Profiles of America’s Beloved TV Celebrities (32) – Bill Moyers, CIA “Liberal” (and Nazi Joseph Campbell)
By Alex Constantine
On PBS, Moyers promotes the work of the late fascist eugenicist Joseph Campbell, a vicious anti-Semite who has proposed relocating Jewish people to the moon. Moyers seems to have no problem with that, though – as long as his audience doesn’t know and he continues to reap his share of Campbell’s book profits UNDER THE TABLE, a massive perk that he has publicly denied …
Bill Moyers is the most visible “liberal” in the national media, and Amy Goodman’s icon of progressive journalism. The Schumann Foundation, chaired by Moyers for years, has been busily shaping the mass-market progressive press. Television Quarterly, a journal of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, ranks Moyers among the ten journalists who have most influenced television news. He has won more than 30 Emmys, a George Peabody award, a Ralph Lowell medal and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel. His documentaries have paid off handsomely in network fund drives. Several of his books have been best-sellers. The avuncular Moyers, a former Baptist minister from Marshall, Texas, has been an Arthur Morse Fellow at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Social Research Institute.
But Moyers does not exactly fit the traditional liberal profile. Morley Safer of 60 Minutes fame recalls that, as President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary, Moyers was responsible for the FBI’s bugging of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the leaking of transcripts to the media. Moyers denied the bugging and leaking allegations in a letter to The New Republic in 1991, but did allow that he leaked “information” only to “officials involved in national security.” This much was confirmed by a Senate Intelligence Committee staff report released in 1976: “Moyers expressly approved the circulation within the Executive Branch of a secret FBI report on King.”
Moyers was also the instigator of a disgraceful episode at the White House, one that anticipated Nixon’s “dirty tricks.” His pissing match with Safer began in August, 1965, when CBS News reported that U.S. Marines had torched a village in Vietnam. The story was followed by public indignation and it fed the rising opposition to Johnson’s escalation policy. CBS president Frank Stanton was called on the carpet for the exposé at a private meeting with LBJ and his Kennedy-coifed aide. LBJ told Stanton that Moyers had a damaging file on Safer compiled from the records of the FBI, CIA and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The extortion “file” was an idle threat – it didn’t exist. Unless Safer “cleaned up his act,” the administration would “go public” with the CBS reporter’s “communist ties.” Safer scoffed at the accusation and held his job at CBS. Today, Moyers waves off the episode as “a bluff.”
Public television’s premiere “liberal” is as practiced at the art of deception as he is blackmail. In October, 1977, Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame reported in Rolling Stone that Bill Moyers ran a “super-secret” CIA task force mustered to study the feasibility of short-waving propaganda to the People’s Republic of China. The project was overseen by the CIA’s Cord Meyer, McGeorge Bundy, a national security advisor to Johnson, USIA director John Marks and Moyers.
He certainly wore hawk feathers when taped in the White House by LBJ: “Mr. President, I would like to suggest that you really keep pressure on Bundy and Rusk and McCone and others to press forward on what we can do about Cuba – about subversion, espionage and intelligence. Now there are two reasons for this: One, I think we’ve got to do it. It’s necessary. Cuba has got to be dealt with…”
“Moyers regards himself as the “catalyst’ of the Johnson administration,” Current Biography (1966 edition) reported, “and Johnson has described him as my vice-president in charge of anything.'” Vice President Moyers became Hoover’s pipeline to Johnson in 1964, after Walter Jenkins, his predecessor, was busted for “disorderly conduct” in a Beltway men’s room.
Moyers dropped from the sinking Johnson administration in 1967 to become publisher of Newsday in Long Island, then owned by millionaire Harry Guggenheim. Two years passed and Guggenheim confided to Moyers his intent in selling the newspaper. In an attempt to save his job, Moyers tried to interest CIA director William Casey, Chase Manhattan Bank, the New York Times and Time-Life in buying it. He moved on to PBS the same year – after Guggenheim reneged on bequeathing him his fortune, as promised – and joined the board of the Rockefeller Foundation where he remained for 17 years. In 1980, Moyers produced The World of David Rockefeller, an unabashed PR whitewash.
