The day President Kennedy was assassinated, Bob Schieffer — the future veteran CBS newsman — was still just a young newspaper reporter in Texas. But he got closer to that day’s events than he ever would have imagined.
In a Morning Edition interview with NPR’s Bob Edwards, Schieffer describes his first major encounter with history. A woman called into the offices of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where Schieffer was a young reporter. She was looking for a ride to Dallas.
“I said, ‘Lady, this is not the taxi service and, besides, the president has been shot.’ And she says, ‘Yes, I heard it on the radio. My son is the one that they have arrested.” So Schieffer and a fellow reporter rushed to the home of Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother and Schieffer interviewed her as they drove her to Dallas.
That’s just one of the stories in Schieffer’s new book, This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV.
A few years later, he covered the Vietnam War for the same Texas newspaper. Carrying letters from parents, Schieffer tracked down young soldiers from the Fort Worth area who were stationed in Vietnam. “They were very lonely and I remember very well walking up to one tough young Marine in full battle gear and I said, ‘I’m from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and your mom asked me to come over and see how you were.’ And he just broke down into sobs.”
After anchoring the news at a television station in Dallas/Fort Worth, Schieffer joined CBS News in 1969. He went to work in the network’s Washington bureau, which was populated by legends and legends-to-be, including Eric Sevareid, Dan Rather and Roger Mudd. “I’ll never forget the day I walked in there. It was like a little leaguer suddenly being called to pinch-hit for Mickey Mantle in Yankee Stadium.”
Schieffer, now CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent, has covered the White House, Pentagon and State Department, but he says Capitol Hill is his favorite beat. “The best thing about the Congress is that it is the last place where you can have face-to-face interviews and interaction with the newsmakers themselves,” says Schieffer, who hosts the Sunday talk show, Face the Nation.