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Analysis: NOW With(out) Bill Moyers - The FTAA Special

You want my early judgement?
Bill Moyers pulled completely out of the FTAA
special and may have quit the network entirely
over editorial disagreements about how tonite's
"NOW With Bill Moyers" was going to be aired.
As I'm sure you're aware, tonite's FTAA special on
PBS was supposed to air last Friday nite.

It did not.

No one had an explanation and network geeks were NOT
talking. Now suddenly a week later there is a show
but a very short one, and it appears to be the Chief
John Timoney hour. His chance to state his case
using Public television as his pawn, while running
his silver tongued mouth being even so brazen as
to say that "those anarchists" are going to try
and spin even PBS toward THEIR side of the story.

No one will disagree that Timoney is the cleverest
of the clever. He's also controlling, fascist, out
of control himself and even frothing at the mouth
at times. You can hear it when his lilt goes away
and his lip starts to quiver a bit. He's in total
control outside, but JeckleHyde-out-of-control
inside and looking almost like he's going to burst.

At any rate, I didn't want this to be merely a
scathing attack at the Chief Timoney administration
of world government.

So let me level the balance of my venom on PBS
corporation. There were a few moments there where
the slant moved a little bit away from Timoney's
side of the story, but it kept reverting back to
that. And let me tell you, Bill Moyers was 100%
absent from this show. His likeness showed up once
as the show was announced, of course it's still
called, "NOW With Bill Moyers." And that's where
it stopped. The last moment you saw Bill Moyers
at all.

I wonder out loud right here and now, whether there
was other footage we did not see. I highly doubt
Moyers would have put together months of effort
and then never once said something on the screen,
not an intro, an outtro, or even a voiceover. Not
a word.

I hope we find out soon. I think overall tonite's
episode of "NOW With Bill Moyers" was highly damaging
to the social justice movement. It surely wasn't
asking any hardball questions. And it reeked of over
a week's worth of direct government censorship if
you ask me.

Anyone else share my suspicions?

Or disagree?

Let's hear it.
What do you think?



why? 27.Feb.2004 19:38


Why not wait until those of us on the west coast have a chance to see it ourselves before pontificating, eh? Are you one of those kinds of people who loves to spoil the ending of stories by spilling everything to people who haven't read or seen them already?

I don't know... 27.Feb.2004 20:57


As I mentioned on another thread, John Timoney came across as a paranoid maniac on NOW. PERIOD. In one amazing and telling moment, he even accused NOW's reporter of being part of some kind of conspiracy. I don't think this story was damaging to the Social Justice Movement at all. They very wisely let the footage speak for itself, and it's pretty damning of the FL cops. They show reporters, the elderly, and other non-violent protesters being beaten, shot at, and manhandled for no reason whatsoever. And through it all, Timoney simply praises the violence. To any undecided viewer with an open mind, this has the potential to sway opinion.

I regret that Moyers isn't going to be with the show past November, but I'm grateful his having established the one decent decidedly progressive news show on mainstream television. I wish there were others like it on TV so we could get a little friendly competition going.

pretty hot stuff for corpy tv 27.Feb.2004 21:27

cousin it

Timony did indeed come off as a wacko-i was yelling "nazi freak" at the tv in a matter of seconds not that it did any good. Florida-what a wonderful state;all this and slavery too

Report was really dissapointing 27.Feb.2004 21:38


I just watched the show after hearing it hyped up today, and I have to say it was pretty damn weak. There was so much footage they could have shown to absolutely condemn the police for their actions, and they didn't play anything.

"They very wisely let the footage speak for itself, and it's pretty damning of the FL cops. They show reporters, the elderly, and other non-violent protesters being beaten, shot at, and manhandled for no reason whatsoever."

What footage? All they showed was the cops beating their batons, non-violently arresting a couple people, and the thing with the pro-FTAA reporter. They mentioned nothing about the beatings and torture in jail, they showed no footage of police storming the protesters, and they gave no accounts of all of the incidents of mass violence and arrests carried out while people were attempting to disperse!
I don't know why the story would even be broadcast if that was the kind of investigative journalism they were planning to do. I've heard a lot of good things about that show, but after this, I can see it's just another watered down mouthpiece for the typical government line.

Gimme some facts Jack 27.Feb.2004 22:12

info it

"Anyone else share my suspicions?"

Well I'm game, but, I saw no evidence of what you speak of inre to Moyers.
Are these just your suspicions or do you have any real info to prove Moyers was steamed? Or do you have any info on this stories genesis, and the process it went through to shorten it?

Police brutality 27.Feb.2004 22:13


I appreciate the forewarning of this feature. Moyers' absence is suspicious in that there could have been disagreement on what was shown. There was too much on Chief Timoney, but perhaps they wanted to show both sides to appear neutral. The Chief praised his officers for the brutality they did, and showed he is a real threat to America.

