Schieffer Hands Over The Anchor Desk

couric schiefer
Before Bob Schieffer had the grand slam of Washington reporting jobs — working every beat inside the Beltway — before he started covering presidential conventions in 1972 and every one since, before he walked the White House grounds with the most powerful leader in the world, he covered a par two, 18th hole.

"Bob Schieffer, CBS News, at the National Put-Put Championship," he signed off that evening.

Back then, management didn't see Schieffer as anchor material. But he became the one CBS turned to in one of its darkest hours.

"Good evening, I'm Bob Schieffer. And tonight, we turn a page at CBS News," he said during his first broadcast as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

When Dan Rather stepped down 18 months ago following the National Guard document scandal, Schieffer, at age 68, became only the fourth solo anchor of the program.

Katie Couric, who becomes the anchor Sept. 5, spoke with Schieffer about the tough job he faced.

Watch an extended version of the interview.
"You really came in as the replacement quarterback, at a pretty difficult time for CBS News. It really was a difficult chapter," Couric said to her predecessor.

Schieffer agreed. "We were in a very hard place, Katie, a very hard place. And I said on the first broadcast, the first thing we have to do is get our credibility back."

And how does it feel to get so much attention and acclaim so late in his life?

"You want me to tell you a secret? I've really enjoyed it," Schieffer said.

Schieffer spoke about his transition with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. Among other things, they chatted about Schieffer's aspirations to be a songwriter! Bob also donned a cowboy that Early Show staffers got him. To watch that interview, click here.

Schieffer has been at CBS since he was 32, but started dressing for the job in the ninth grade, when he was occasionally seen wearing a bow tie. But he dropped the bow tie to become a beat reporter, covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and later, covering the Vietnam War for his hometown paper.

"Personally, I'm thrilled to death. I'm a newspaper reporter and this is the name of the game," Schieffer explained back then.

Some 2,000 interviews later, he still sounds a lot like that 26-year-old newspaper man: "We need to go and find out what happened and tell people about it in a language they understand. And when we've done that, it can be a noble thing."

If he seems to keep it all in perspective, it's because he has some. Three years ago, Schieffer was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He didn't know if he'd be able to return to a job. He never imagined it would be the one he got.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world that I got a chance to do, as an adult, what I wanted to do as a young person. I've had a wonderful, wonderful life, and it's a longer life than I probably deserved and frankly, that even I thought I would have. And I just hope I can make good use of the next chapter and the next days," Schieffer said.

And he credits his family for helping him on his incredible journey.

Schieffer noted, "I'm the product of many things and many people. I don't buy into this 'self-made man' business. From my mom and my wife, and my daughters, I've really learned from them. In the end, they helped and made me what I got to be."