When addressing the recent revelations about how Bill Moyers, when in the Johnson White House, requested the FBI investigate the private sexual lives of his professional colleagues and political adversaries, liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald echoed some of our critics in pointing out that those things happened “45 years ago (literally) as part of a Democratic administration.”
In my Pajamas piece, I acknowledged, “Greenwald’s got a point that this happened 45 years ago. But doesn’t it bother Greenwald that Moyers never publicly acknowledged what he did, much less apologized for it?“Â Well, in his response to Jack Shafer’s pieces in Slate on this matter, the one-time Democratic White House aide and current host of a program on a government-subsidized television network, fails to do just that.Â He didn’t acknowledge his mistakes, indeed, responded as if he had done nothing wrong.
Instead he blames Goldwater (Johnson’s 1964 rival for the White House) and his allies for trying to politicize the arrest of Walter Jenkins, a Johnson Administration official who was caught having sex in a public restroom.Â He goes on to praise the Johnson’s campaign for not leaking a supposed “tip” from then-FBI head J. Edgar Hoover that Goldwater operatives set Jenkins up!Â (“What!?!?” was how I reacted when I read that.)
Only tangentially* does Moyers address the recently revealed memo detailing his requests that the FBI investigate administration officials suspected of having homosexual tendencies.Â Â HIs letter is as Shafer describes it a “nondenial denial.”
This isn’t the first time when caught making a mistake, Moyers lashes out at a political rival. (This time, he even goes on to praise his own team!)Â If he were a Republican, he’d be called paranoid.
The least Moyers could do is say that when he served in the Johnson White House, he did some things which, with the passage of time, he now realizes (has long since realized) were wrong.Â He made mistakes and regrets them.Â Instead, he refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing, refuses to admit making any mistakes, doesn’t says he’s sorry, refuses to apologize.
I did page searches for the words, “sorry,” “mistake,” “apology” “apologize” and “regret” and came up empty.
Recall how back during the Bush Administration, the media were so eager for the then-president to acknowledge his mistakes?Â I wonder if Moyers was among their number.
For now he has shown himself even less capable than that Republican to admit wrongdoing (less capable even than Richard Nixon).Â No wonder Shafer calls the Democrat’s smugness intolerable.
*Moyers writes, “As the White House chief of staff at the time, it was my job to make sure the president’s requests were expedited, but it was also my responsibilityâ€”with the White House legal counselâ€”to make sure no individual was wronged in the process.”Â That seems as a tacit acknolwedgment that he did pen the memo in question.
UPDATE:Â Jamie Kirchick agrees:
But what makes Moyers’s contemptible behavior relevant is that even to this day he has yet to acknowledge wrongdoing, never mind apologize. That Moyers has since become a supporter of gay rights is irrelevant. None of that erases the fact that he used his power as a senior White House official to pry into the private lives of his own colleagues.
Today, he has the gall to excoriate other public figures and lecture the rest of us on virtue. After leaving government, Moyers became a journalist and subsequently produced PBS documentaries excoriating Richard Nixon over Watergate and Ronald Reagan over Iran-Contra. In the early 1990s, his star was so high and his reputation so pristine that he publicly considered running for president. His sanctimony rivals that of the pope.