Watch the clip, via Crooks & Liars here:
Or try reading for once! Moyers’ book and an excerpt from the interview.
Jon Stewart: Do you think journalism is in trouble because it has lost the will to exercise authority…?
Bill Moyers: I believe we’re lost in what I think Whitman or Thoreau called the mere smoke of opinion. The news is about what people want to keep hidden. Everything else is publicity. And people don’t want to keep their opinions hidden. They want to keep the facts hidden. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of effort to go and explore the facts and bring them out. So, a lot of news organizations they no longer do much reporting but simply rely on opinion, talk all of that. The other thing is we’re simply amusing ourselves to death.
JS: I’m just…gonna… go [gestures as if to abandon anchor desk]
BM: You mean you actually entertain?
JS: No, not really! [laughter]
BM: … People ask me why you’re in [my book or you were on my show]. I tell them it’s because Mark Twain is not available, and he’s not… But you people know here [at The Daily Show] that the truth goes down better in a democracy when it is marinated in humor.
You do a splendid job of juxtaposing. You don’t attack people. You put what they said ten years ago, and what they said last night. It’s journalism. It’s what good journalism is about. It’s comparative, it’s not declarative.