Moyers on Democracy

By Moyers on Democracy

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Bill Moyers and others from our team in conversation with writers, academics, activists and other big thinkers about the issues of vital concern to our democracy.

Episode Date
Bill Moyers talks with Rebecca Gordon about the Fourth of July
Bill Moyers talks with Rebecca Gordon about the Fourth of July
Jul 03, 2020
Trump’s Grotesque Tulsa Speech and the Cult of Trump | Bill Moyers Talks with Jeff Sharlet
Bill Moyers talks with Jeff Sharlet about why some Christians call Donald Trump “the Wolf King” and think Democrats are cannibals (We are not making this up!)
Jun 25, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Rev. Dr. James Forbes About Juneteenth & America After George Floyd
Bill Moyers talks with Rev. Dr. James Forbes by Moyers on Democracy
Jun 18, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Rev. Dr. James Forbes
Bill Moyers talks with Rev. Dr. James Forbes about Juneteenth, America's other Independence Day and the country after George Floyd.
Jun 17, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Peter Nelson about his film The Pollinators
You only need to see this film if you eat food. The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.
Jun 15, 2020
Bill Moyers and David Daley on Stealing the Vote
I think that there is a big connection between down and dirty politics, and where we go from here. We have to be careful that in this moment, a public health crisis, doesn't also turn into a full blown constitutional crisis. And there's lots of evidence that it may well turn in that direction. Bill Moyers and David Daley on voter suppression.
Apr 08, 2020
Neil Barofsky and Bill Moyers on Bailouts
Neil Barofsky was TARP’s chief inspector general, its top cop, with a mandate to flush out waste, fraud and abuse, now he talks with Bill Moyers about the CARES act.
Apr 01, 2020
Bill Moyers and Dahlia Lithwick on the Rule of Law
As the coronavirus stalks America, Dahlia Lithwick talks with Bill Moyers about the rule of law and politics. Lithwick is a Supreme Court watcher, senior editor at, and a contributing editor for Newsweek. She’s been honored as one of the country’s best legal commentators.
Mar 23, 2020
Bill Moyers and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Conversation
Bill Moyers and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Conversation by Moyers on Democracy
Mar 06, 2020
Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back?
This being the Trump era, we find ourselves once again engulfed in two realities. There’s the reality of a spiraling global challenge from coronavirus, and there’s the ALTERNATE reality created by the president and his political and propaganda empire. They are spreading a virus of their own, lulling true believers into complacent ignorance with lies and misinformation. In this conversation, Bill Moyers talks with psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton about the dueling realities in today's America.
Mar 04, 2020
Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich: What Does it Mean to be an American After the Cold War?
Bill Moyers goes behind the headlines to talk with Andrew Bacevich about democracy and how to navigate a post Cold War world.
Jan 15, 2020
Bill Moyers: Campaign Finance Reform — It's Not Just Liberals Anymore
When I first met Richard Painter some months ago, I thought he must be the loneliest man in the Republican Party. He’s a conservative, and of course, I’m not. But he believes, as I do, that there’s too much money in politics. Now, political insiders know Richard Painter well as President George W. Bush’s White House counselor and chief ethical advisor. He’s now teaching law at the University of Minnesota, and he’s causing heads to turn with a book advocating that we reduce the power of big money in politics. Its title is Taxation Only With Representation: The Conservative Conscience and Campaign Finance Reform. There’s a lot to learn from it, and I urge you to read it, because it is rare today to find a conservative who will admit, as Mr. Painter does, that money corrupts politics and then makes his case with so much passion and logic. His book is also timely because the issue has reached a boiling point this year. Thousands of people descended on Washington just last week in a movement they call Democracy Spring, deliberately getting arrested to protest for cleaner politics and for government liberated from Big Money. Every poll I’ve consulted reveals a deep and substantial support in the country for those objectives. Most Americans seem to agree that rich people should be able to buy more houses than anyone else, buy more cars and more clothes and more gizmos, even take more vacations than any one else, but we don’t think they should be able to buy more democracy than anyone else. Richard Painter joins me now to talk about how to rein in the power of big money in politics so that we are indeed, as his book suggests, government of, by, and for the people.
Apr 20, 2016
Trevor Potter: Happy Campaign Finance Warrior
This month, Washington will play host to what organizers are predicting will be a massive acts of civil disobedience as protesters—some of whom began a long march towards the nation’s capital from Philadelphia last weekend—make the case for campaign finance reform, voting rights protections and the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. As they do, Bill Moyers & Company will be reaching out to a range of experts on these issues, some of whom are marching and some of whom are not, to ask what they think it will take to effect real change. Trevor Potter has been working on campaign finance issues since 1985, when he joined the staff of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. A frequent guest on Bill Moyers programs, he has served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission and advised Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the drafting of the last major campaign finance reform legislation, the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Most famously, Potter served as Stephen Colbert’s lawyer in an elaborate sendup of super PACs that the satirist conducted during the last presidential campaign cycle.
Apr 06, 2016
Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman: "The System Is Rigged Against Regular People"
