Bill Moyers and the State of American Journalism

For our fortieth anniversary, the editors of Rolling Stone have interviewed twenty artists and leaders who helped shape our time. Over the next four weeks, every day, we'll be debuting exclusive audio clips from the Q&As, giving you unparalleled access to some of the most important personalities in history.

Today, we present the wise words of political pundit and esteemed journalist Bill Moyers. Moyers has lived the kind of life Oliver Stone makes movies about: He was the liaison between JFK and Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1960, before serving as both LBJ's informal Chief of Staff and White House Spokesperson. After leaving politics, he became a newspaper publisher, hosted numerous TV programs and is now one of the loudest and most insightful critics of the Bush era. In a conversation with Rolling Stone's Eric Bates, Moyers discusses America's profound changes over the last forty years, Pat Robertson's stranglehold on the White House's Human Resources Dept., Fox News' support of the Iraq War and why the US will be in deep trouble in 100 years. Listen to four highlights from the sprawling conversation. But for the magazine's definitive profile, pick up a copy of our Fortieth Anniversary issue, which hits newstands this Friday.

The music wasn't the only thing better in the '60s: Moyers gauges how far life in the U.S. has gone downhill in the last forty years, even in NYC: "When I moved to New York in the Sixties, although there were lots of problems — race, a deteriorating infrastructure and so forth — the middle class thrived here. Kids who wanted to be actors could buy dollar seats or standing room only at the theaters. That doesn't happen anymore. I saw the tickets for Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia going for a thousand dollars. What aspiring young actor's going to get in there? America is really, as John Edwards said, two Americas."

Moyers explains why it pays to major in Political Science at Pat Robertson's deeply Christian Regent University: "There are 150 people right now in the executive branch who are graduates of Pat Robertson's university. No university has ever had that many at one time in the United States government, because the former Dean of Students at Regent University was named by Bush to be his manpower director."

Moyers, who won a Lifetime Emmy for contributions to journalism, gets ill talking about how the Big Red Hype Machine, i.e. Fox News and its conservative bedfellows, makes headlines by criticizing unbiased news reporters: "That's a new phenomenon that people don't fully understand. How, if a journalist tried to tell the truth about the intelligence, the Hannitys and the O'Reillys and the Limbaughs and the Savages would come down on them, slander them, discredit them, so good reporting lost its power to break through because of this avalanche of opposition and venom directed at them. What's happening to the media, it's all over the place..."

A hundred years from now, Moyers says, America will face a terrifyingly huge number. One billion people: "Our constitutional system is out of date. To think that one president can do justice to a country of a billion people, that is fluid with changed and laced with differences, is just impossible. To think that Wyoming with 500,000 people should have the same representation in the United States Senate with New York, with 15 million people or 20 million people, or California with 34 million people."

Check back tomorrow for the next installment of our twenty-part audio interviews, featuring the most iconic pop culture figures of the last 40 years. Want a sneak peak at tomorrow's interviewee? Guess who told us this:
"Apart from climate, where we are now is a walk in the park compared to the Great Depression."

Find out tomorrow, when we continue our special Fortieth Anniversary coverage.