Remember The Mary Tyler Moore Show on CBS and when someone asked WJM’s anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) about his career, he would start off in his radio voice with the sentence, “It all started at a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California.” Coincidentally, CBS News Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer did the same thing. But he wasn’t a Ted Baxter! He was and is a newsman for the ages.
Bob started his career at KXOL Radio in Fort Worth, a 5,000 watt Top 40 station at 1360AM, located at that time on East Lancaster. After graduating from TCU, he went to work at the Fort Worth Star Telegram where he became known for his famous phone call and interview in 1963 with Marguerite Oswald, mother of JFK’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Late he was the prime time news anchor on WBAP-TV Channel 5 (now KXAS)…”The Texas News”…. before he landed a job in Washington with CBS News in 1969.
At a dinner a few years ago in Fort Worth, Bob told the audience about his interview to join CBS News. When the executive assistant there called him to come back to meet the bureau chief, she just mentioned his first name and he went back for the interview. When it was over, there was another man sitting in the outer office and Bob thought, “well, he must be interviewing as well.” Turned out his name was Bob too…………..Bob Hager. So the assistant got her “Bob’s” mixed up! Schieffer got the CBS job but Bob Hager went to NBC News and had a fabulous career there as their aviation expert/correspondent. Funny how fate works!
To this day, nobody knows Washington better than Bob Schieffer. He was, among other things, CBS’s White House correspondent, overseas correspondent, weekend anchor and later main anchor of the CBS Evening News, and then host of Face The Nation. He asked tough questions but was always fair and polite. Never rude at any time. As he said last Sunday on his final broadcast of Face The Nation, for him it was about the newsmaker, not the reporter/anchor.
One of the things he said that made an impression on me was about the current state of journalism, in that what’s different today is how it is distributed and the quickness it is transmitted. But the one thing that has not changed was as a reporter, check your facts. Check them once, check them twice, check them a third time if necessary. The late Walter Cronkite used to ask a question of CBS News producers who came to him with a story….”how do you know this to be true?” If that person couldn’t answer that question properly, the story was dead. That has served me well in what I do for living too.
I had the honor and pleasure to meet Bob a couple of times on his trips to Fort Worth. The nicest, finest man you will ever meet.
Thank you, Bob, for everything!
See you next time.