Clearly, the majority of protesters, including the elderly were menaced by the super abundance of riot police. Journalists wore gas masks to cover the event. Anarchists were in "small" numbers. It showed their trying to dismantle the fence erected near the ministerial meeting building location. Don't we all get incensed over being fenced out from free speech?

The majority of marchers were peaceful, such as union people. The AFL-CIO has presented a charge against the City of Miami, but it is doubtful the Justice Dept. will hear the case (it was said). How bad were the riot police? Terrible. A woman was kneeling in prayer in front of a row of them, and she was shot in the shoulder. They continued shooting at her as she tried to crawl away. Another was shot in the face which required extensive medical treatment. The bean bag bullet came close to his eye, and could have cost him his life--only inches away in a different direction would have done it. A person's blood specs were shown on a camera lens.

What has happened to dissent in America is abominable. People were stopped from getting into the main protest hall by police, arm-in-arm. When it was announced this was happening, people chanted, "Let them in." Riot police came into the back of the hall, uninvited. They presented a formidible, intimidating force. An 80-yr. old vet, whose return bus was taken away, was trying to get out. Instead, he was told to get down. He went to his knees immediately, only to be thrust in the back to the ground, arrested, and held for 24 hours.

In conclusion, the vet said, this is not homeland security. This is homeland suppression. If there was censorship of the feature, and there probably was, I can only imagine how much more brutal the riot police were.

How can we voice dissent today? We need millions of people to rise up into the streets, and take our country back.

disagree with marco 27.Feb.2004 22:59


Just finished watching. Thought it was extremely damning against Miami police, Timoney in particular. As someone who followed the whole business in Miami, I thought it was quite well done (even *I* learned something new in this show!) Granted, I haven't watched all the video footage, and some have been arguing with me that they could have used more or better footage to make the point. Nonetheless, I think the point comes across pretty clearly: the Miami police used gigantic overkill, and attacked large numbers of people indiscriminately with dangerous weaponry.

The Timoney interviews, as someone said, allow Timoney to dig a hole for himself. Some people have argued with me that they gave him too much time. I don't think so. I think they gave him the rope, and he hanged himself with it. He comes off looking extremely paranoid, and dismissive of all the substantive complaints people made, without offering a credible defense.

Marco, I'm dubious about this business of Moyers being frozen out of the show. He is in the middle of retiring afterall. Isn't it plausible that he just chose not to appear personally in this one?

I think there might be a danger, for those who have seen large amounts of FTAA footage, to disparage this effort and imagine that it somehow pulls punches. Perhaps. But given the fact that it was operating under time constraints, I think they picked footage that would make the point pretty clearly. They showed the senior citizen on the ground getting arrested for no reason at all outside the stadium and held for 12 hours with bizarre charges that bore no relation to reality. They showed the young woman sitting in the lotus position, praying, being taken away moments later covered in blood from a head wound after being shot point blank. They showed the cameraman getting shot, covered in blood, while he was crouching behind a planter with other journalists.

They brought out an interesting piece of information which, as I said, I had heard nowhere else, that the police themselves issued briefing papers on their operations which consisted of blatant cheerleading in favor of FTAA, which they had been coached on by one of the directors of the conference. Thus, they were not neutral on the FTAA itself, but were out-and-out boosters, and thus viewed anyone with differing opinions as suspects and potential police targets.

Any video available? 28.Feb.2004 04:51


Doesn't anyone of you guys have any pice of video of the show to upload here, so that everyone who's outside US can find out what this show was about?
It's nice following the conversation, but there's a need to see on one's own sometimes what it is all about..


criticism definitely required 28.Feb.2004 09:02


I love Bill Moyers. He's the ONLY voice on corporate media I would say that about. And, I'm happy that his show touched on this issue. And yes, I think there were some very important points brought to the American masses. I even agree that Timoney came off looking like a demented ass, and I loved the way the older protesters were given a voice. (That's something even alternative media forgets to show from time to time.)

But, true to the corporate roots of PBS, there was also an eggregious flaw. The segment portrayed the same, tried-and-true "good vs bad protesters" crap that's always a part of every corporate story about dissent. Anarchists were repeatedly equated with "violent troublemakers," and "violence" was illustrated by such scary acts as people trying to tear down a fence in one place, and trying to erect a barrier against the police in another place.

Oooo. I was terrified at the thought that some of those black-clad protesters might actually get inside the barricade and tell their stories. And I was trembling at the thought that they might be able to prevent the police from advancing on them with that flaming, makeshift barrier. Violent troublemakers indeed.

