June 2, 2015

Schieffer to retire from CBS this summer

After 58 years as a reporter, namesake of College of Communication will leave network and “Face the Nation” at the end of May.

Bob Schieffer at the Schieffer Symposium

Bob Schieffer '59 announced at the end of the 12th annual Schieffer Symposium on the News that he will retire from CBS at the end of May. (Photography by Glen E. Ellman)

June 2, 2015

Schieffer to retire from CBS this summer

After 58 years as a reporter, namesake of College of Communication will leave network and “Face the Nation” at the end of May.

Bob Schieffer ’59, anchor of CBS News’ Face the Nation and a familiar face to millions of Americans through nearly half a century as a journalist with the television network, announced at his annual Schieffer Symposium last night that he will retire at the end of May.

Schieffer, 78, who has interviewed every president since Richard Nixon, is in his 24th year of anchoring the network’s Sunday morning news program. Face the Nation celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. He has been with CBS for 46 years.

“Because that was where it all started for me, I wanted this to be the place, and I wanted you all to be the first to know that this summer I’m going to retire,” he said at the close of the symposium to a crowd of about 1,200 in Ed Landreth Auditorium.

“It’s been a great adventure,” he said. “You know, I’m one of the luckiest people in the world because as a little boy, as a young reporter, I always wanted to be a journalist, and I got to do that. And not many people get to do that, and I couldn’t have asked for a better life or something that was more fun and more fulfilling.”

Afterward, Schieffer tweeted after the announcement: ”Great talking journalism at @TCU tonight. Also really happy to be in my hometown, where it all started, to announce my retirement.”

TCU named the School of Journalism in his honor in 2005 at the first Schieffer Symposium, and in 2013, the College of Communication took the Schieffer name.

Schieffer said he plans to take the summer off to travel and to think about his future.  

“Mainly, I just want to rest a little bit,” he told TCU360.  “Most people retire at 65, and after I was 65, I moderated three presidential campaigns, wrote three books, and anchored the evening news for two years.”

Indeed, his career is among the most decorated by any American journalist. He has interviewed every president since Richard Nixon as well as most of those who sought the office. He has also moderated three debates for the Presidential Commission on Debates in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

He has covered all of the major journalism beats in Washington over his career: Pentagon, White House, Congress and State Department. He became the network’s chief Washington correspondent in 1982 and was named the anchor and moderator of Face the Nation, CBS News’ Sunday public affairs broadcast, in 1991.

He counts the Kennedy assassination, Vietnan War, Watergate and 9-11 terror attacks among the most notable stories of his lifetime.

“He’s been an inspiration and a mentor to so many colleagues– and frankly, to me,” CBS News President David Rhodes announced through the network Wednesday night. “You could see at TCU tonight how that inspiration extends to a wider community of reporters and editors and academics,”

Prior to joining CBS in 1969, Schieffer was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram where he was the first reporter from a Texas newspaper to report from Vietnam. Before that, he started in journalism at Fort Worth radio station KXOL when he was just a TCU sophomore covering the night time police beat.

Schieffer has gone on to win numerous awards in broadcast journalism, including eight Emmys, the overseas Press Club Award, the Paul White Award presented by the TV News Directors Association, the Edward R. Murrow Award given by Murrow’s alma mater Washington State University.

In 2008, Schieffer was named a living legend by the Library of Congress. In 2013, he was inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame along with CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, actor Ron Howard, sportscaster Al Michaels and writer/producer Dick Wolf.

Schieffer also received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Writing from the Radio Television Digital News Association in the Network Radio and Television category for a CBS Radio News commentary about “the ghost of Congress future.”

“Face the Nation” was the highest rated Sunday talk show in 2014 for the third consecutive year and the broadcast won an Emmy for its show covering the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in 2013.

In his announcement Wednesday, Schieffer said the 2005 re-naming of the TCU School of Journalism was the honor that has meant the most to him.

“I’m so proud of where the journalism school and the college have come these last 11 years,” he said. “When they asked me about putting my name on the journalism school, I said I would be greatly honored to do that but I only want to do it if you want to take this to another level. I said, ‘We must strive to be the best in the country.’ ”

Schieffer thanked several people who helped advance his career: Phil Record, an editor at the Star-Telegram; the paper’s editor, Jack Butler; and CBS colleagues Bill Small, Richard Salant, Sean McManus, Jeff Fager, Moonves and Rhodes. He called “Face the Nation” Executive Producer Mary Hager his “equal partner” in his career and the person to whom he feels the most indebted.

“I’ve never believed much in the self-made man theory; I think we all need a little help and I had a lot of help along the way,” he said.

Schieffer said that one of the factors behind his decision to retire now is his pride in CBS News’ current footing.

“We, like any large organization, we have had our ups and downs; we’re on a high right now,” he said, praising the commitment to hard news and foreign reporting across the network. “Face the Nation, I think, is better than it has ever been.”

Schieffer anchored the Saturday edition of the “CBS Evening News” for 23 years. In March 2005, with the departure of Dan Rather, Schieffer served as interim anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” until August 2006 – a period that saw a substantial increase in ratings.

Schieffer has written four books: The New York Times bestsellers “This Just in” and “Bob Schieffer’s America” as well as “Face The Nation: My Favorite Stories from the First 50 Years of the Award-winning News Broadcast” and “The Acting President.”

He was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in Fort Worth where he graduated from North Side High School. He also served three years in the U.S. Air Force.

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1 Comment

  1. Watching “Face the Nation” on Sundays and getting a kick out of the fact of my shared Frog heritage with the moderator were a regular activity for me. However, I was very disappointed in Bob Schieffer’s interview of Jeb Bush in the final show. Mr. Schieffer asked Bush what he had learned from W’s successes and mistakes. Mr. Shieffer let Jeb Bush get away with the response that his brother’s greatest success was in “protecting the homeland,” that we were under attack and he “kept us safe.” Mr. Schieffer failed to stand on the side of the facts and point out that the president actually failed on 9/11 in his duty to protect our citizens. Now we know that there were multiple intelligence reports seen by the president warning of an attack using airplanes on our soil. Once again a moderator on a politically themed program did not speak up for the truth.

    Meredith Lederman ’60

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