With sanity and good sense so media rare these days, when Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck star in "The 100 Most Influential People in the World," the loss of Bill Moyers' voice on PBS every weekend is hard to bear.
His retirement at 75 marks the last of a generation of 20th century journalists, inspired by Edward R. Murrow, dedicated not to getting the story first but getting it right, to concentrating on what used to be scoffed as "soft news" but, in today's 24/7 flood of facts, factoids and fakery, is the news that really counts.
Starting out as an ordained minister, the young Texan was derailed into national politics by LBJ, emerging from Great Society idealism and the bitter reality of Vietnam into a media world, never losing the liberal, populist bent inherited from his father, an East Texas laborer, who thought of FDR as a friend in the White House:
"My father knew FDR was talking for him when he said life was no longer free, liberty no longer real, men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness--against economic tyranny."
In his final Journal this weekend, Moyers was still his father's son, warning that now the "marriage of money and politics has produced an America of gross inequality at the top and low social mobility at the bottom, with little but anxiety and dread in between, as middle class Americans feel the ground falling out from under their feet...
"So it is that like those populists of that earlier era, millions of Americans have awakened to a sobering reality: they live in a plutocracy, where they are disposable. Then, the remedy was a popular insurgency that ignited the spark of democracy.
"Now we have come to another parting of the ways, and once again the fate and character of our country are up for grabs."
Agree or not, losing that media voice is bad for the country at a time when Sarah Palin, in Time Magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential Americans, can rhapsodize about her fellow designee and Fox News colleague, Glenn Beck:
"Though he sometimes dismisses himself as an aw-shucks guy or just a 'rodeo clown,' he's really an inspiring patriot who was once at the bottom but now makes a much needed difference from the very, very top."
Somewhere in Media Heaven, Edward R. Murrow must be frowning, and Time's founding father Henry Luce can't be too thrilled, either.