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Bob Schieffer

  • American journalist
  • Born February 25, 1937

Bob Lloyd Schieffer (born February 25, 1937) is an American television journalist. He is known for his moderation of presidential debates, where he has been praised for his capability. Schieffer is one of the few journalists to have covered all four of the major Washington national assignments: the White House, the Pentagon, United States Department of State, and United States Congress. His career with CBS has almost exclusively dealt with national politics. He has interviewed every United States President since Richard Nixon, as well as most of those who sought the office.Schieffer has been with CBS News since 1969, serving as the anchor on the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News for 20 years, from 1976 to 1996, as well as the Chief Washington Correspondent from 1982 until 2015, and moderator of the Sunday public affairs show, Face the Nation, from 1991 until May 31, 2015.


The truth is the Super Bowl long ago became more than just a football game. It's part of our culture like turkey at Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and like those holidays beyond their meaning, a factor in our economy.




At the White House, everybody works for the same person. They're all part of the same company. But on Capitol Hill, they're all independent contractors. They all work for themselves. That's a formula for getting news.




It's getting the right person that's the challenge.




The Iraq war was fought by one-half of one percent of us. And unless we were part of that small group or had a relative who was, we went about our lives as usual most of the time: no draft, no new taxes, no changes. Not so for the small group who fought the war and their families.




And after about two years, I realized that creative writing was not going to help you ace those biological tests. So I switched over to journalism. I didn't graduate with honors, but I did graduate on time and with some doing.




But if you're going to go out on a military unit, you've got to allow yourself to be under the control of the commander because you really could put the troops in danger.




Obviously, if the commander makes certain decisions that the reporter thinks is inhibiting his right to report a legitimate story, he has to appeal to the commander's boss to get that changed.




American politics used to be an amateur sport. But somewhere along the way, we handed over to professionals all the things people used to do for free.




The best thing about the Congress is that it is the last place where you can have face-to-face interviews and interaction with the newsmakers themselves.




The government's view is that the best time to announce bad news, news that it doesn't want the public to dwell on is late on a Friday, when it will wind up in the Saturday papers, which if you were readers, then the week day editions. A holiday weekend is even better.




I had - all my life, everybody who knew me thought that I would probably grow up to be a reporter, a newspaper reporter because we didn't have much television in those days.




We now assume that when people turn on the evening news, they basically already know what the news is. They've heard it on the radio. They've seen it on the Internet. They've seen it on one of the cable companies. So that makes our job a bit different.




For sure, the American people have access to more information now than any other people who have ever lived on earth. And I think we do a pretty good job of sorting out what's important.




I want to try to talk like normal people talk, not just stand there and bark at the camera.




My job is to give everyone a chance to catch their breath and step back from all this and get back to work.




And as a result, I guess I'm just kind of a rubberneck. I'm kind of a - someone who likes to see things and likes to see these events and talk to the people who make them happen. But I don't think journalists are as important as the people they cover.




I think journalism is a great way to do public service, to have an impact on your community.




Had there been a reporter along with Lieutenant Calley when he massacred those people in Vietnam, I think that probably wouldn't have happened.




But the reporter has the responsibility to determine, number one, whether that is true, and number two, to make a judgment as to whether it's in the public interest and whether or not it should be part of the debate.




Once we get them in the studio, you interview a person the same way you would interview another. You ask them a question. You let them answer. You try to listen closely and then ask a follow-up.




And I came away from that experience, and it was a very difficult experience - I came to understand that you have to practice at being a good father and practice at being a good husband, just as you have to practice at being a good journalist.




In so many of the other beats these days, there are these layers of public relations people that you have to go through to get to the newsmakers themselves.




Any time you get into a presidential campaign and the stakes are so high, all candidates - they want to be in complete control whenever they can. And you can't blame them for that.




If you get asked a really tough question and you give a really good answer, you come off looking really good.




But here's the deal: If I were smart, I could figure out curling. If I were even smarter, I could figure out why people would actually watch other people doing it. I have tried. I can't. I can't even figure out the object of the game. Is it like darts? I just don't get it.




Well, you know, in any political campaign, you're gonna have people on one side that are gonna slip a reporter something because they think it'll hurt the guy on the other side.




We're far from perfect. It's a human enterprise.




My bladder cancer was related to smoking, and I think smoking kills people.




There's fierce competition between all the networks to get the guest who can bring the most pertinent information about whatever the story of the moment happens to be.




I mean, you know, God knows everything, but I'm not quite that good. Every once in a while, something will slip by me.




One thing young people have to always keep in mind when deciding what they want to do with their lives is, is it fun? Is it something that I'm interested in? Is it something I enjoy?




But if you don't enjoy doing something, you'll be miserable no matter how much money you make.




They've asked me to do this temporarily. I don't know what temporarily means. Life is temporary.




I always thought writing was the foundation and the basis for journalism in the same way being able to draw is the foundation for art.




I've had a lot of fun, and when I talk to kids in journalism schools, I say, look, I know what the journalism teachers tell you that this is a great way to perform public service and all that, but I say the main reason, if you decide what you want to do is be a reporter, the main reason you want to do it is because it's just so much fun.




I can't think of any other job in journalism where the newsmakers come to you.



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