Today I had an opportunity to meet Bob Schieffer of CBS. It wasn’t part of my schedule and I found out about it when I reached the Cronkite School. He is one of the most respected names in broadcast journalism so I ran back to my apartment to put on some formal clothes. I felt honored because unlike other ASU students, who would hear him talking at Must See Monday, I had the chance to meet him in person in a small group.
To my surprise he was quite informal, exceptionally sharp and joyful. Schieffer has been visiting ASU but it is his first visit to the Cronkite School after it shifted to Downtown Phoenix.
He talked about three major things which I will share here:
On DC and Politics
‘DC is worst than any point in the last four years,’ and ‘it is not just government, it is the politics that is broken.’ Schieffer is one of the few journalists who covered all four major assignment in Washington: the White House, the Pentagon, United States Department of State, and United States Congress.
People don’t invite republicans and democrats to the same event because they do not sit with each other.
In his opinion there is nothing new about leaks and spying. Everyone spies on the US and the US spies on everybody except for Brits, Canadians, New Zealand and Australia (the FIVE EYES agreement).
Schieffer believes, in earlier times, that children learned ethics at home but we don’t live in the same world anymore. He says, ‘My stories were edited by three different people.’ He thinks in future journalists will be on their own and they might not have people to provide any kind of editorial and moral backing.
On JFK’s Assassination
He talked about his involvement in the coverage of JFK’s assassination and its aftermath. He recalled that he picked up the phone by chance when Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother called to his office, she looking for a ride to Dallas, and that he almost hung up the phone until he realized what was happening. is one advice to young journalists is ‘When phone rings, answer it.’
Still he couldn’t let the phone ring more than once.
He called it – weekend when America lost its innocence. In his opinion JFK’s assassination changed many things in America one of those things was the idea that the President of America was larger than life and invincible.
It also changed television news coverage and TV audiences. It was the first time television audiences saw how television news was gathered and television news viewership increased in America.
Talking about CBS reporters he mentioned that women journalists are covering hard core news like coverage of conflicts in Syria and Iran. It was non-existent when he first started working, ‘Now they are putting guys to shame,’ he told us.
Hina Ali, Twitter: @uzaam