Programs and Events
Bob Schieffer: Eyewitness to History by Michelle L. Carr, Education Section
Ken Howard, director of the North Carolina Museum of History, provided the welcom- ing remarks at the fifth annual North Carolina Museum of History Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series.
Named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Emmy Award–winning journalist Bob Schieffer entertained the audi- ence with stories garnered from his more than five decades of covering national affairs.
Amidst the laughter, Schieffer also had words of cau- tion for his audience. Expressing concern over the decline of local newspapers, the respected journalist advocated for the role of the independent press. He concluded by sharing advice from one of the most influential people in his life. Quoting his mother, he encouraged the audience to “Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.” During a follow-up question-and-answer session with John Drescher, Opinions and Solutions editor at the News & Observer , Schieffer reflected current events, ranging from the #MeToo movement to gun violence. He compared the students at Parkland High School in Florida to the Freedom Riders of the 1960s, noting the students’ decision to become involved in govern- ment at a time when most people are turning away from politics. When asked about his most memorable interview subject, Schieffer immediately replied that it was the American presidents, all of them. There is just some- thing special about interviewing the leader of our country, he explained. Schieffer has interviewed every American president since Richard Nixon and moder- ated three presidential debates. However, when pressed by Drescher, Schieffer admitted that his favorite inter- view was with President Gerald Ford because “he was just a regular guy.”
Vic Bell, foundation chair, Bob Schieffer, Mary Grady Bell, and Mary Grady Bell.
During a question-and-answer session with John Drescher, of the News & Observer , Bob Schieffer admitted that although he has interviewed every American president since Richard Nixon, his favorite was Gerald Ford because “he was just a regular guy.”
Returning to a topic he had visited earlier in the evening, Schieffer gave an impassioned plea on the importance of a free press. The role of politicians is to deliver a message, Schieffer observes, while the role of the press is to check what they say and find out if it’s true. For the legendary reporter,“That’s what makes our democracy work. That’s what makes us different.” Event sponsors included the North Carolina Museum of History Foundation, the News & Observer , Sloan Family Foundation, Goodnight Educational Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, Highwoods Properties, the Sherrill Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Frank A. Daniels Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth B. Howard, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Hoch Jr.
with a fellow reporter, Schieffer rushed to her home, and he interviewed her as they drove to Dallas. Despite a career that stretches nearly six decades and includes eight Emmy Awards, one of Schieffer’s proud- est journalistic achievements dates to his time at the Fort Worth newspaper and his experiences in Vietnam. The paper encouraged readers to write in with names of family that were serving and promised that their reporter would find them. Schieffer received 800 letters with the names of sons and daughters, husbands and children. Over a period of four months, he tracked down 220 of them. With a slight wobble in his voice, he recalled the intense emotions of the lonely service men and women when they met someone from home. Over the course of the evening, Schieffer shared insider stories about his illustrious career and his respected colleagues, including Helen Thomas, Dan Rather, and Charles Kuralt. In one incident, he disclosed how he helped Walter Cronkite scoop Barbara Walters’s “exclu- sive” interview with President Gerald Ford.
“We live in a very dangerous time, and America is more divided than any time since 1968,” declared noted journal- ist Bob Schieffer in front of a sold-out crowd of 600 people at the 2018 North Carolina Museum of History Founda- tion Distinguished Lecture Series held in the A. J. Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, on May 22. He should know. With 58 years as a reporter and 46 years at CBS News, the former moderator of Face the Nation numbers among the few journalists to cover all four major beats in the nation’s capital—the White House, the Penta- gon, the State Department, and Capitol Hill. There are few key political figures of the last half century that he hasn’t met or important government events he didn’t investigate. However, Schieffer’s first major brush with history came before he began working in Washington. Bob Schieffer was a young reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He recalled how a woman telephoned the newspaper’s offices seeking a ride to Dallas. She was Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. Along
Schieffer promised that if Texas Christian Uni- versity won the 2011 Rose Bowl, he would wear purple socks. His alma mater won the football game, and the broadcaster has proudly worn the school colors ever since.
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