My Favorite Presidential Interview

Richard M. Nixon AP (file)

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.


I have interviewed all the men who have served as President since Richard Nixon and when I interviewed President Bush the other day, people asked what they always do. Which was your favorite interview. They were surprised -- and this is no reflection on any of them -- but I still have to say my very first Presidential encounter.

It was 1969, Nixon had just come to office and I was a rookie reporter in the CBS News Washington Bureau covering such prestigious assignments as the birth of the Washington Zoo's new tiger cub and the National Miniature Golf Championship.

I had just signed that one off when my Mother called and demanded to know "when I was going to cover some real news." I explained I was not yet allowed to make my own assignments but to my relief -- my mother was a formidable woman -- I was sent the next Sunday morning to cover a White House Reception for the President's supporters.

It was such a minor affair, that Helen Thomas of UPI and I were the only reporters there. A receiving line was set up and when no one told us to stop, Helen and I just got in the line.

There was a story going round that the President was bringing in new advisors and when it came my turn to shake his hand I said,

"Mr. President will these be outside people or in-house advisors.?"

"Oh no," he said, "these will be outhouse advisors," and then realizing what he had said, added, "uh, well, you know what I mean," and wandered off into the crowd.

Not many would even call that an interview and we did no story about it. But when I told my Mother, she thought it was a great question.



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By Bob Schieffer
  • Patrick Kiker

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