Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Former President Richard Nixon at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House on June 23, 1972. (Photo: National Archives)

Former President Richard Nixon at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House on June 23, 1972. (Photo: National Archives)

As PBS Did With Nixon, Bill Moyers Calls for Primetime Airing of Trump Impeachment Hearings

"Pull out the stops once again, and for the sake of the nation, throw away the schedule," writes luminary of public broadcast journalism in full-page ad. "Who wins? Democracy—and viewers like you."

Jake Johnson

UPDATE: After it was reported Friday afternoon that PBS, in addition to its live coverage, will air upcoming Trump impeachment hearings across its digital platforms as well as re-airing them at prime time on its digital channel WORLD, carried by 157 public television stations (covering 64.4% of US TV households) nationwide, Bill Moyers issued the following statement to indicate that the broadcasters refusal to run the hearings in its flagship all-access public channels does not meet his and Winship's demand for a full and complete "Watergate-like primetime replay."

Moyers responded: “Our friends at PBS are saying they will not carry the hearings in prime time — period. Instead, they will throw them in the river and viewers can dive for it, because that’s what WORLD is, a place where important programs are sent to die. Raise your hand if you have ever found a show on World? How in the world — no pun intended — does it serve democracy to hide the hearings from people who come home from work to see them but don’t have cable, satellite, and internet access? If PBS were truly an alternative to corporate networks, it would repeat the hearings in prime time for the mass audience. Period.”

If you agree with us, said Moyers, "contact your local public station or PBS directly."


With the House set to hold its first public impeachment hearings next week as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, renowned public broadcast journalist Bill Moyers took out a full-page ad in the Friday print edition of the New York Times calling on PBS to carry the hearings live on television and re-air them in primetime every night, just as it did during the Nixon impeachment proceedings.

"Now, during yet another great Constitutional crisis, it's time for PBS to stand up again—to air the Trump impeachment hearings live during the day and repeat them in the evening primetime hours," reads the ad (pdf), which Moyers co-authored with longtime collaborator and Common Dreams senior writing fellow Michael Winship.

"Plenty of Americans still rely on good old broadcast TV to get the word," the ad—which appears on page 5—continues. "Hearken, PBS: Pull out the stops once again, and for the sake of the nation, throw away the schedule and air the Trump impeachment hearings in prime-time. Who wins? Democracy—and viewers like you."

Read the full ad (pdf):

In an op-ed for Common Dreams Friday, Moyers and Winship called readers to reach out to PBS directly or their local public stations and urge them to air the hearings.

(Disclosure: Moyers sits on the board of the Schumann Media Center and Winship's fellowship receives funding from the foundation.)

Moyers and Winship both began working in public broadcasting "when Watergate was at the top of the news," the veteran journalists noted in Common Dreams. Moyers began his long career at PBS with the Bill Moyers Journal, which aired between 1972 and 1976. Of the 37 Emmy's he received over the course of his career, Moyers' very first was for an essay on Watergate.

PBS' historic gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Nixon hearings "almost didn't happen," Moyers and Winship wrote, due to the former president's efforts to destroy public television, which he viewed as one of his many enemies.

"The least its gatekeepers can do now is re-broadcast these upcoming impeachment hearings in primetime. Yes, it means disrupting the schedule for as long as it takes."
—Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

"The now defunct-National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT), which produced the coverage for PBS, already was under fire from the Nixon administration," the journalists noted, "part of the president's efforts to quell 'Eastern liberal' dissent he thought was biased against him and even eliminate public television altogether. (Nixon special assistant Patrick Buchanan had said, 'We've got to zero it out, and that's that.')."

Attacks on public broadcasting have continued under the Trump administration. For three consecutive years, the president's budget has proposed the complete elimination of federal funding for PBS and NPR.

Moyers and Winship urged PBS to once again stand up to the "right-wing vigilantes" and "partisan budget-cutters in Congress and the White House" by broadcasting the Trump impeachment proceedings to the millions of people in the U.S. who rely on public television to stay informed.

"Once upon a time PBS offered prime-time specials, debates, even teach-ins to help us sort out complex public issues or get to the heart of a clear and present danger to our fragile democracy," Moyers and Winship wrote. "The least its gatekeepers can do now is re-broadcast these upcoming impeachment hearings in primetime."

"Yes, it means disrupting the schedule for as long as it takes," the journalists added. "And yes, we know they can be streamed online—but not every American has that luxury; many still rely for their information on the good, old-fashioned TV set."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo