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On Trashing Bill Moyers

November 14, 1987

"The Secret Government" was the very best of Moyers.

Unfortunately, Rosenberg reviewed the program as an entertainment, but it was not intended to be entertainment. It was the deeply felt expression of dismay and concern about the realities of U.S. foreign policy.

In harping on lying and giving five trivial and irrelevant examples of TV lying, Rosenberg stresses a point of secondary importance.

Sure, lying can be and usually is an ingredient of secret government actions. Of primary importance, however, is not the disclosure of lying but the reprehensible nature of the activities themselves, namely, the overthrow of relatively popular and democratic governments and the installation of totalitarian regimes.

As Rosenberg pointed out, "The Secret Government" is a personal statement and thus need not have been balanced. But his contention that it made no stab at being balanced needs comment. As far as lying is concerned, what kind of balance should we expect?

We see Reagan lying and we are given the truth. We see North, Poindexter and Abrams admitting that they lied.

"Balance" here, as elsewhere in the program, would simply have amounted to various Pat Buchanans seeking to justify the proposition that, when it comes to fighting communism, the end justifies the means.

What was unique about this documentary was the absence of the usual burden of alarmist garbage and weasel-wording that we have come to expect on TV programs about U.S. foreign policy.

Contrary to what Rosenberg wrote, we are indeed hearing from Moyers about the "mind-set, the paranoia and secrecy" that apparently comes with the Oval Office.

Basically that's what the whole program was about.



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