Called "one of the last bastions of serious journalism on TV" by the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, the series occupies a unique place in the American television landscape. For three seasons the broadcast has been led by Bill Moyers. At the helm in 2005 is veteran journalist David Brancaccio, who joined NOW in fall 2003 after a decade as host of public radio's MARKETPLACE.
"What do the policies set in Washington and state capitols mean for working Americans? It may be a sound-bite society, but there are real-world consequences and Americans are grappling with them everyday," says Brancaccio, whose work has been honored with a duPont-Columbia University Award and a George Foster Peabody Award. "Each week, we're on the ground at the nexus where the policies meet the people with intelligent reporting and thoughtful analysis."
The vulnerability of chemical facilities to terrorist attack, campaign finance, the future of intellectual property, public education, the environment, and America's relationship with the world have been the focus of NOW's exhaustive reportage. In an important post-election year, NOW will compare the promises to the reality â€” the state of national security, the erosion of jobs, the rising cost of health care, the problems with retirement, and the quality and availability of child care.
Through documentary segments and interviews with original thinkers, NOW goes beyond the noisy churn of the news cycle and gives viewers the context to explore their relationship with the larger world. In an era where commercial values in journalism risk overwhelming democratic values and corporate interests can prevail over the public interest, NOW continues to stand apart as what THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR called the "one program going against the grain."
Should telecommunication companies receive retroactive immunity for their role in helping the government eavesdrop on American phone calls and e-mails? As Congress and President Bush duel over the answer to that question, NOW on PBS interviews a whistleblower with exclusive insight into the role played by one of those companies.
Klein tells David Brancaccio about the "secret room" set up by the National Security Agency inside his AT&T office in San Francisco. He also describes in remarkable detail—with documents to back him up—how wires were split and extra equipment was brought in to essentially suck up and store emails from all over the country. Klein claims this activity is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet the White House continues to press Congress not only for authorization to continue surveillance but also for legal immunity for cooperating telecom companies.
Why is a chemical banned in toys sold in Europe still showing up in the United States?
Corporations are running many Americans prisons, but will they put profits before prisoners?
A grim new statistic: One in every hundred Americans is now locked behind bars. As the prison population grows faster than the government can build prisons, private companies see an opportunity for profit.
This week, NOW on PBS investigates the government's trend to outsource prisons and prisoners to the private sector. Critics accuse private prisons of standing in the way of sentencing reform and sacrificing public safety to maximize profits.
"The notion that a corporation making a profit off this practice is more important to us than public safety or the human rights of prisoners is outrageous," Judy Greene, a criminal policy analyst, tells NOW on PBS.
Companies like Corrections Corporation of America say they're doing their part to solve the problem of inmate overflow and a shortage of beds without sacrificing safety.
"You don't cut corners to where it's going to be a safety, security or health issue," Richard Smelser, warden of the Crowley Correctional Facility in Colorado tells NOW. The prison is run by Corrections Corporation, which had revenues of over $1.4 billion last year.
The Crowley prison made headlines back in 2004 after a major prison riot caused overwhelmed staff to run away from the facility. Outside law enforcement had to come in to put down the uprising.
"The problems that were identified in the wake of the riot are typical of the private prison industry and happen over and over again," Green tells NOW.
This week NOW travels to Colorado, where the controversy over private prisons is boiling over. The hot question: should incarceration be incorporated?
Two high-level industry insiders tell us what was going on inside the Wall Street firms that once generated billions in profits.