Broadcast Journalist, Public Official, Baptist Minister
(1934 – )
Hearing Bill Moyers described as “insightful, erudite, impassioned, brilliant,” as “a man who chooses his words carefully because he values and respects the power of language and the importance of his own integrity,” you'd never guess that he could do this while working in television.
Born in Oklahoma, Moyers grew up in Texas, where he received a journalism B.A. in 1956 from the University of Texas in Austin and then a divinity degree in 1959 from the Southwestern Theological Seminary. For most of the 1960s he alternated between working for the Peace Corps (as a director of public affairs and deputy director) and for fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson (as a personal assistant to the vice-president, then as a special assistant and press secretary to the president.)
Since then, TV has been Moyers's main focus. In 1971, following a few years as the publisher of Newsday, he began almost 35 years of producing hundreds of hours of television interviews for various series broadcast primarily on PBS. Over the years Moyers earned more than 30 Emmy awards and 10 Peabody awards for his work creating shows like A Walk Through the 20th Century, The Power of Myth (with Joseph Campbell), A World of Ideas, and Healing and the Mind. Some of these series, converted into print, also became best-selling books. He had become, a biographer wrote, “one of the few broadcast journalists who might be said to approach the stature of Edward R. Murrow.” Another called him “a gifted storyteller through words and images,” someone who “reveals to us the spiritual, emotional, and historical sides of our culture.”
In December 2004, Moyers announced his retirement from his final show, the national newsmagazine Now. Before retiring he said, “I believe democracy requires a ‘sacred contract' between journalists and those who put their trust in us to tell them what we can about how the world really works.” And, “Free and responsible government by popular consent just can't exist without an informed public.”