Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War

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9 p.m., Friday, April 27
KCET, Los Angeles


Bill Moyers' telecareer has been essentially esoteric, though on Friday night he begins a PBS series that might be very opposite, "Bill Moyers Journal." A clue is an advance premiere tonight of a very powerful 90-minute study, "Buying the War."

It's one of the most solid perspectives on this nasty war in Iraq, though it's mostly on the so-called run-up to the war. With the precision of Moyers' hard-eyed questioning, it's hard to dismiss this as just another barrage on the Bush administration.

Anniversaries on this chaotic war keep occurring, and the timing this time occurs Tuesday on the fourth year of President Bush's declaration in his flight suit of "Mission Accomplished." The "buying" of the title is not that giant corporations are making money on the action but that, asserts Moyer and producer Kathleen Hughes, it's how the media "bought" the administration's torrents of claims that the war was imperative.

As yet, Moyers says, "The press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses." There's no ambiguity here.

Many reporters followed the "official line," without demanding any proofs.

Sometimes it was out of "fear" of "the slam machine" by conservative media, says Dan Rather. One cable executive referred to the "political police." Fox News' Bill O'Reilly insists that "I will call those who publicly criticize their country in a time of military crisis ... bad Americans." Moyers sees a technique of the administration as "a circular, self-confirming leak," wherein a high official plants a major leak, true or not, and then spokespeople flood the TV interview shows on Sunday and point to that article and in effect confirm it.

There are a lot of devastating segments, one particularly on Secretary of State Colin Powell on his historic U.N. speech on Saddam Hussein's dastardly intentions -- and then balanced against how distant Powell's remarks were from reasonable truth.
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