As long as we're willing to buy the line that docile, passive sheep protesters are acceptable, and people taking action against the machine are not, we're sitting targets. This is a tool of corporate media: the creation of an all-knowing "mainstream" that we need to please, and the laying down of rules that will be acceptable to this imaginary mainstream. Don't buy it.

Hmmmm. 28.Feb.2004 09:24

Salmon Girl

Hey, Marco. I thought that they did a pretty decent job of illustrating the issue in, what was it, 20-30 minutes? I noticed Timoney wasn't on screen until about 13 minutes into the program. I agree with other people here; he really hung himself. He came across as a grossly paranoid, small-town bully who somehow came to a job he should never have been given in the first place. When he accused objective observers as being "part of the conspiracy", I would argue that he alienated people who might otherwise have tended to agree with him. Did you notice the way he was obviously cut off?

Of course, the whole thing was more canted to the mainstream than many of us may have liked, but that's ok. The mainstream is part of who we need to reach. Some of the images were incredibly powerful, and will speak hugely to middle America. The grandfatherly gentleman, talking about being shoved down and handcuffed. The reporter with his blood splattered on his own camera. The dignified union organizer. The family (with a teenager!) getting put down to the ground by a paramilitary-looking cop with a big gun. The expressions of fear and confusion on their faces were as eloquent as any spoken argument could be.

Mainstream Media vs. Indy 28.Feb.2004 13:54


Indy media, from what i gather is planning on picking up on cable access. This has the potential for greatness. A show that analizes and critiques mainstream media, and fills in gaps with indy footage and interviews. A show open to the public for debate by phone, street interview, guests, ect. Also it would be televised several times a week (i missed the PBS broadcast) and reach the public in their own living rooms, flipping through the channels. A good dose of honesty and involvement into the lives of people who are under the influence of mainline media. Manipulate the media before it manipulates you. viva indy!

The most important issue 28.Feb.2004 13:55


One of the most important issues was brought up by the local Miami ACLU president - that the police had been showing POWER POINT PRESENTATIONS PROMOTING THE FTAA prior to the event with the selling point that tens of thousands of jobs would rain down on Miami, which could become the hub of FTAAland.

This is really the most horrific part (any coppies reading, take note). When the police get used in this way there is something really wrong with the whole system. It's scary to see what's happening to Miami under Jeb Bush - when will the people revolt there? Maybe this is just the start. But I think we need to keep an eye on this in other demonstrations.

Upcoming is the RNC - how many NYC cops will be promoting their own party with powerpoint presentations ahead of the crackdown? Already that has been declared a NATIONAL SECURITY EVENT. And they are relinquishing - Penn Station, which serves 600,00 will be allowed to remain open (bless their kind hearts . . .).

All out for the RNC!!!!!!!!!!!!! We need to move the ENTIRE WEST COAST to NYC for that event and expose the police state that the US has become.

Get the feeling that Moyers was tied to a chair 28.Feb.2004 18:15

anne frank

in the back, duct tape over his mouth. I watched NOW on the advice of indymedia posters, after not having seen it for a few months. What a difference!

OPB president Maynard Orme said last year that Moyers would be allowed to do NOW until he retired, and then the show would be stopped. And that's what's we see happening.

The corporations have co-opted PBS completely. The Board of Directors is peopled by fundamentalist ideologues. This show still had a bit of anedge to it, with the FTAA police riot story(cautioning us to beware of the anarchists, for even one can just ruin a demonstration) , which was followed by a sorry tale about Mr. Ruiz(say that Reese), who is a big Bush fundraiser in California and hires nice Latinos in this frozen foods factory. Then Paul Gigot, that shill of a Wall Street journal commentator and gadfly for the neocons, giggled with David Broncaccio for a half an hour. Hoo Humm...glad I turned off the tube two years ago. TV is poisonous, you know.

Who brought this here? 29.Feb.2004 02:19

Migratory Bird

A good friend of mine once nearly started crying to see a corporate newspaper in the indymedia center. After a week of being chased on blind alleyways, cornered, beaten gassed, harrassed, illegally arrested, when it was almost over, the delegates were going back to their coutries and then citizens of ours were gathered around the splintered picnic benches eating food not bombs, my friend looked down to see A CORpIRATE Newspaper in our news office.

All of the lives dedicated, all the mumias, all the peltiers, the Chavez, the mandelas, could be heard in his voice when he asked


Soon the helicopters would be hazing the news center at night, their spotlight picking off anyone who tried to go home to sleep, rounding them up for jail, rounding them up for beatings, false arrests etc.

He picked up the paper put it in the recycling, and poured water on it.

I pulled it out and read my horoscope. I stuffed it back in.

Somehow that moment became indeliably printed into my memory. And I hear it echoing in me everytime I read this article. I did not watch the special. I would have wept. We begged them to cover it months back. When it happened they embedded reporters and refused to cover it.