Few are as qualified to tackle the massive topic of money in politics as Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman. Their new book, Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy, is a comprehensive and important examination of the many ways our lives are affected by the stranglehold corporations have on our government and society. And it’s a look at how we can fight back. Wendell Potter is senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, an ex-newspaperman and a former executive with the health insurance industry who dared to come in from the cold and become one of our most knowledgeable and forthright champions of health care reform. Regulars here at will remember his 2009 appearance on Bill Moyers Journal, when he first told his remarkable story Nick Penniman, a former journalist, was co-founder and director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, publisher of Washington Monthly and founder of the American News Project. He is executive director of Issue One, a bipartisan group working to reduce the influence of money in politics and to put everyday citizens back in control of our country.
Mar 18, 2016
Robert P. Jones on Donald Trump's Voters
Many people on both the left and the right are scratching their heads, trying to understand the puzzling appeal of Donald Trump to his supporters. For Dr. Robert Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, (PRRI) it’s no mystery — it’s a matter of understanding the role that religion, culture, and the economy play in shaping the landscape of American politics. Every year, PRRI conducts the American Values Survey, pulling together the opinions of some 2700 Americans on the economy, racial discrimination, trust in public institutions, religious and political attitudes and other topics. The survey this year painted a picture of an electorate that is worried about the country’s future, anxious about cultural change and concerned about economic inequality. Among some segments of the electorate there is a strong sense of nostalgia for the past. Enter Donald Trump, promising to “Make America Great Again.” We called Dr. Jones after the Mississippi, Michigan and Hawaii primaries on March 8 to help us understand why Donald Trump’s and even Bernie Sanders’s “surprise” victories were not so surprising after all. Dr. Jones holds a Ph.D. in religion from Emory University, where he specialized in sociology of religion, politics and religious ethics. He earned an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He writes a column for The Atlantic’s website on politics and culture and has a book coming out in July titled The End of White Christian America.
Mar 12, 2016
Naomi Klein on Our Hotter, Meaner Future, and How to Avoid It
Moyers & Company's Michael Winship writes: A week and a half ago, just as a blizzard was barreling up the East Coast, I traveled to my hometown, Canandaigua, NY, and before a standing-room-only audience of more than 400 at Finger Lakes Community College, had a conversation with author and climate activist Naomi Klein. Our talk was part of the George M. Ewing Forum, named in honor of the late editor and publisher of our local newspaper. He was a worldly and informed man, dedicated to good talk and a lively exchange of ideas. The forum brings to town a variety of speakers each year, some of them from the area, others not. The Finger Lakes region is a beautiful part of the country. As has often been said, it runs on water, and as I grew up, there was an increasing realization that what we have is an invaluable natural resource we could be in danger of losing. Over the years, the threats have grown ever more complex with greater hazards revealed as pollution and development have encroached on the landscape. As a result, much of our audience was composed of environmentalists and concerned citizens, including a contingent from We Are Seneca Lake, the grass roots campaign fighting against the use of crumbling salt mines under the hillsides to store fracked natural gas and liquefied petroleum gases. (One of its leaders is biologist, mother and Moyers & Company guest Sandra Steingraber.) The conversation with Naomi Klein was billed as “Capitalism vs. The Climate: Reflections on the 2015 UN Climate Conference,” and while we certainly spoke a great deal about that recent climate agreement in Paris, our talk ranged more widely as we discussed her life and work, politics, the continuing right-wing denial of global warming, and the climate justice movement. Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She’s a member of the board of directors for, the global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Among many other honors, in 2015 she received The Izzy Award – named after the great writer and editor IF Stone -- celebrating outstanding achievement in independent journalism and media. Klein's most recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, was shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards in the nonfiction category. A documentary based on the book, directed by Avi Lewis, was released last fall. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Feb 03, 2016
The Children’s Climate Crusade
The very agencies created to protect our environment have been hijacked by the polluting industries they were meant to regulate. It may just turn out that the judicial system, our children and their children will save us from ourselves. The new legal framework for this crusade against global warming is called atmospheric trust litigation. It takes the fate of the Earth into the courts, arguing that the planet’s atmosphere – its air, water, land, plants and animals — are the responsibility of government, held in its trust to insure the survival of all generations to come. It’s the strategy being used by Bill’s recent guest, Kelsey Juliana, a co-plaintiff in a major lawsuit spearheaded by Our Children’s Trust, that could force the state of Oregon to take a more aggressive stance against the carbon emissions. It’s the brainchild of Mary Christina Wood, a legal scholar who wrote the book, Nature’s Trust, tracing this public trust doctrine all the way back to ancient Rome. Wood tells Bill: “If this nation relies on a stable climate system, and the very habitability of this nation and all of the liberties of young people and their survival interests are at stake, the courts need to force the agencies and the legislatures to simply do their job.”
Dec 23, 2014