(CBS 11) – During the early to mid-1950s, the United States was facing a world that was being ruled by communist regimes from Europe to Asia.
After World War II, communism started expanding rapidly in Eastern Europe and East Asia. The “red scare” as it was sometimes referred to, became an issue in American society and for some people who were perceived as communist sympathizers ran the risk of being unable to hold a job or worse, and at the least have their good name tarnished (comedian Lucille Ball went through the “red scare” herself due to one of her voter registration cards that indicate she was registered as a Communist but was later cleared of any suspicion).
Just as the CBS World News Roundup started on the CBS Radio Network as a result of hostilities in Europe, the weekly news interview shows came about as the world began to change after World War II and with the threat of communism toward the U.S.
On November 6, 1947, NBC launched the TV version of “Meet The Press” with moderator Martha Roundtree, after having started it on NBC Radio a few years earlier. At CBS, William S. Paley and Frank Stanton decided that they needed a weekly news public affairs show as well. The result was “Face The Nation” that premiered November 7, 1954.
The first host was Bill Shadel who held the job for a year. There have been ten hosts since 1954, including people such as Howard K. Smith (who later moved to ABC), George Herman, Lesley Stahl, and Bob Schieffer. The current moderator is Margaret Brennan, who had been CBS News covering Washington and was previously with CNBC and Bloomberg.
These shows (along with ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos) have played important roles over the years, including in times of crisis.
Enjoy this clip from the debut of Face The Nation with Minnesota Senator Joseph McCarthy.