Then after they raped us, after they shot out peoples eyes, beat us sensless, tazered us, infiltrated us:

PBS answers with this lack of journalism. And I am sick to my soul. I am horrified. I live with the nightmares, and they play us carcitaures.

After the deaths, the beatings and rapes, these are the ashes they have handed back to indymedia in an Urn. Here you go you peace of shit independent non embedded journalists, HERE'S what you can do with your free speech.

My question is why do we keep quoting them and not my friend?

NOW 1, Timoney a big fat zero 29.Feb.2004 21:22


Just watched it on tape, and it's about as good a reversal of corporate media spin as you can get from the corporate media (except if one of your reporters gets attacked/arrested by the police, like KPTV 12 or the Miami New Times).

Richard Trumka (the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer) and the four people attacked by the police (the young woman shot in the shoulder, the filmmaker shot in the face, the elderly Korean War veteran arrested and held in custody nearly 24 hours, and the New Times reporter arrested) were exemplary, and the video eloquently told their side of the story. I could hear the reporter mocking the police reports that said the New Times reporter was in the crowd throwing rocks, and footage of the filmmaker getting shot and his blood dripping over the camera lens speaks for itself.

On the other hand, Miami Police Chief John Timoney went into Principal Skinner Land, when you tell increasingly more outrageous distortions of the truth just so you don't stray from your message one iota. Like dailygrind and gb stated, Timoney might have hung himself with the rope the reporter gave him; his answers to the reporter's questions became more ridiculous as the interview went on, and at one point, she tried hard to keep from busting out laughing at him.

This program isn't directed at the IndyMedia crowd; it's directed at the typical PBS viewer. Yeah, they're the Starbucks-drinking, Volvo-driving, Katz-supporting bourgie liberals. But what happens when these people realize they've been lied to? What happens when other people realize they've been lied to? That's when you get other people on your side, and most importantly, OFF the NewSpeak of the Oregonian, Fox News Network, and other apologists for police terrorism.

how liberal 01.Mar.2004 06:02

It's true that pbs is essentially abcnnbcbs-lite (the show in question is funded by foundations). But that just means they represent the ALTERNATIVE(tm) view. Publicly funded is a bit of a euphemism for "we get legitimacy from the public" - not so unlike how an indy record label legitimizes the larger recording or distribution companies they serve. Recall the wingnut view of reality: the media's a bunch o'liberals anyways. What should guide our view is timing. For example, I _would_ be surprised if they _didn't_ start airing Stuffing now about the so-called anti-globalization movement, and even indymedia - the effect on the public will have been greatly diminished over time with the masses' attention deficit. Much of the parade has been rained on with the bombs of war as well as the endemic general lack of information and reporting.
But an interesting event occurs when a story still has to be misrepresented or not represented. It means there is still the potential for that story to influence the viewer. The producers are still too scared to run our stories. We can debate this. But we should be aware that either we continue to support independent media vigilantly &/or resist.
This is who we are, take it or leave it. Reforming mass media is just a pollution control stopgap that will lead to more mass media channels.
ps love this portland indy site!

Gigot worse 01.Mar.2004 06:18

DLF duane@wt.net

I agree with those saying Timoney was a fool and clearly so. There was enough in this segment for people to get it.

I found the interview with Paul Gigot much more disturbing. First of all, why is he there in the first place? If it's to see what the other side is thinking, fine, let's throw some hardballs. Instead, he is allowed to articulate his conservative opinions one by one without challenge by Broncaccio. On gay marriage, Gigot takes the standard line that "judges shouldn't decide this, it should be democratically decided." Where's the followup? Well, Mr Gigot, banning gay marriage is discrimination. Does that mean, if a state wants to democratically ban (redhaired people from public schools, etc) that's ok?

Or, touching on Greenspan's statement on reducing social security. Gigot states that "social security is a pay-as-you-go system," so of course it's going to have to be reduced (through simple mathematics). This slips by unquestioned. This guy is an editor at the Wall Street Journal and he _believes_ ?? that social security was designed to be pay as you go?

Why was this guest on the program? And why did Broncaccio give him a pass?

NOW program is on-line... 01.Mar.2004 16:52

indy volunteer

in case you missed the NOW segment, you can download a copy of it here:


. 01.Mar.2004 17:11


"This program isn't directed at the IndyMedia crowd; it's directed at the typical PBS viewer. Yeah, they're the Starbucks-drinking, Volvo-driving, Katz-supporting bourgie liberals. But what happens when these people realize they've been lied to?"


The bourgie liberals will never do anything. They are coddled, well to do, weak-minded, pathetic purveyors of the status quo.

There is no point whatsoever to reach out to these people. They are and always will be useless. They are part of the problem, not the solution.

Plain old working class people are the folks to reach out to. They have some understanding of life.