In 1976, CBS forgave his White House antics and drafted Moyers to the news division. Employees of the network recall him as “brilliant” … also “duplicitous,” “calculating,” “cunning.” Gordon Van Sauter, a right-wing CBS executive, recollects “a truly reprehensible human being.” The multi-faceted news analyst dropped CBS two years later for PBS.
In 1981, he bugged out once again when his contract at Bill Moyers’ Journal expired and returned to CBS News. He passed through the revolving door, from corporate compromise to public pabulum, for years. “Everybody calls me Hamlet,” he explains of his own seeming indecisiveness, “but I call it brilliance.”
Say what you will of Bill Moyers, his Muckrake Lite approach (fascism in government? No mention of the obvious …) has actually served the public interest on occasion. His October, 1973 “Essay on Watergate,” delivered on a program funded by the Ford Foundation, was a dirge that warmed the republic to Nixon’s impending political collapse. His documentaries, What Can We Do About Violence?, Minimum Wages, and The Secret Government (it didn’t tell the half the story) served the commonweal in their fashion.
But it is the larceny in his heart that TV Guide does not probe. Nowhere was his dark side more apparent than in his series of highly-publicized interviews with famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). A book based on the series was an immediate best-seller. Ruppert Murdoch’s New York Post found it “provocative and inspirational.” Truth to tell, The Power of Myth was an inspirational but deceitful promotion of a Nazi occultist and a vicious anti-Semite with ties to the American neo-Nazi underground. Promotion of the book was a display of greed that would put a blush on the face of a fugitive financier.
After the series aired, the September 28, 1989 number of New York Review of Books published an article by Brendan Gill, a long-time friend of Campbell’s at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Gill reports that in December 1941, three days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Campbell delivered a talk discouraging students from supporting American entrance into the war with Nazi Germany. Campbell soiled German author Thomas Mann, an exile in the States who had “lost altitude” as a writer by criticizing the Nazi Party. Mann, in a letter to Campbell, responded that he found this rebuke “strange,” and pointed out that his books were “forbidden in Germany and in all countries that Germany rules, and whoever reads them or even should sell them, and whoever would so much as praise my name publicly would be put into a concentration camp and his teeth would be bashed in and his kidneys split in two. You teach that we must not get upset about that … once again, this is strange.”
Not necessarily, considering Campbell’s acute and unswerving anti-Semitism. Ms Carol Wallace recalled in a letter to NYRB: “In the early 1970s, I worked with Joe Campbell on his Mythic Image at Princeton University Press. It was amazing to me that this man of cosmic vision could harbor such mean-spirited and seemingly unexamined biases against much of humankind. In addition to anti-Semitism, I remember in particular his vexation over blacks’ being admitted to Sarah Lawrence.”
“When the astronauts landed on the moon,” Gill recalled, “Joe made the repellent jest to a member of my family, who was a student of his at the time, that the moon would be a good place to put the Jews…”
A correspondent, Carol Luther of San Anselmo, California, wrote Gill to say that she once “attended a lecture in which Campbell recounted what he called a popular Indian fable (a favorite of Campbell’s in old age), the gist of which was that we are not all mere mild grass-eating goats but, instead, are blood-thirsty, carnivorous tigers, who do well to prey upon whatever lower species of animal makes up our natural diet.” Incited, Luther “rose shaking from my chair and shouted, ‘What about the six million [Jews] who were gassed during World War II?'” In response, Campbell simply shrugged and spat, “That’s your problem.”
Joseph Campbell not only shrugged off the Holocaust – he was a major force in the racial eugenics movement until his death in 1987. For many years he sat on the editorial board of Mankind Quarterly, the notorious “race journal” subsidized by the notorious Pioneer Fund. The Quarterly‘s founder, Robert Gayre, held that African-Americans are “worthless.” The Quarterly was long published by Roger Pearson, an official of the pro-fascist Northern League, an organization that included among its ranks a number of veterans of Himmler’s SS. Other prominent academics who contributed to the journal: Henry Garrett of the White Citizens Council, Ottmar von Verschuer, Josef Mengele’s mentor, and Corrado Gini, an Italian biologist under Mussolini, author of The Scientific Basis of Fascism.
