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February 7, 2005
Bill Moyers, The Strib, And "Damnable Lies"

PBS pontificator Bill Moyers, whose reputation always far exceeded his pedantic and leftist contributions, has made quite a mess out of his retirement. Moyers gave a speech at Harvard that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published as an opinion piece, celebrating an award from an environmental group. Instead of focusing on facts, Moyers flew off into left-wing fantasyland -- and slander:

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious.

The "ever-engaging Grist" turned out to have lied about this little non-factoid, and Moyers reveals just how bad of a journalist he truly was in this one speech. He delivers this smear while only checking one source, doing no research -- Moyers surely has access to the Congressional record -- simply because it fits his preconceived notions about Christians, Reagan, and Republicans. The Strib equally shows its editorial pages as nothing more than a holdover of yellow journalism by republishing his speech without doing any kind of basic fact-checking.

This smear may have passed without challenge had John Hinderaker at Power Line not challenged Moyers' speech on other grounds. That effort led to an extraordinary phone call:

Friday morning, I was sitting in my office when my telephone rang. On the phone was a soft-spoken man who said, "I'm calling for Mr. John Hinderaker."

"Speaking," I responded, in the brusque tone I use when fielding cold calls.

The man said, "My name is James Watt."

Go read the rest of the story, and find out why Moyers' smear can no longer hold.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 7, 2005 5:03 AM

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