April 25, 2008

Disappointing Interview

After watching the Bill Moyers interview with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright tonight on PBS, I was reminded what a real gentleman Bill Moyers is. He is gracious to a fault in person and on the air.

Reverend Wright, you’ll remember, is the black minister whose “damning” of America from the pulpit several weeks ago caught media attention, particularly because Wright is the pastor of Senator Barak Obama’s home church in Chicago.

The hour-long interview on Bill Moyers Journal demonstrated what we all should have known anyway, that Reverend Wright – like all of us – is more complex than can be reflected in a 30-second sound bite.

Nonetheless, I was sorely disappointed tonight by the lack of incisive questioning from Bill Moyers. Not so much over Wright’s “damning” of America statement, but his vitriolic statements about an unfeeling America that has killed innocent people in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

That innocents died – on both sides in these wars – is undeniable. That our troops, our government, and our nation did so as a matter of policy and with no feeling is blatantly untrue. Why did Bill Moyers not challenge Reverend Wright on this point?

Reverend Wright’s snipped comment about God “damning” America made national news, and Senator Obama promptly distanced himself from his old pastor. How, Moyers asked, did Reverend Wright feel about that?

In fresh candor, Reverend Wright acknowledged that Senator Obama is “a politician” and must say to his audience what is necessary; and as a pastor, he (Reverend Wright) must say to his audience what is necessary. Wright speaks at the National Press Club next week. I think I smell a book in the writing.

How unfortunate that Bill Moyers did not do what HIS audience expected: ask insightful questions and challenge the guest. Instead, it was kind of a “good ol’ pastors discussion down at the seminary.” Giving Reverend Wright 60 minutes to paint his own portrait on C-SPAN would have been equally revealing.

Bill Moyers has done some great interviews. This was not one of them.


seaturtle said...

I, too, was most disappointed by the Wright interview. Mr. Moyers, who can be tough enough when criticizing Bush, (and not w.o. some good reasons) absolutely molly-coddled Rev. Wright. Indeed, he almost seemed in awe of him.

First of all, what we were shown on the show of Wright's sermons were hardly 10 second sound-bites. Each was a few minutes long. Wright absolutely and vitriolically shouted "God damn America". In the interview, he tried to explain it away by saying that governments should not be equated with God, and followed blindly. Well, Wright did not damn any one administration; he damned AMERICA! He goes back to slavery and the Indians, and says that such things do not appear in textbooks. Just how long ago did Wright go to school? Yet, when Moyers momentarily showed a bit of backbone and called Wright's friend, Lewis Farrakhan's anti-Semitism "inexcusable", he let Wright say unchallenged , and completely inaccurately, that that was 20 years ago, and that Farrakhan had gotten people off drugs. What does one thing have to do with the other? Hitler built the Audubon and loved Art.

Wright called 9/11 "chickens coming home to roost". I suggest he put out some chicken feed for the legitimate critical roosting due him

Black Hills Monitor said...

My point was that the Moyers interview was long enough to show the multi-dimensional personality of Reverend Wright, which couldn't be revealed in shorter video clips (as done by the media elsewhere).

But even the longer clips reflected radical and wrong-headed views by Reverend Wright -- even beyond his damning of America.

I, too, thought the "coming home to roost" analogy was over the top and should have been challenged by Moyers.

I am a Moyers fan, but I was disappointed in the softball questions delivered to Reverend Wright. I thought that when Moyers gave his disclaimer about his similar church experience with Reverend Wright, that we might benefit from some incisive and forthright questioning. I was wrong.