Thank You Bill!

The best news of the week and of many weeks is that Bill Moyers has returned to PBS. I have felt this void in television news coverage ever since he left Now with Bill Moyers. Now, he is back, perhaps sensing that the world of television journalism needs him significantly. Tonight, his show explained the exact reason why the world needs Bill Moyers. By in large, television journalism, particularly the cable news shows, are reduced to pundits yelling at each other with scripted sound-byte phrases; or, the appropriate adminstration officials or politicians make statements from their own highly politicized points of view. This is what substitutes for actual investigative journalism these days. At least, that is what it is at the top levels. It is what sells and buys advertising space. It is catchy and shocking, but it doesn’t inform anyone about what is really going on the world. I have been so disgusted with all of this that I haven’t been able to watch television news channels at all. No thank you. It is NPR on the drive to and from work, and that is about it (Although, Bill also pointed out that there was some great investigative journalism done by Knight Ridder journalists and other less-marquee journalism outlets). Thank you Bill, for coming back. America needs you. America needs you to take it to those obnoxious youthful pundits. Eat it Peter Beinart! Bill Moyers just made you look like an obnoxious, whining teenager.

I think this is why I love research so much. It is such an undervalued skill these days. People think that the use of language can actually mask for substance. I see that in the courtroom every day. People just want to be heard and have their argument heard, who cares whether it is right or wrong in an objective sense, or supported by the weight of evidence. I just want to be one of those people who is obsessed with understanding and attempting to get to the truth of things, rather than trying to figure out catchy ways to persuade others to come to my point of view. For a long time, I wanted to be right, now, I think I just want to understand.

Bill made me think about some things that I have avoided thinking about too deeply about what is going on in Iraq. Frankly, I didn’t support the war. I thought we were going to war for completely artificial reasons. But since we have taken away any sense of stability for most people living in that country, I have been devastated over what our obligation is now. It seems wrong to me to just pull out and leave a country in chaos, a chaos that our presidential adminstration wilfully created. Yet, I feel horribly for the members of our armed forces that are continuning to toil there, risking their lives for something that didn’t make sense, but doing their best to try to bring some sense of security to the lives of the Iraqi people. What do we do? We created this terrible problem. Now, what I think we need is a leader with more humility and less pride. We need someone who can step up to the plate and tell the world that the USA is sorry for what we did. It wasn’t right. And now that we are there, we need to know what the Iraqi people think that we should do to make it right. Then, we should do it. It is what we owe those people. It is what we owe the world. We need to get serious about regaining some international credibility. Is that a sign of weakness? Well, I guess that all depends on your definition of strength. I think that it takes a much stronger person to admit that they were wrong then the ease of maintaining the status quo and continuing to make excuses.

Once again Bill, thank you for forcing me to think again.

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