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 Dr. Bandy Lee About THE DANGEROUS CASE OF DONALD TRUMP
Bill Moyers talks with Dr. Bandy Lee, editor of THE DANGEROUS CASE OF DONALD TRUMP. Four years ago, Dr. Lee felt a duty to warn the country about dangerous possibilities stemming from a man who lacked the mental fitness to be president, breaking the “Goldwater Rule.” Dr. Lee had no background or interest in politics. For almost 20 years,  she had been trying to understand and prevent violence. It was her calling. After earning medical and divinity degrees while studying at Yale and Harvard, and a stint as chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, she joined Yale’s faculty to teach in both the school of medicine and the law school. In her clinical practice, she treated inmates in maximum security prisons, and in time she began applying psychiatric concepts to public health and safety.
Jan 14, 2021
Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson: The Confederate Flag on the United States Capitol
Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson examine how a day meant for celebrating democracy turned into a riot that sought to overturn a  free and fair election. Across the country and around the world people watched, horrified, dumbfounded and disbelieving, as insurrection incited by the President of the United States and his Republican enablers struck  at the very centerpiece of American governance.
Jan 08, 2021
Free Speech. Really? Bill Moyers talks with Ellis Cose
Bill Moyers talks with journalist and writer Ellis Cose whose most recent book is THE SHORT LIFE & CURIOUS DEATH OF FREE SPEECH IN AMERICA. Steeped in some of the critical debates of our times, Cose has grown increasingly concerned about democracy’s fate under the combined weight of technology, political corruption, and inequality.
Dec 24, 2020
Democracy on the Edge: Bill Moyers talks with Heather Cox Richardson and Steven Harper
Bill Moyers talks with noted lawyer Steven Harper and distinguished historian Heather Cox Richardson about threats to democracy. “When you have a society that loses respect for the rule of law, you lose civilization. There is an enormous price that gets paid.” — Steven Harper
Dec 10, 2020
Heather McGhee: How American Racism has a Cost for Everyone
Heather McGhee is descended from slaves in the American South.  Her great- grandparents and grandparents came north to work in the steel mills. She grew up on the south side of Chicago, taught in Spain and studied writing in Hollywood, then decided to change the world, or at least try. Her new book is THE SUM OF US.
Nov 18, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with David Berg and Daryl Bristow about Trump's Lawsuits
President Trump still will not admit he lost.  Trump has flooded the courts with lawsuits. Here to assess what’s going on are two of the country’s most experienced lawyers in election litigation.  Daryl Bristow worked for George W. Bush’s legal team on two Florida lawsuits regarding balloting for the 2000 presidential election.  David Berg has recently taken Trump and others to court over their efforts to use the Postal Service to discredit and dismiss mail-in ballots.
Nov 14, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with John Bonifaz and Ben Clements
This week, Bill Moyers talks with John Bonifaz and Ben Clements of Free Speech for People about the voting rights cases they've filed this election season and how we can work to protect our democracy after Election Day.
Oct 28, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Anne Nelson about "The Shadow Network"
Bill Moyers talks with author Anne Nelson about the little-known Council for National Policy. Behind the scenes, the CNP wields immense power and will hang on to it by any means. Their current target: our judges.
Oct 21, 2020
Lisa Graves Gives Us an Update on the Post Office Battle
We know more now than we knew then, including how the directives of Louis DeJoy have harmed the ability of the Postal Service, including with what they call the on-time departure, meaning on-time departure without your mail. And Louis DeJoy said he didn't forbid overtime, that he just restricted it. Okay. Well, that restriction had a huge impact on the on-time delivery of the mail. And so, the court rulings certainly worked to mitigate that.
Oct 07, 2020
The fix is in — and it’s Amy Coney Barrett
On this week's MOYERS ON DEMOCRACY, Bill Moyers speaks to Lisa Graves about what's at stake in rushing Amy Coney Barrett's nomination through the Senate. Barrett is a young judge who has been nominated with the understanding that Republicans are looking for her to cast a vote for Trump from the bench.
Oct 02, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Sarah Chayes about her book ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA
Bill Moyers talks with Sarah Chayes about her new book ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA: AND WHAT IS AT STAKE. "What I did was go to a variety of different countries and found that corrupt government was driving just about every world crisis you could name, including the environmental crisis, including mass migration, including a lot of civil strife. So, I felt as though focusing on anything else is almost derivative."
