Schieffer: ‘Don’t Be Rattled By Blogs, Don’t Be Scared By The Government’

The media’s exposure of the government’s mistakes doesn’t weaken the country, it strengthens it, and is “vital to a democracy.” Those were among the unprepared remarks made by current CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer last night in Manhattan during the annual awards dinner for the Deadline Club, New York’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter.

During a candid and wide-ranging speech (we were told he had no notes, as evidenced by an impromptu Henry Kissinger impression) Schieffer addressed the state of evening news in light of yesterday’s ABC announcement securing Charles Gibson as its nightly news anchor. “I think the ratings of all the evening news [networks] will go up,” Schieffer said, adding that the recent media coverage of desk shifts will “remind people evening news is there.”

Calling it a “crucial crossroads,” Schieffer affirmed the need for upholding standards amid uncertainty over a rapidly changing means of news delivery. “Who knows what medium people are going to rely on for news five years from now? … [But] the integrity of the reporter is not going to change.”

Schieffer also told an audience of predominantly print and television journalists to not let blogs “rattle us.” He said that there are three types of blogs: “straight blogs”; “partisan blogs”; and “totally irresponsible” blogs — those akin to people “who put viruses on your computer.” Journalists, he said, should “ignore that part of the blogosphere.”

In introducing Schieffer, Deadline Club president and New York Times business desk editor David Joachim said Schieffer “oozes gravitas,” to which Schieffer quipped that it made him sound like an old car engine.

Schieffer also joked about the opportunity to take over the Evening News desk, which he has anchored since March 10, 2005. “Basically, I was getting ready to retire. [Then I thought] I’ll stick around ’til I’m old enough to do 60 Minutes.”

^ photo by Jon Simon