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The Disconnected Mind of Bill Moyers

The liberal PBS host ranted against Bush-era invasions of privacy but gives himself a pass for his own gay witch hunts under LBJ.

by
B. Daniel Blatt

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February 24, 2009 - 12:13 am
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On August 17, 2007, Bill Moyers closed Bill Moyer’s Journal, his weekly show on the taxpayer-subsidized Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), by bidding farewell to Karl Rove, a top aide to President Bush who was leaving his job as deputy chief of staff at the end of the month:

Using church pews as precincts Rove turned religion into a weapon of political combat — a battering ram, aimed at the devil’s minions, especially at gay people.

Interesting how Moyers, a former Democratic White House press secretary under Lyndon Johnson, singles out an aide to a Republican president for using gay people as political fodder. When he occupied a similar position in the White House of LBJ — a president far more eager than Rove’s employer to destroy his political opponents — Moyers did not hesitate to use sexuality as what he might call a “weapon of political combat.”

And not just political combat. Moyers even tried to find out about the sexuality of a number of aides to his Democratic boss.

When investigating the secret files of longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1975, then-acting Attorney General Laurence Silberman learned how Hoover “had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes.” Bill Moyers took advantage of that invitation to help his boss deal with a crisis which the Democrat feared could jeopardize his reelection in 1964.

In October, just a few weeks before the election, Washington, D.C. police arrested one of the president’s top aides, Walter Jenkins, catching him having sex with another man in a YMCA bathroom. “Moyers … was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater’s staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files.”

Moyers confirmed the authenticity of the memo to Silberman, concerned how he would “explain this to his children.”

Moyers didn’t just seek to use sexuality as a weapon of political combat. He even helped Johnson investigate the sexuality of another top aide to Johnson, Jack Valenti, and others in the administration. Reviewing “[p]reviously confidential FBI files,” Washington Post reporter Joe Stephens discovered that Moyers was “seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members.”

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