First airing in January 2002, and originally called Now with Bill Moyers, the program was launched as a collaboration between NPR news and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The program featured documentary reporting, interviews and commentary on current events. Bill Moyers served initially as sole host of the program while NPR reporters and commentators produced individual segments for the hour long-program.
In the autumn of 2003, David Brancaccio was introduced as a co-host. In 2004, Kenneth Tomlinson, the Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, paid an outside consultant $14,000 to watch NOW with Bill Moyers and analyze the politics of the show. The study was not approved by the CPB. After the study became public in 2005, the CPB-funded NPR, among other organizations, criticized the resulting study as being full of errors and a waste of money.
In the summer of 2004 the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced that it would no longer provide funding for Now. Moyers subsequently announced that he would leave the show after the 2004 U.S. elections and appeared for the last time on December 17, 2004. After his departure, the show was reduced to a half hour.
Maria Hinojosa was credited as a senior correspondent for the show while presenting many investigative pieces. She and Brancaccio were the only two presenters and usually alternated segments.