Big money and big media have coupled to create a ‘Disney World’ of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, resulting in a public less informed than it should be, says Marty Kaplan, director of USC’s Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran. In this encore broadcast, Bill Moyers talks with Kaplan about how taking news out of the journalism box and placing it in the entertainment box is hurting democracy and allowing special interest groups to manipulate the system.
Later on the show, Bill talks about Florida Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and shocking modern-day McCarthyism. Wasn’t this lesson already learned?
MARTY KAPLAN: It's all about combat. If every political issue is the combat between two polarized sides, then you get great television because people are throwing food at each other. And you have an audience that hasn't a clue, at the end of the story, which is why you'll hear, "Well, we'll have to leave it there." Well, thank you very much. Leave it there.
BILL MOYERS: And how the ghost of Joe McCarthy is back to haunt America.
SENATOR JOSEPH McCARTHY: They shouldn’t be called Democrats, they should be referred to properly as the Commiecrat Party.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome. How about this: enterprising and intrepid journalism students at Kent State University in Ohio took up our challenge to go to nearby television stations, collect data on the political ads they run and post that information on the Internet. It’s supposed to be public information in the first place.
KENT STATE STUDENT: We had one simple question for management at each station. Should these records be put on line? Three stations refused to be interviewed.
BILL MOYERS: Take a look at the complete Kent State video at our website, BillMoyers.com. We’re counting on other journalism students around the country – and maybe you as well – to follow their example and share the results with us. Meanwhile, on with the show, because as you can see, sometimes the truth reveals itself in the darnedest places. In an old movie, for example – one you saw some years ago, forgot, and then, by chance, happen on it again to discover that times have changed, and movies, too. But certain things never change: they just cost more.
Here’s what I mean: remember Eddie Murphy twenty years ago in The Distinguished Gentleman? That’s the term by which members of Congress address each other, no matter how disreputable their conduct.