‘Need to Know’ Doesn’t Know Why It’s No Replacement for Moyers

Trying to explain why Need to Know, the PBS public affairs show that appeared in the Friday night timeslot vacated by Bill Moyers Journal and Now, has gotten such a cool reception from viewers, co-host Allison Stewart seems to blame nostalgia. “Obviously you can’t replace Bill Moyers,” says Stewart
(Show Tracker, 8/5/10). “That’s just a ridiculous notion.”

The funny thing is, Bill Moyers was replaced: When he left Now to resume doing Bill Moyers Journal, David Brancaccio took over as host, later joined by Maria Hinojosa. Under their tenure, Now retained its loyal following, because Brancaccio and Hinojosa were pursuing the same kind of independent investigative journalism that Moyers had aspired to–the kind of programming that PBS was created to air because it’s unlikely to be produced by commercial networks.

If those same viewers find Need to Know lacking, it’s not because Stewart and co-host Jon Meacham aren’t Moyers–it’s because they don’t understand the journalistic values that Moyers represented.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.