Happy 65th Birthday to Face the Nation

By A.J. Katz 

CBS News has been celebrating 65 years of Face the Nation all week. Having launched on Nov. 7, 1954, Face the Nation now happens to be the 8th-longest-running show in television history,

The first guest in program history was none other than Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

At the time, the senator was facing censure by the Senate for his controversial behavior in leading the charge in exposing alleged Communist sympathizers and espionage among the highest ranks of D.C. leadership.

Ted Koop, Washington news director for CBS, was the program’s first host that broadcast, but he was not the first full-time host. The first Face the Nation full-time host was the network’s bureau chief at the time Bill Shadel. Following Shadel would be Stuart Novins, Howard K. Smith, Paul Niven, Martin Agronsky, George Herman, Lesley Stahl, Bob Schieffer, John Dickerson, and now Margaret Brennan, whose first broadcast as Face the Nation moderator was Feb. 25, 2018.

“If you go back and read that transcript, there are so many echoes of where we are today,” says Brennan. “It’s a reminder that this program has always had to be a place for context, for listening to each other –which is something we don’t do very well these days– and for perspective.”

She added: “At 65 years old, we’re in our prime.”


Interestingly, John Dickerson‘s late mother, Nancy, was the associate producer on Face the Nation when it premiered.

But is 65 REALLY that many years? Former moderator Bob Schieffer isn’t so sure.

Here’s a note from CBS News president and senior ep Susan Zirinsky to staff, obtained by TVNewser:

In a business that changes dramatically within 60 seconds, it’s important we stop and take note of something that’s been with us for

65 years – “Face the Nation.”

On Nov. 7, 1954, CBS News launched “Face the Nation” to give Americans a unique view on the politicians and newsmakers who were guiding their fates.

Bill Shadel, then the CBS News DC bureau chief was the host.

The first guest? Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Imagine that.

“Face the Nation” is one of the longest running broadcasts in television history. It is so for a reason. It matters.

When the time of a news cycle lasts less than the time it takes to bang out a 280 character tweet, we need, America needs, a program like “Face the Nation” to add sense and sensibility to a sometimes senseless world. That’s what “Face the Nation” does – and does well.

It starts with the host – from Shadel, to Stuart Novins, to Howard K. Smith, to Paul Niven, to Martin Agronsky, to George Herman, to Lesley Stahl, to Bob Schieffer, to John Dickerson, and now,  Margaret Brennan – asking probing questions, the questions we all have. And it requires an army behind the scenes to make sure we’ve got the right guests and the show is produced well.

It’s because of those doing the job today and those that came before them that “Face the Nation” stands here marking its 65th birthday.

Take a moment and applaud your colleagues at “Face the Nation.”

Anchor Margaret Brennan, Executive Producer Mary Hager, Catherine Reynolds – senior producer, Allison Hawley – director,  Carol Joynt – booking producer, Jillian Hughes – Broadcast producer, Jake Miller – producer, Emily Tillett – digital producer, Elizabeth Campbell – associate producer, Kelsey Micklas – Assistant to MB/Broadcast associate, Shani Benezra – Broadcast associate, Richard Escobedo – Broadcast Associate, Olivia Rinaldi – Broadcast associate, Diara Newman – News associate, Laura Foran – tech manager, Michael Jackson – editor, Mark Betancourt –editor, David Bentley – editor, Brian Lapreziosa – graphics artist