THIS JUST IN by Bob Schieffer


What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV
Email this review


Behind-the-scenes glimpses of how the news is made, but nothing that hasn’t been said before.

Schieffer, the folksy Texan perhaps best known for his longstanding role as moderator of Face the Nation, apparently has a Forrest Gump–like ability to be on the spot of breaking news. Then a hometown reporter, he was sidelined by the political columnists when JFK arrived in Dallas in November 1963. He slept in on the morning of the 22nd, but when he heard the news that the president had been shot, “grabbed my black felt, snap-brim Dick Tracy hat and roared off in my two-seater Triumph TR-4 sports car” to the office, where he answered the phone, found himself talking to Lee Harvey Oswald’s estranged mother, and snagged an exclusive interview. Soon thereafter, he was in Mississippi tracking the civil-rights movement and dodging bullets fired by white-supremacist snipers; from there it was on to the big time, only to face in battle, many years later, the cost-cutting, news-hating suits at CBS, who saw to it that “producer Sandy Socolow’s old adage that ‘no one ever got fired for spending too much to cover the news’ was no longer operative.” Schieffer outlasted them and went on to chair Face the Nation, where he booked poets as well as pundits, scholars as well as scandalmongers. Telling us all this, he doesn’t deliver much he couldn’t say on TV, subtitle notwithstanding, except to get in a couple of zingers at the expense of the brass, recall the room-clearing eructations of Texas cops, and reveal that George McGovern once told a heckler to kiss his ass during the ’72 campaign. There’s not much bang for the buck here, and Schieffer’s tendency to dumb it down (“liberals who favor gun control . . . welcome the endless debate over guns because it is a proven way to raise money from their supporters”) is a constant distraction.

Not especially newsworthy, but perhaps of some interest to news junkies and students of the media. (16 pp. b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-14971-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2003