Sunday, September 23, 2007

You Need to Watch These Guys

I'm talking about Charlie Rose and Bill Moyers, both of PBS.

If you read the first entry in this blog, you'll suspicion that I have a think for journalists. You'd be right, but not just any journalists.

Charlie Rose

I started watching Charlie Rose a few years ago -- wait I can pin-point it. Whenever Jimmy Kimmel's show started on ABC -- that's when I started watching Charlie Rose, which is on at midnight and at noon, on my local PBS station.

Just in the last week, Charlie Rose's show had: 1) one hour with Alan Greenspan, talking about his new book; 2) one hour with Sean Penn talking about his new movie, Into the Wild; 3) an hour's discussion of heart disease with national experts, talking about the latest research and developments in treatments... Charlie Rose is as close as one gets, I think, to a Renaissance man on television.

I've seen discussions with modern artists, architects, photographers, actors and stage and film directors, scientists of every ilk, other journalists, writers -- both popular and literary, politicians, and numerous discussions of the Iraq war by everyone from journalists on the ground to retired generals to James Baker.

If you watch Charlie Rose regularly, you will become better informed about everything. If you care about being better informed, you should watch this show. It is that simple.

And, if you care about Mr. Rose's political leanings -- I can't say that I'm sure of them, which is another thing I like about him. He has also interviewed George Bush, insightfully but respectfully. When he asks his guests about the war, I feel as though, like me, he just would like someone to honestly say what the situation is and what is the best course from here. And, he actually has guests who will say that there is no "best course" -- only less bad courses of action.

Bill Moyers Journal

I have a much clearer sense of Bill Moyers's political leanings -- which are decidedly to the left. On the other hand, he's a man of some religious conviction, and often has guests talking about religion and philosophy.

He also had 2 guests recently, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, talking about why President Bush should be impeached, for his multiple violations of the Constitution.

I first became aware of Bill Moyers over 20 years ago, when he did a series of interviews with Joseph Campbell. Those interviews are fascinating and illuminate comparative religious study, for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing -- which I am.

Bill Moyers and Charlie Rose won't make you smarter, but they may make you feel that they are helping to stem the process of getting dumber. I get caught up in the daily grind of my job and am aware that the sound-bite driven news I hear on the radio or see at 11pm isn't giving me anything close to the whole story about anything. When I read, I read for pleasure and relaxation -- it is one of few vices in which I indulge anymore.

Mr. Moyers and Mr. Rose are well-read and well-informed and are men of unquenchable curiosity. We are fortunate that they share the fruits of their curiosity with us.