Bill Moyers

When certain causes become prairie fires, politicians make difficult choices, and often at the expense of someone like Jeremiah Wright and Walter Jenkins. That’s the cruel nature of American politics, where the end becomes the consummate objective, and sometimes the means to get there come at a great price.

The most important thing the giant philanthropies could do – Gates, Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society Institute, and new ones emerging – would be to create a $2-to-$3 billion Trust for Independent Journalism. They wouldn’t miss the money, and democracy would still have a fighting chance because of their investment.

When we were covering the 2008 campaign I told my young African American colleagues that despite the historical significance of victory, Barack Obama was going to break their hearts. They didn’t want to hear that, and they refused to believe it. Eighteen months later they started dropping by one by one to say, sadly: “He broke our hearts.” A couple of them even wept.

A profound transformation is happening here. The framers of our nation never envisioned these huge media giants; never imagined what could happen if big government, big publishing and big broadcasters ever saw eye-to-eye in putting the public’s need for news second to their own interests. I approach the end of my own long run believing more strongly than ever that the quality of journalism and the quality of democracy are inextricably joined … .

The most encouraging sign is that 71 percent of the public believe the system is profoundly corrupted by the power of money. Ninety-six percent of the people believe it’s “important” that we reduce the influence of money. Yet 91 percent think it’s “not likely” that its influence will be lessened. Think about that: People know what’s right to do yet don’t think it can or will be done.

Presidents are afraid to lose wars. They’re afraid to be outflanked on the right by the militarists. They don’t want to be seen as soft on either communism or soft on terrorism or whatever. So presidents are constantly tugged away from their domestic commitments to foreign policy.