Q&A With Bob Schieffer: “Building A Bench” At CBS, Three Correspondents At A Time

By Brian 

CBS News is building a bench, and it’s evident in today’s promotions of Lara Logan to chief foreign correspondent, Byron Pitts to national correspondent and Jim Axelrod to chief White House correspondent.

“One of the the things we’ve been doing over the last year, since I got here, well almost a year, is trying to identify the people who are going to play a major role at CBS News,” CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer told TVNewser this afternoon.

When I asked about “building a bench” — something that Sean McManus stressed at TCA press tour — Schieffer saw similarities in his arrival at CBS in 1969.

“You know, when I came to CBS — well let me tell you what the Washington bureau was like when I got there. Dan Rather was the White House correspondent. Roger Mudd covered Capitol Hill. Marvin Kalb covered the State Department. Daniel Schorr covered general assignments. And Eric Severeid did the commentary. Now those are heavy hitters.”

At the time, Huntley & Brinkley and NBC News ruled network news. “And Dick Salant said, ‘We’re going to beat them with our team.’ And that’s what we’re doing.”

Schieffer said Logan, Pitts and Axelrod will play major roles on the network. “When a big story happens overseas, Lara will be there. And it’s kind of the same for Byron, on stories in this country. And then Axelrod will be at the White House,” he said.

The three correspondents, along with others like Trish Regan, Sheryl Atkisson, Gloria Borger, and David Martin, are “people you’re going to see more and more on CBS,” he added.

Schieffer raved about Logan and said “this woman is the next Barbara Walters.”

“I can’t think of any other 34-year-old chief foreign correspondents,” I remarked. “No, and we’ve never had a Lara Logan before,” he replied.

A few moments before, he had remarked: “She’s a kid — well, everybody looks like a kid to me…She’s a kid and yet she’s part of the old school. She’s been there.”

The final part of that sentiment — “she’s been there” — is true for Axelrod and Pitts, as well. (Just read their bios.)

“These are three very old-fashioned reporters,” Schieffer said, “in the sense that there’s still in the kind of reporters who think the best way to do it is go to the scene, ask people what the story is, and then tell people about it.”