Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The film Selma, which chronicles the pivotal battle in the civil rights movement, is currently in theaters and has even garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The film has an unlikely critic, however—PBS host and former White House aide to Lyndon Johnson Bill Moyers. Moyers accuses the film of an “egregious and outrageous portrayal [of Lyndon Johnson’s conduct] that is the worst kind of creative license.” Specifically, Moyers is upset that the film suggests LBJ was behind Coretta Scott King receiving a recording of her husband having sex with another woman.
As an icon of the American left, Bill Moyers is unlikely ever to be held accountable for the sins he committed as Lyndon Johnson’s White House hatchet man. Nonetheless, we never fail to be amazed at Moyers’s arrogance and willingness to wade into civil rights debates given his own participation in the Johnson administration’s persecution of Martin Luther King Jr. The Weekly Standard’s own Andrew Ferguson first dragged Moyers’s misdeeds back into the light two decades ago in the New Republic:
As the campaign against King progressed, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover routinely forwarded to the White House summaries of the King wiretaps, which were placed not only in King’s home and office but also in his hotel rooms around the country. The summaries covered not only King’s dealings with associates but also his sexual activities. After receiving one such summary, Moyers instructed the FBI to disseminate it widely throughout the executive branch, to Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Carl Rowan, and many others. Moyers was also aware at the time of Hoover’s efforts to leak the King material to the press.
That wasn’t the full extent of it. In 2009, the Washington Post reported that Moyers had also made inquiries regarding the sexual preferences of Jack Valenti and others working in the White House. When the Post asked about these allegations, it reported: “Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years.”
Moyers’s reputation in the LBJ White House at the time was such that veteran journalist Morley Safer had this to say in his memoir: “I find it hard to believe that Bill Moyers would engage in character assassination. . . . But I confess, I find it harder not to believe it.” Safer continued:
His part in Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover’s bugging of Martin Luther King’s private life, the leaks to the press and diplomatic corps, the surveillance of civil rights groups at the 1964 Democratic Convention, and his request for damaging information from Hoover on members of the Goldwater campaign suggest he was not only a good soldier but a gleeful retainer feeding the appetites of Lyndon Johnson.
There is no doubt that Johnson and Moyers had zero scruples when it came to spying on people’s sex lives and leaking personally damaging information. Maybe LBJ wasn’t behind the leaking of MLK’s sex tape to his wife, but Moyers is the last person one should trust to tell the truth about it, and it is by no means the “worst kind of creative license” to speculate Johnson was capable of such a thing. Indeed, this is a case where the use of creative license is more than warranted. Whatever other historical facts Selma may have gotten wrong, we’d venture that nothing in the film is quite so outrageous as the fact that a seemingly unrepentant Moyers thinks he has the moral standing to complain about the accurate portrayal of Lyndon Johnson as a president who abused his power.
We can dream, can’t we?Oct 20, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 06 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Kingsley Amis, the British novelist, once explained that everything that had gone wrong with his country in the second half of the last century could be summarized in the word “workshop.” His point is sound. No two syllables better conjure up the mandatory “sharing,” the regimented bonhomie and bogus cheerfulness, the mincing
The crackpot social science of generational analysis Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
As far as newspaper corrections go, it was a whopper. On August 24, the editors of the New York Times sucked the air out of a windy essay that had blown through its pages a few days before. The original article bore the headline “Generation Nice.” It was adorned with color photos of fresh-faced teens and twenty-somethings. All of them looked nice. In case Times readers were confused (they’re not getting any younger), the subheadline drove the point home: “The Millennials Are Generation Nice.” And that was the theme of the article, too.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
It has been five years now since America got the news, or was supposed to: Henceforth our children would enjoy a revolutionary new approach to learning in the public schools, in the form of national educational standards. They’re called the Common Core State Standards, or Common Core for short—or if you’re in a particular hurry, CCSS. Why national standards should bear the official title “State Standards” is one of the many peculiarities that make Common Core interesting to think about.
Wrigley Field and the national pastime. May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
You can tell George Will is a serious baseball fan because—I wish I could find another way to put this—he is serious about baseball. The statement isn’t (quite!) as fatuous as it sounds. Lots of people who profess their love of baseball are mere romantics and mythologists.
How Andrew Wyeth saw the world, and himself. May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Was Andrew Wyeth so celebrated because he was so misunderstood, or did it work the other way around? His reputation seems ill-fitting, whether you consider him one of the great American painters of the last century, as many laymen and a few professionals do, or a kitsch monger and conman, as many more professionals and a few sniffy, wised-up laymen do.
The perpetual adulation of Herblock.Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Herblock: The Black & the White, a documentary about the editorial cartoonist Herbert Block, had its cable premiere on HBO last week, and we can expect repeated showings for many weeks to come, creating a low-buzz Herblockfest interspersed dizzily among re-airings of Girls.
The Books and Arts Podcast is hosted by Philip Terzian.8:15 AM, Dec 27, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The new WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast, with literary editor Philip Terzian and his guest, senior editor Andrew Ferguson. This week they discuss Ferguson's recent cover story on Ambrose Bierce.
The brave life and mysterious death of Ambrose Bierce. Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
One golden autumn morning 100 years ago, a few blocks from where I’m writing these words in northwest Washington, D.C., Ambrose Bierce said goodbye to his secretary, turned the key in the door to his apartment on Logan Circle, and went off to God knows where.
Remember when the battle of the sexes was a laughing matter?Aug 12, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 45 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
I'm showing my age again, but I can remember, just barely, when we had the war between men and women. Not a war, but the war: eternal and (of course) metaphorical, a fight without massed ranks of infantry or elaborate flanking maneuvers or formal parleys among belligerents.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:45 PM, May 28, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Andrew Ferguson, author of Crazy U, on the rising cost of college and whether it's still worth the cost.
Jun 3, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 36 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
The workings of Washington sometimes attain a kind of purity in their illogic. This happens most often after a particularly jarring event, when the frenzy to do something, anything, becomes irresistible to the beehiving journalists, legislators, lobbyists, and regulators who constitute the capital’s political class. Usually the legislative overreaction is blessedly fleeting and inconsequential.
Senior editor Andrew Ferguson, with host Michael Graham.4:51 PM, Mar 26, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Andrew Ferguson on the Supreme Court's consideration of same sex marriage and his editorial "The ‘Science’ of Same-Sex Marriage." Hosted by Michael Graham.
Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him?Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
Last fall, a few days before Halloween and about a month after the publication of Mind and Cosmos, the controversial new book by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, several of the world’s leading philosophers gathered with a group of cutting-edge scientists in the conference room of a charming inn in the Berkshires. They faced one another around a big table set with pitchers of iced water and trays of hard candies wrapped in cellophane and talked and talked, as public intellectuals do. PowerPoint was often brought into play.