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.

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.

Unless you’re willing to fight and refight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work with nuts going over every detail to make certain you’ve got it right, and then take hit after unfair hit accusing you of bias, there’s no use even trying. You have to love it, and I do. You just hope it strikes a spark somewhere in the critical mass of public opinion and helps some people to resist further the seductions of political and corporate advertising.

The Supreme Court consistently favors organized money and the political privileges of the corporate class. We have a Senate that is more responsive to affluent constituents than to middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of income distribution have no apparent effect at all on the Senate’s roll call votes.

It’s very difficult to measure the impact on policy of any investigative journalism. You hope it matters to let a little more truth loose in the world, but you can’t always be sure it does. You do it because there’s a story to be told. I can tell you that the job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is about as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place.