Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Bill Moyers

I've always known him as the guy on PBS who idolized Joseph Campbell and bashed Christians.

Joseph Farah of World Net Daily has this portrait of Moyers:

Moyers was never a newsman. He was a political activist from the beginning. He first came to prominence in 1964 as a media aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was Moyers who produced the TV commercial that many believe sewed up the landslide victory by Johnson over Barry Goldwater.

It opened with a little girl counting the petals on a daisy on a beautiful day. It ended with a nuclear mushroom cloud and the ominous warning that this was the inevitable result of a Goldwater victory.

Christianity Today claims he was once a Southern Baptist pastor. Were they not so credible a source I would be highly skeptical, but assuming that is true Moyers has wandered far from his Christian roots.

So should we be surprised to find out that he is firmly in the right-to-die camp? This position seems inevitable given the morally relativistic unitarianoid quasi-Christianity that Moyers sometimes alludes to as his faith. According to our trusty Timeline, Moyers started work on the PBS special On Our Own Terms in 1999.

[In September 2000] Bill Moyers' On Our Own Terms airs on public television. $2.7 million from RWJF for the $6.25 million production. The program encouraged the audience to call in for information, and to join coalitions. Compassion in Dying, an organization that promotes assisted-suicide, provided volunteers to answer some of the phone lines. The network of volunteers across the country would provide the framework for Rallying Points (see January, 2001).
From Nathan Cummings Foundation, Inc.

1997 Educational Broadcasting Corporation $40,000
1998 Educational Broadcasting Corporation $500,000

From Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

1999 ID #35477 $2,750,000 (Last Acts site listed grantee as Public Affairs Television, Inc; RWJF Annual Report indicates grantee was Educational Broadcasting Corp.)
2000 ID #38964 American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) $560,000 (for a special companion piece in Modern Maturity. The title of the lead piece was "The Last Taboo.")

Prior to broadcast, Partnership for Caring hosted a Capitol Hill reception featuring Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), James Oberstar (D-MN), Frances Glendening, (First Lady of Maryland), Juan Williams, Daniel Tobin, MD, Joanne Lynn, MD, and Marian Gray Secundy. (See PfC's newsletter Voices, Winter, 2000; page 4; also Americans for Better Care of the Dying website.)

[January 2001]Karen Orloff Kaplan of Partnership for Caring calls the first Rallying Points meeting in Newport Beach, California, on January 8. This first conference is a gathering of about 300 people from across the US who participated in Bill Moyers' On Our Own Terms program. Rallying Points would not be formally launched until the next year (see February, 2002). Its purpose is "a bottom-up approach to changing the attitudes towards death and dying of consumers, providers and health care institutions. It is intended to complement the top-down strategies of Last Acts and other organizations that work at the national level to change the public mindset . . . "

Once again the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation provided the cash. Moyers' show also spun off another campaign which cynically billed itself as a response to the grief of 9-11:

Finding Our Way: Living With Dying in America
A 15-part newspaper series carried by Knight-Ridder, meant to build on Moyers' television series. As Partnership for Caring wrote in their newsletter, "Building on the momentum of the highly successful community outreach associated with last year’s PBS airing of On Our Own Terms, Moyers On Dying which had an audience nearly 60% larger than the PBS prime-time average the local coalitions hope to stimulate a similar response with Finding Our Way."
Funding for Finding Our Way: $300,000 from RWJF to Daniel Tobin's "Life Institute;" and $150,000 from Samuels Foundation to Partnership for Caring.
Though the program had been planned long before September 11, Last Acts released the new program as part of a grief management program in response to the World Trade Center attack, with the headline "Nation's Largest Health Foundation Commits Multi-Million-Dollar Response to Terrorism."

In 2002 another phase of this project launched, again backed by RWJF:

February: Last Acts formally announces the Rallying Points project. Four months prior, RWJF awarded $12 million to Karen Orloff Kaplan and Partnership for Caring (director of Last Acts) to establish Rallying Points and build upon the 300+ grass roots coalitions established by Bill Moyers' public television broadcast On Our Own Terms. Partnership for Caring named four resource centers that would counsel the coalitions. Three of the centers were regional centers as well as specialists in a field of concern to the activists:

Midwest Bioethics Center a/k/a Center for Practical Bioethics (Midwest region; specializing in advance directives; home of "Community-State Partnerships");

Hospice of the Florida Suncoast (Eastern region; specializing in community-level public education); [see below: Terri Schiavo]

Ira Byock's Missoula Demonstration Project (Western region; specializing in community-based research and developing needs assessments

Note the reappearance of George Felos' Florida Suncoast and Ram Dass disciple Ira Byock.

Moyers' series cites admirable goals of helping people choose a comfortable death. No one wishes anyone a painful miserable death. But this is a thinly veiled PR campaign for the right-to-die movement's agenda. There is open discussion of physical assisted suicide, and not one single pro-life voice is heard.

Like Joseph Farah, I also admit to being fascinated by Moyers' though process. To me the self assurance of his generation, which probably more than any other was able to influence the times in which they lived, is ultimately poignant. The conviction that they had lived on their own terms could be maintained by mutual consent, but no such option ultimately exists when we face death alone.
papijoe 6:12 AM