Even the Campbell approach to myth recalled Nazi Germany – handed down from Carl Jung, a CIA recruit, former editor of the ranking psychiatric journal of the National Socialist Party, whose books, translated in the United States with funding from Edith Rockefeller, reek of proto-Nazi occultism.
The Power of Myth still reaps a windfall in donations to the network and its affiliates. A book based on the series was co-authored and edited with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by a consultant to the series, Betty-Sue Flowers, a former English professor at the University of Texas and director of the LBJ Library. John Trimble, a UT English professor who has known her for 30 years, calls Flowers “the female Bill Moyers.” Like the original, she is comfortable in the boardroom and knows her way around Washington. The Austin American Statesman observed on April 7, 2002 that Flowers travels “in the world of multinational corporations – and once spent a couple of weeks in the Pentagon as a special advisor to the secretary of the Navy. ”
The “female Bill Moyers” sits on the boards of Breckenridge Petroleum Co. Also the Arlington Institute, a research center in Virginia with blue-chip corporate and federal clients, a distinction Flowers shares with former CIA director James Woolsey, Gerald Ford appointee George H. Kuper, and Colin Crook, former chief technologist at Citicorp. The institute was founded in 1989 by John Peterson, formerly an official of the Institute for National Security Studies, the office of the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council.
Like Joseph Campbell, Ms. Flowers is enrolled in the Jung school of comparative religion. Besides The Power of Myth, she edited Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership (1996), a Jungian romp for corporate executives by tin-horn visionary Joseph Jaworski, son of the Watergate prosecutor appointed by then Attorney General Robert Bork, Leon Jaworski.
Fascination with Nazis is apparently imprinted on the Jaworski phenotype. A repugnant hallmark of Leon Jaworski’s career was his release of Nazis to the American intelligence services as a Nuremberg war crimes trial prosecutor.
He also worked with the Red Cross International Rescue Division to relocate SS officers around the world. In exchange, he was made chairman of Houston’s Red Cross chapter in 1954. Other blots on the old man’s résumé include his legal work for the Warren Commission. Despite a career of collaboration with fascists, he was endowed with every honor the legal profession has to offer. He was “very close” friend of George H.W. Bush, and supported his fellow Houstonian in his 1980 bid for president.
“The constant act of being true to oneself – authentic in thought, work and deed – is what carves the path in front of you, a path you can’t predict,” Flowers says. Who could predict that the bubbly former beauty pageant contestant, feminist, poet and Jungian from Austin would make a splash promoting the work of a Nazi mystic for PBS, and pouring on a lubricious New Age veneer?
Perdido magazine had it in a review of Synchronicity: “Jaworski begins by telling the story of his father, Leon Jaworski, a nationally prominent litigator, and his role as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal. ‘The Colonel,’ as Jaworski called his father, related the dimensions of the conspiracy to his son one day, before the details of the Watergate tapes became public. Watergate marked a significant revelation in Joe Jaworski’s life, the realization that a crisis in leadership existed in this country. With an immensely personal style, Jaworski examines the experiences of his life that seemed to transcend the moment, that were guided by some unseen hand.” In 1990, Jasworski was hired by Royal Dutch/Shell Oil in London to direct a multinational panel on future “global scenarios.”
Jung defined synchronicity as “a meaningful coincidence of two or more events, where something other than the probability of chance is involved.”
Every turn in this story leaves chance begging for something to do. The main beneficiary in the pimping of Joseph Campbell was the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) when presided over by Robert Coonrod. Coonrod was executive VP and chief operating officer of Voice of America for five years. In 1992 ,VOA director Richard Carlson moved to CPB and Coonrod followed. When Carlson set sail in April, 1997 to run King World Public Television, Coonrod was promoted to head up CPB.
Under President George W. Bush, the CPB was overseen for one year by CEO Kathleen Cox. Executive vice president and CEO Ken Ferree succeeded her as interim president in April 2005. Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told Media Week that Cox’s departure was integral to a plan to bring public television and radio into line with right-wing policies. “The ideologically driven majority on the board is pursuing a zealous campaign to promote conservative/GOP-approved public broadcasting programming,” Chester said. Ferree, who hailed from Michael Powell’s FCC, joined the CPB one month before his the promotion was announced. At the FCC, Ferree served as chief of the media division, where he paved the way for greater corporate control of the airwaves.