Keeper of the Flame
Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer waxed nostalgic last week after learning that the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation had named him this year’s winner of the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award.
Speaking with B&C about the award, which is named after the magazine’s late senior Washington correspondent, Schieffer noted that his mentor at CBS, Eric Sevareid, had always said that freedom of the press was the most important of the freedoms: Without it, we could not defend the others.
But Schieffer has more in common with Sevareid than a respect for constitutional protections. When Schieffer returned to D.C. after his “interim” stint anchoring the CBS Evening News, he inherited Sevareid’s old office.
“It was very meaningful to me that they gave me this office,” he said. “It is also a testament to how long I have been around that nobody but me remembered that this was Eric Sevareid’s office.”
Time and attrition have been contributing factors to that institutional memory loss. “I am the only person in the Washington bureau left from when I came here in 1969,” says Schieffer, who’ll be 71 next month. “All the rest of them have gone, one place or another. We had 26 correspondents in those days. Now we have eight or nine.”