The 2016 presidential contest is shaping up to be one of the most unusual elections that former “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer has ever seen.
“I’ve always said that every election is different,” Schieffer said wryly. “And this is the most different election I’ve been a part of.”
Schieffer, who announced his retirement from “Face the Nation” in April after a 46-year career at CBS News, offered remarks upon receiving the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. Schieffer was introduced by WTSP 10’s Dion Lim at Poynter’s Bowtie Ball, the inaugural fundraising gala marking Poynter’s 40th anniversary.
Schieffer sat down to talk with CBS’ Margaret Brennan, who asked Schieffer about the upcoming presidential election. Schieffer spoke about the various candidates shaping the upcoming contest, starting with Donald Trump. He encouraged news outlets to take the real estate mogul-turned presidential candidate seriously and noted that Trump has a chance to win the GOP nomination.
“We’re a long way from the nominating parties,” Schieffer said. “But I do think it’s conceivable.”
Schieffer also offered thoughts about the Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 election. Brennan asked the former “Face the Nation” host if the attention drawn by Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is justified.
“I think her campaign is in trouble,” Schieffer said.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be rescued, he added, but when a candidate announces that she’ll be holding “listening tours,” he said, people see through that.
“I find her campaign astonishingly inept,” Schieffer said.
When campaign staffers announce that they’re making their candidate more human, and they’re doing so because they ran a focus group, it comes across as fake.
“Well what could be more artificial?” he said. “You couldn’t take the money out in the backyard and set it afire in a bushel and spend more money than they’re spending.”
Schieffer concluded the evening by referring back to advice he once gave Lim on enjoying the craft of journalism.
“Never forget,” he said, “this is fun.”
Don’t worry about success, he added, pick out something you find interesting and fun and something that you can make a contribution to.
“I don’t know where journalism is going right now,” Schieffer said. “The whole communications world had been turned upside down. But you can’t have democracy as you know it unless you have information that you can compare to the government’s version of events. That is as crucial to our way of life and our way of government as the right to vote.”
“I don’t know if reporters are going to be working at websites or TV stations or at newspapers or newspapers that are printed on paper,” he concluded. “But we can’t have democracy without a free press.”