Sep 19, 2020
Bill Moyers Talks with Eric Alterman on Lying in State
Want to know why presidents lie – and which one is the worst? Bill Moyers talks with Eric Alterman about his new book LYING IN STATE. That’s L-Y-I-N-G. Alterman's deep historical research and engaging prose offer insight into our troubled present and our presidential past.
Sep 17, 2020
Taking Trump to Court to Protect Our Votes
One of America’s leading trial lawyers has taken Donald Trump to court, to stop what he describes as a conspiracy by the president, the postmaster general, and the Postal Service itself to rig the coming election.
Sep 12, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Lisa Graves about the Ongoing Threat to the Post Office
What's behind the Trump administration's drive to kill off the post service? Expert Lisa Graves says the move began in earnest in the early 1970s. That's when billionaire Charles Koch began to turn his money and effort toward privatization of the USPS — he is using the Koch empire to push his political agenda to this day, when the postal service is ripe for taking.
Aug 19, 2020
Bill talks with Heather Cox Richardson about HOW THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR
Yes, the Civil War brought an end to the slave order of the South and the rule of the plantation oligarchs who embodied white supremacy. But the Northern victory was short lived -- Southern ideals spread quickly to the West. It's all about America’s ongoing battle between oligarchy and democracy.
Jul 30, 2020
Bill talks to Heather Cox Richardson about Letters From An American
Bill Moyers talks with historian Heather Cox Richardson about her decision last fall to start writing small essays on the history behind today’s politics and posting them on her Facebook page as LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN.
Jul 29, 2020
Trump, Barr, Stone and Cohn: Apocalypse on the Potomac: Bill Moyers talks with Steven Harper
Steven was a litigator at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago and cited as one of the Best Lawyers in America. He created “The Trump-Russia Timeline” and now “The Pandemic Timeline.”
Jul 16, 2020
Bill T. Jones Talks With Bill Moyers about Race & Revolution, George Floyd and A Cabin Boy Named Pip
Bill Moyers talks with dancer and artist Bill T. Jones. The two have come together during times of disruption before — during the Aids crisis, after 9/11 and now after George Floyd.
Jul 11, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Rebecca Gordon about the Fourth of July
Bill Moyers talks with philosophy professor Rebecca Gordon about Black Lives Matter, America as a "failed state," and how the #BLM movement contains a prescription for what may save us.
Jul 03, 2020
Trump’s Grotesque Tulsa Speech and the Cult of Trump | Bill Moyers Talks with Jeff Sharlet
Bill Moyers talks with journalist Jeff Sharlet, whose reporting for Vanity Fair describes how Trump the orator has turned his reelection campaign into a militant crusade fueled by lies, conspiracy theories, and rhetoric that incites violence. Sharlet has been reporting on Trump’s rallies for years, and in his conversation with Bill he offers analysis of Trump’s grotesque Tulsa speech, that was viewed by over 7 million people on Fox News Saturday night. "He gave what I believe was the most rhetorically violent speech I’ve seen,” Sharlet says of Tulsa. "All these moments have been there before, but they were combined with a kind of explicitness. I haven’t heard them all in one speech before like this."
Jun 25, 2020
Bill Moyers talks with Rev. Dr. James Forbes About Juneteenth & America After George Floyd
Join us as Bill Moyers talks with Rev. James Forbes, a passionate advocate of celebrating Friday, June 19 as Juneteenth – the day in 1865 when the last of America’s slaves learned they were free. Because many states had refused to end slavery when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier, it took that long before Union troops landed in Texas with news that the Civil War was over and the quarter-million slaves in Texas were slaves no more. Since then, descendants of those former slaves have celebrated Juneteenth as their Independence Day. For the last five years Rev.Dr. James Forbes – senior minister emeritus of the city’s historic Riverside Church – has organized an acclaimed Juneteenth celebration in New York City, twice now at Carnegie Hall, this year online. Here for a conversation with him is his long-time friend, Bill Moyers.
Jun 18, 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
Margaret Atwood & Bill Moyers talk about Faith & Reason
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry, critical essays and graphic novels. Her latest, THE TESTAMENTS, is the co-winner of the 2019 Booker prize and the much-anticipated sequel to THE HANDMAID’S TALE which is now a critically acclaimed television series. This was recorded in 2006 as a video and reposted here as a podcast episode.
May 31, 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." — Journalist David Daley, author of "Unrigged" Bill Moyers and David Daley on voter suppression. Read the full transcript at
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
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