The sister channels PBS (television) and NPR (radio) must have radically different standards. What those are exactly isn't really clear. But we now know what is a firing offense at NPR, considering what happened to Juan Williams. As for PBS, the television station allows their employees to compare the Taliban to Republicans.
As Steve Hayes reported previously in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Bill Moyers was a "pioneer" in this field:
Moyers was a pioneer in deploying the conservatives-as-Taliban trope. Here's what he said in a speech last March 22: "When [producer] Sherry [Jones] and I reported the truth behind the news of the Iran-contra scandal for a Frontline documentary called 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors,' the right-wing Taliban in town went running to the ayatollahs in Congress, who decried the fact that public television was committing--horrors--journalism."
In another sense, though, the choice of Moyers to lead a national reflection in the wake of September 11 was strange. Moyers hardly qualifies as politically nonaligned, a neutral moderator respectful of all sides. In recent years, this veteran of the Great Society--he began his public life as an aide to President Lyndon Johnson--has drifted further to the left, his arguments increasingly strident. By 1991, he was telling interviewer Eric Alterman, "I find it very hard to have intelligent conversations with people on the right wing because they want to hit first and ask questions later."
Moyers's difficulty conversing with people on the right seems to have impaired his ability to report their opinions fairly, particularly on issues of race. "The right gets away with blaming liberals for their efforts to help the poor, but what the right is really objecting to is the fact that the poor are primarily black," he told Alterman. "The man who sits in the White House today [George H.W. Bush] opposed the Civil Rights Act. So did Ronald Reagan. This crowd is really fighting a retroactive civil rights war to prevent the people they dislike because of their color from achieving success in American life."
For Moyers, the statement was hardly exceptional. No wonder some on Capitol Hill and in public television are incensed at Mitchell's choice of host for the new PBS series. "Why Moyers?" asks one longtime Republican adviser. "The only qualification for Moyers in this area is that he keeps comparing conservative Republicans to the Taliban."