Outgoing Bob Schieffer Comments on Changes in Media Industry; Says, ‘We Don’t Know Where People Get Their News’ Today


The legendary Bob Schieffer is calling it a career Sunday as he hosts his last “Face the Nation.”

Schieffer joined CBS News in 1969 and in that span he covered the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Capitol Hill, anchored the “CBS Evening News,” and hosted “Face the Nation” the past 24 years.

Washington has changed dramatically when he began covering the nation’s capital. Schieffer told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that the “revolution in communications” has turned D.C. “upside-down.”

“We now don’t know where people get their news, but what we do know is they’re bombarded with information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the information is wrong and some of it is wrong on purpose,” Schieffer said. “It is our job, I think, in mainstream journalism to try to cut through this mall of information and tell people what we think is relevant in what they need to know. That is the job of the journalist and I have to say it’s harder and harder.”

Schieffer also touched on the influx of money changing the way the government and campaigns are run.

“I mean our campaigns have become, ‘I have more billionaires than you do so I’m a viable candidate.’ I don’t think that’s what the founders had in mind when they started this country,” he told “CBS This Morning.” “I don’t know where this goes, but I think something is going to have to change on that front because what we have now is people have to sign up with so many special interests before they get to Washington, that once they’re here they can’t compromise. And when you have a government and a legislative body that can’t compromise, you have what we have — a legislative body that’s in constant and total gridlock.”

Schieffer echoed similar comments during an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, saying he’s disturbed by the changes he’s seen in Washington. It’s a meaner place, he said, partially fueled by Internet anonymity but also by a lack of collegiality. Lawmakers of all stripes and their families used to know each other better but now spend more time in their districts and less time in the capital. Some families never move.

It has led to an inability to get things done that Schieffer says is a greater danger to the country’s future than terrorism.

“It has changed the people who run for office now,” he said. “I don’t mean they’re bad people, but they’re different. They have to raise so much money, they have to sign off with so many interest groups to get here that once they’re here they can’t compromise their positions. Their positions are set in stone.”

Seeing the nation’s leaders up close leads him to conclude, “Some of ’em I like better than others, some of ’em I respect and some of ’em I don’t. I still think most of the people in government are good people, but there are some exceptions.”

Schieffer explained to “CBS This Morning” that his retirement “was a calculated decision.”

“I wanted, number one, to be able to walk away from this job when people still thought I could do it. I’ve just seen too many people here in Washington that they hang around and hang around and then somebody has to come and get them by the hand and say, ‘C’mon, old fella. It’s time to get in your car and go back home. I just didn’t want to do that,” Schieffer said, adding that he wanted to give new “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson time to settle in before the presidential campaign year begins.

Schieffer says what he’s going to miss the most is “being in the middle of things.”

“I kind of been in the middle of things for a long time now. I’ve had access to the people who make the news, who have an impact with their actions on the rest of us in this country, and I just never got over that,” he told “CBS This Morning.” “That’s the reason why I wanted to be a reporter. I always got a big kick out of being able to go behind police lines where other people couldn’t go, talking to these people who made the news. I guess I have to say that’s the part I’m going to miss the most.”


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