It was a hot night of hard-left talk on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on Thursday night, when Smiley’s guest was radical Pacifica Radio anchorwoman Amy Goodman. The host of the daily Democracy Now program was decrying how American liberties have disappeared under George W. Bush, and Smiley wasn’t asking hostile questions, but softballs: "How do you explain how this Patriot Act has, in fact, crushed so many people? Crushed people, threatened people, put people at all types of unease?" Smiley never named one.
Goodman played up how awful it was, with Big Bad Bush crushing librarians and booksellers: "It is a very big problem. It was written before 9/11; it was just passed after 9/11, and that's the big problem. I travel around the country and we support independent bookstores all over. It's not only the librarians; it's the independent booksellers who also fall under the purview of the Patriot Act. It says that they and the librarians have to hand over information."
Independent booksellers and librarians are great, but the allegation here is that they were pressed for information. That's not "crushing" them or imprisoning them. They also discussed how "dissident psychologists" would prevent prisoner abuse. Smiley laid it on thick about how great Goodman was, just like PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers does:
SMILEY: "...you, more courageously than anybody else I know on radio, are raising these issues every single day -- radio and TV now, on Democracy Now -- you're raising these issues every single day, and yet I wonder whether or not you think that the average American really has a good understanding of how our civil liberties have been curbed. How they've been under threat, under attack. We hear stories here and there, but until you read this and until something happens to you or somebody you know, I wonder whether or not we really get that?
GOODMAN: I think people do at every level. I really think that President Bush has managed to unite people across the political spectrum against him. I think conservative Republicans, like progressives, Greens, Independents, Democrats, deeply care about privacy, care about corporate control, care about the war. Right now, those who are opposed to torture, those who are opposed to war, are not a fringe minority, not even a silent majority, but a silenced majority.
They weren't exactly "silenced" on PBS. They're ranting away against an alleged American dictator crushing civil liberties, with taxpayers footing the bill. They don't consider that by taking our money and trashing the war on terrorism, they're violating our right not to pay for the opposition's microphone.