Published on Friday, February 20, 2004 by Reuters
Journalist Bill Moyers Leaving PBS After Elections
by Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES - Veteran TV journalist, author and social commentator Bill Moyers plans to leave his weekly PBS magazine "Now" after the elections to write a book about his former boss, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the public broadcasting network said on Thursday.
The Oklahoma-born Moyers, 69, who began his journalism career as a teenage cub reporter for a small-town Texas newspaper, served as a special assistant to Johnson during his term in the U.S. Senate and later worked in the LBJ White House, including two years as press secretary.
Ordained as a Baptist minister, Moyers also served as deputy director of the Peace Corps in President John F. Kennedy's administration. In more recent years, Moyers' name has periodically been floated by political progressives who have sought to draft him to run for president.
During a 32-year broadcasting career, Moyers established himself as one of the leading storytellers and cultural anthologists in television journalism, exploring topics ranging from government and politics to religion, poetry and myth.
"I learned a long time ago that there is a season for everything. My 'season' in public broadcast has lasted 32 years," Moyers said in a brief statement. "It's finally time to move on to some other pursuits that I want to accomplish while there are still enough grains of sand in the top of the hourglass."
PBS spokeswoman Lea Sloan said Moyers planned to stay on as host of "Now with Bill Moyers" through the upcoming presidential race before leaving to write his book.
PROGRAM'S FUTURE BEING DISCUSSED
"Now," which debuted in January 2002, airs Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. and draws an average audience of 2.6 million viewers a week, mixing in-studio interviews with investigative reporting.
Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive of PBS, said the network was in discussions with the show's executive producer, John Siceloff, about the future of the program, which has been co-hosted for several months by former public radio host David Brancaccio.
After a stint in government, Moyers left Washington to become publisher of the Newsday newspaper on Long Island in the late 1960s, then took to the national airwaves in 1970 as host of "Bill Moyers' Journal" on PBS.
He later moved to CBS as a commentator, contributing to the "Evening News with Dan Rather."
Two attempts to launch his own prime-time program on CBS failed to achieve sufficient ratings, and Moyers returned to PBS in 1986, joining his wife, Judith Anderson, to form Public Affairs Television to produce his own programs.
Among the documentary series he created and hosted were such titles as "In Search of the Constitution," "God and Politics," "World of Ideas," "The Power of the Word," "The Public Mind" and "Listening to America with Bill Moyers."
Many became successful books. One of them, based on the work of scholar Joseph Campbell, "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth," was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year.
In 1995, Moyers also briefly joined NBC News as a senior analyst and commentator and the following year became the first host of sister cable network MSNBC's "Insight" program.
© Reuters Ltd 2004