Bob Schieffer: ‘Whole Political World Was Struck’ by Obama’s Candidacy

Retiring Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer sat down with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz on Sunday’s MediaBuzz and did his best to excuse the media’s soft treatment of President Obama since he first ran for president.

Schieffer argued that “the whole political world was struck by this fella who sort of came out of nowhere with this very unusual name and when he won out in Iowa, I think people sat up and took notice.” 

Kurtz began by asking Schieffer if he “would agree looking back that the media gave Barack Obama an incredibly easy ride in 2008, and for much of his presidency?” After the CBS anchor falsely claimed that “the whole political world was struck” by Obama, Kurtz pushed back and insisted that it’s “the job of journalists to be skeptical of the young phenom.” 

Schieffer briefly conceded that perhaps the media “were not skeptical enough” before he tried to argue that the media have no role in shaping political campaigns: 

And I don't know, maybe we were not skeptical enough. It was a campaign. Howie, my feeling is, it is the role of the other -- of the opponents to make the campaign. I think as journalists, basically, what we do is we watch the campaign and we report what the two sides are doing. I think it is the politicians who make the campaign. 

It’s unfortunate given Schieffer’s retirement that he was unwilling to admit the role the media have in shaping a political campaign. Instead, the longtime CBS anchor seemed to steadfastly believe that he, like the rest of the media, simply “watch the campaign and we report what the two sides are doing. I think it is the politicians who make the campaign.”  

See relevant transcript below. 

Fox News’ MediaBuzz

May 31, 2015

HOWARD KURTZ: Many people in this country, as you know, think the three broadcast networks are too biased, too liberal. Would you agree looking back that the media gave Barack Obama an incredibly easy ride in 2008, and for much of his presidency? 

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I think, I think the whole political world was struck by this fella who sort of came out of nowhere with this very unusual name and when he won out in Iowa, I think people sat up and took notice. 

KURTZ: But isn't it the job journalists to be skeptical even of the young phenom? 

SCHIEFFER: Yeah, it is. It is. And I don't know, maybe we were not skeptical enough. It was a campaign. Howie, my feeling is, it is the role of the other -- of the opponents to make the campaign. I think as journalists, basically, what we do is we watch the campaign and we report what the two sides are doing. I think it is the politicians who make the campaign. 

KURTZ: But don't journalists have an adversarial role to play when you have a presidential candidate in the chair facing you -- 

SCHIEFFER: Sure. 

KURTZ: You want to be tough on that person? 

SCHIEFFER: Well, I think you want to get at the truth. What you're trying to do is find out who this person is and what he's about. I don't think that always has to be adversarial. 

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