Bob Schieffer on the ‘Important Role’ the Sunday Shows Play in Midterm Election Coverage

By Alex Weprin Comment

Yesterday, we reported that the CBS Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation topped its competition in total viewers last week. TVNewser spoke to the program’s moderator, Bob Schieffer, about the win, the upcoming elections, and the role the Sunday shows play in this multi-platform world.

TVNewser: Bob, congratulations on Sunday, why do you think that the show resonated with viewers?

Bob Schieffer: We just try to stick right to the news, we are in the middle of a very important midterm election and we try to make every broadcast for the last month or so about that, we had quite a good panel [Sunday] we had Liz Cheney, and she really squared off against Howard Dean.

It was jut the kind of discussion we really like to have, it was kind of fun, but still it was very civil. It was interesting, every single person that was on the broadcast said to me, ‘thank you, I really enjoyed doing that.’ When you do that you feel like you have advanced the story a little bit.

TVNewser: “Meet the Press” and “This Week” both played host to U.S. Senate debates, with MTP hosting the candidates from Colorado and “This Week” the candidates from Delaware. The Delaware race has drawn some national attention, but do you think that most people outside of those states are really interested in watching those debates?

Bob Schieffer: That is a great question, and if I were you, I would ask me that question [laughs]. I think I am going to let “Meet the Press” and “This Week” program their programs, and I will do mine. I am not going to give them any advice on that.

TVNewser: What do you have planned for the final two shows before the elections November 2?

Bob Schieffer: The Sunday before election day we will have two Democrats and two Republicans, all of them officeholders. I don’t want to say who they are right now, but they will all be very influential in this election.

This weekend we are going to have Karl Rove, who is certainly a key player his year in the elections, and we will have [Maryland Congressman and DCCC chair] Chris Van Hollen, who is in charge of the house races for the Democrats. We are just trying to have on the key players in this election.

TVNewser:What do you expect to happen November 2?

Bob Schieffer: It is a very interesting election, and a very exciting one. nobody is quite sure what is going to happen. The wind seems to blowing the Republican way, as it always seems to do, the White House always has a hard time with midterms, but it looks like the Democrats may have a harder time than usual this time around.

TVNewser: In the middle of an off-election year, the Sunday shows can get lost in the larger TV news landscape, especially with the cable channels constantly talking politics. Do you think that elections like this reaffirm their importance to the national discourse?

Bob Schieffer: We are getting a lot of response from the [Oct. 10]  interview with  David Axelrod. It got amazing pickup and became part of the conversation for a whole week. When you pick up that paper on Monday morning and you see a lot of the headlines come off of the sunday shows, to me it reaffirms the part they play. These broadcasts, and they are the oldest broadcasts on television, “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation,” they change less than any other program on television, and yet they seem to still draw an audience and play an important part of the debate and conversation.

My good friend Tim Russert used to say that when they named him moderator of “Meet the Press” he felt like he had been named curator of a national treasure, and I kind of feel that way myself. I am proud of “Face the Nation” and I am proud of all the Sunday shows, I think they play a very important role.