinely lied, distorted, covered up and omitted in his desire to control the information available to his viewers in order to swing them to his ideological control; he was completely incapable of viewing his political opponents as anything other than agents of apocalyptic evil and corruption; he engaged in relentless apologetics for terrorism, tyranny and anti-semitism; he refused to recognize communism or radical Islam and America's battle against them as anything other than symptoms of the evil hardwired into the system of capitalism and the just desserts of the United States as capitalism's foremost practical manifestation; he claimed to be a populist spokeman for the downtrodden when in fact he was the scion of a tiny elite which despises ordinary Americans and has nothing but contempt for their beliefs and opinions.
But more than this, he also was the very manifestation of that uniquely Chomskyite quality of eruptive, uncomprehending hypocrisy. He denounced corruption and cronyism in the relationship between business and government, yet he was the very epitome of it, making millions of dollars on the backs of American tax payers due to his extensive connections in the small clique of public television; he derided racism and yet refused to deal with the anti-semitic attitudes of interviewees like Joseph Campbell, Edward Said, and Chomsky himself; he claimed to support rational and intelligent discourse, yet aggrandized faith healing and routinely engaged in vicious namecalling rather than debate; he denounced secrecy in government and business and yet refuses to this day to disclose the details of his business dealings; even in his final moments onscreen, he ranted and raged against the conservative media as an imminent threat to democracy, with no seeming comprehension of the fact that he himself has been the most flagrantly ideological journalist of the last quarter century.
Moyers was to television what Chomsky is to the world of political writing: a debased and fanatical authoritarian paranoic with no capacity for self-examination, self-criticism, or even the basic humanity necessary required to admit that your opponents may not, in fact, be demonically, apocalyptically evil. He corrupted his profession, his medium, and his viewers, and in so doing flagrantly exploited the many hardworking Americans who were forced by their government to make him rich. He will no doubt, as Chomsky has been, be privy to much attention and accolade in these waning days of his career, but we may take comfort in the fact that as both of these monuments to intellectual venality fade away, they do so raving and seething at the world which is now swiftly, and thankfully, leaving them behind.