Why in the world is Bob Schieffer retiring from CBS?
He’s still the sharpest knife in the network’s drawer. His political savvy and general news knowledge is unsurpassed by anybody in TV broadcasting.
Bob Schieffer is just too important to leave. So why is he?
Oh, that’s right. The man is 78 years old. He’s done about all there is to do in the television news business. Covered every story. Monitored every debate. Asked all the questions. Anchored all the newscasts.
Perhaps he just wants to finally put the D.C. Beltway in his rear view mirror and head home to Texas where he can stroll through fields of Blue Bonnets thinking up lyrics to country songs.
It also might be nice to travel abroad without a camera crew in tow and maybe come up with ideas for another book or two before the good Lord calls him home.
I’ve always admired Bob Schieffer for probably the same reasons you do; his incredible knowledge of history and politics and how he reports it on TV..not with the perceptible arrogance of a Dan Rather but with a respect for viewers and in language people understand. Aside from Charles Kuralt and Tom Brokaw, nobody has represented citizen Doug better than Bob Schieffer in asking the questions I want answers to; be they posed to pontiffs or peasants or presidents.
For some reason, Bob Schieffer has never been on CBS’s “A” list for anchoring the “Evening News”..although I hear that after Uncle Walter was forced into retirement in 1981 because of some idiotic network age limitation, Schieffer was 3rd on the list behind Roger Mudd and the eventual successor to the anchor throne; Dan Rather.
Ironic, then, that when Rather..who managed to take a number 1 broadcast into a the comfortable number 3 position with his stiff personality and staccato presentation, finally got himself fired by letting his bias show over the George W. Bush Air National Guard document fiasco, ..it was Schieffer the network called upon to calm the storm. Schieffer was 68 when he took over the reins..three years older than when Cronkite was forced out. It was understood that he would be interim anchor and Schieffer..being the gentleman he is and always has been, accepted that. What I didn’t understand then and don’t understand now is why the network didn’t just offer him the position straight out. He clearly saved the broadcast; restoring trust in a ship that was sinking with Rather at the helm. His ratings jumped,demonstrating that viewers appreciated the straight talking easy going Texan who’d been a familiar symbol of CBS integrity since the sixties. Plus, he loved doing it.
I particularly liked moments like this. When most anchors are afraid to break out of their stoic character and give a genuine reaction to a story, Bob Schieffer, never hid his feelings..be they sad or hilarious.
He should have had the job. But no, the network decided that NBC’s morning darling, Katie Couric, had the right stuff for evenings..so, after nearly a year and a half of grooming, she stepped into the CBS anchor chair with a five year 75 million dollar contract and Bob graciously gave it up. In fact, he was back to being a reporter on that same broadcast the next night and, of course, his duties as host of the award winning “Face The Nation.”
A lot of people were clamoring for interviews with Schieffer upon his departure from the anchor chair and, being Bob, he was busy granting most of them. So I wasn’t expecting anything when I sent him an e-mail saying pretty much what I’ve said above; that I’ve always admired his work..that I’ve considered him to be a class act and that he proved it once again with his gracious exit and his Southern Gentleman attitude toward Katie. I mentioned I was about to retire after 32 years in broadcasting and learned again from him on how to do it gracefully.
It was that very evening I received a reply and..doggonit..I swear I saved but can’t find it. Here, as best as I can recall was what Mr. Schieffer said: “Well, Doug, that’s about the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve just made my day. My best to you down the road. Bob.
A couple months later, I actually got to meet the man himself as he came to South Dakota as a recipient of the Al Neuharth Excellence award in Vermillion. It was at that ceremony, we discovered Schieffer’s “country side.” Here’s the story I did. I must say that as a country music writer and performer, Bob Schieffer is a tremendous newsman.