Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
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Bob Schieffer’s Secret Life

The face of Face the Nation and the namesake of TCU’s journalism school opens up.
By Cristina Daglas |

D: You’ve got quite the year of anniversaries coming up.

Schieffer: This will be our 10th Schieffer Symposium on April 9. We started it when TCU named the journalism school for me. I had Bob Woodward, Tom Friedman, and Jim Lehrer come down, and we all just sat there and talked about the news. People loved it. So we decided to make it an annual event. Since then, we’ve had everyone from Michael Eisner to Maureen Dowd to Joe Scarborough. Tim Russert came before he died. We’ve had both the editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times. We wanted to make it special this year, so I convinced Scott Pelley to bring the CBS Evening News to TCU. 

And you have big names, per usual.
Bob Woodward is the first person who’s ever returned. So he’s going to be on the panel, along with Scott, and then we’ll have Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal and Jane Pauley. The fact of the matter is, with so many women going into journalism now, they’re the heavy lifters. All these guys I used to work with, they became investment bankers or something.

They’re smart. They’re getting out.
[laughs] We’ve had women be a mainstay in the Washington bureau for a long time. But now, overseas, our front-line foreign correspondents, the people covering Iraq and Syria, they’re mostly all women. 

Why has it been so important for you to stay in touch with Texas and not just put your name on the school and be done with it? 
I’m from Texas, and I’ve always maintained the ties. I just love Fort Worth. And I love to come back to TCU. 

Watching the industry morph and twist, is this really something you’d wish on these kids? Is journalism a viable career option?
It’s the No. 1 question. We’re in the midst of this technological revolution, which has turned not just journalism but communications inside out and upside down. Journalism is changing, but it’s not dead. What I tell these students is, look, in a democracy, citizens have to have independently gathered information that they can compare to the government’s version of events, and that’s as crucial to a democracy as the right to vote. And because there is always going to be this need for accurate information, there’s going to be a need for reporters. The other part of it is, it’s just so much fun. I love it, and I’ve been a reporter for more than 50 years, with 45 years at CBS, which is kind of stunning. 

And Face the Nation is turning 60?
Yes, but I haven’t done it the entire 60 years. I’ve done it since 1991.

Do the politicians get tiresome?
Do you want the short answer? Yes.

And the long answer? 
The long answer is that for your own good, you should not come on these Sunday broadcasts unless you have something you want to say. It’s kind of in vogue in public relations now to say, give three answers no matter what they ask you. Well, that doesn’t work. And it especially doesn’t work on the Sunday shows, which are not about anchor antics and gotcha questions. It’s about trying to move the story forward. People say to me, “Do you ever get frustrated?” I don’t get frustrated. I want to reach across the table and slap them. But obviously I don’t think that would be a good thing. 

Probably not. Okay, one last question. What is Honky Tonk Confidential? 
That’s my band! It’s a group here in Washington. We’ve put out a little CD, and I write a lot of the songs. Behind this 77-year-old face that’s been wizened and wrinkled by too many nights staying up on the campaign trail, there’s actually a raging 25-year-old starving songwriter. It’s kind of my secret life.


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