Bill Moyers’ gay witch hunt

Is the liberal PBS host a hypocrite for trying to out LBJ staffers?

Liberal PBS host Bill Moyers has some explaining to do, said Jack Shafer in Slate. The Washington Post reported that when Moyers was working for President Lyndon Johnson, he directed J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to investigate whether two fellow Johnson administration officials had “homosexual tendencies.” The “gay hunting” made political sense in 1964—LBJ aide Walter Jenkins had just been arrested having gay sex in a restroom—but Moyers should own up to it.

This isn’t the first time Moyers’ name has been linked to gay hunting, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Federal judge Laurence Silberman, who read all of Hoover’s secret files in 1975, says that Moyers also asked the FBI to search for any homosexuals working for LBJ’s 1964 rival, Barry Goldwater. Amazingly, this is the same Moyers who has remade himself into a “political moralist.”

Moyers’ long second act as “the conscience of the American press” is pretty unbelievable, said Glenn Garvin in The Miami Herald online. He was one of LBJ’s “dirtiest henchmen,” and his “gay-bashing” is just the tip of the iceberg. But if history is any guide, this load of Moyers’ “dirty laundry” will vanish “down the memory hole” like all the rest.

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Cut the man a little slack, said Ryan Tate in Gawker. His response to the Post, that he can’t remember the details of what happened in 1964, is a little weak. But “Moyers is 74.” And besides, “people will probably forgive him trying to protect a pro-civil-rights president against then-lethal associations with gays.”

The gay “witch hunts” were famously an obsession of Hoover’s, said Connecticut’s Middletown Press in an editorial, and the main focus of the Post’s article is a look at how Hoover “pestered Johnson” until he let them look into whether another LBJ aide, Jack Valenti, was gay. Hoover’s focus on the sex lives of others “seems almost quaint now”—hopefully we’ve progressed to where it is also irrelevant.

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