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Face the Nation: My Favorite Stories from the First 50 Years of the Award-Winning News Broadcast Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 28, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Schieffer began moderating CBS's Face the Nation in 1991. In the 50 years since the Sunday series' November 7, 1954, debut, 4,862 key newsmakers have appeared on 2,450 broadcasts. For this work, Schieffer interviewed broadcasting notables (Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, etc.) and drew on the resources of the CBS News Library, sifting through press releases, newspaper clippings and show transcripts. He opens by recounting how CBS chief Frank Stanton and CBS founder William S. Paley teamed up to make the "Tiffany network" a broadcasting giant. Stanton, now 96, told Schieffer how he created Face the Nation to match NBC's Meet the Press: "We needed a broadcast where newsmakers could be questioned in a live setting. NBC had one and we didn't.... [W]e had the responsibility to provide one." Writing with warmth, wit and insight, Schieffer looks back at significant events and personalities—from the civil rights movement and Vietnam to anthrax and Iraq, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Bill Clinton's "Oval Office trysts," from the Pentagon Papers to the Pentagon on 9/11. His perspective expands beyond the confines of the TV studio to become a memoir of milestones in 20th-century history. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In a bid to compete with NBC's Meet the Press, CBS debuted Face the Nation in 1954 with a contentious interview with Senator Joe McCarthy the day before the Senate debate that condemned his virulent anti-Communist tactics. Schieffer, CBS News anchor and moderator of the award-winning Sunday-morning news show, marks its anniversary with a behind-the-scenes look at the major developments in broadcast news and American history in the last half-century. Schieffer details the stories behind the stories that appeared on the broadcast: getting the first American interview with a Soviet leader when Nikita Khrushchev agreed to appear in 1957; Ed Sullivan's bid to be taken seriously by the news division, nearly scooping his own network with an interview with Fidel Castro in 1957; the interview with NAACP head Roy Wilkins in 1958 after a long, slow recognition that the story of the civil rights movement was being neglected by the networks. Schieffer recounts the triumphs and missteps of the program, including the 1965 interview with Alabama governor George Wallace, who derailed the question-and-answer format, and the 1971 interview with Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, when interviewers failed to ask, even though he was prepared to answer, whether Nixon should have disclosed the Pentagon Papers. A fascinating look at how the nation and the show have evolved over 50 years. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Amazon is also combining the hardcover and audiobook reviews.
The 50th anniversary book covers the following topics: McCarthy and the Red Scare, Krushchev the "big scoop," "Castro day on CBS," Civil Rights, Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers, women on FTN, presidential campaigns, Clinton's impeachment, 9/11, and the war in Iraq. The second part includes select "final thoughts" by Schieffer my favorite being on Prince Charles: "So why is this cause to celebrate? Because he's their prince, not ours" (p. 197). The third section is a brief look at the moderators and producers of FTN through the decades. In the back are statistics listing guests with the most appearances and the longest span of appearances. Part 1, the meat of the book, is only 179 pages of the short 227-page book, so the topics are discussed only briefly. Still, there are some interesting stories.
I am more interested in the Cold War-era topics so the following highlights are mostly from the older broadcasts. On McCarthy, Schieffer explains how blacklists publications like Aware and Red Channels influenced CBS's hiring process (p. 19). One story I have never heard before was that Ed Sullivan wanted to be a respected news journalist and hoped that interviewing Castro (the same day as FTN's interview with the Cuban dictator) would help him be taken seriously in that department by Edward R. Murrow. Sullivan was so impressed by Castro that he donated a 10,000 check to the dictator (Sullivan was soon persuaded to put a stop on the check) (p. 43). Another highlight was the Vietnam chapter and how a long parade of government officials interviewed misled the public (either out of ignorance or intentional deception) as to America's progress in southeast Asia. In more recent news, Schieffer humorously describes Al Gore's attempt to seem more down-to-earth on FTN by being interviewed in a vegetable market in casual, farmer garb. Schieffer points out that the soles of Gore's boots were clean as a whistle (p. 124). The book is a quick read through the main news items in the second half of the 20th century. It includes many photos.
The DVD shows shorts clips of the following: McCarthy, Krushchev, Castro, Roy Wilkens, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Dean Rusk, Melvin Laird, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, candidates McGovern, Dukakis, Perot, Dole, Gore, McCain, Edwards, Dean, and Kerry. On the Clinton story are Clinton's lawyer Bob Bennett and Monica's lawyer William Ginsburg among others and discussing 9/11 are Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. Members of the CBS news team cover the Iraq war and Schieffer offers a final thought. I was a little disappointed that the DVD did not offer more of the early interviews than the shorts clips I saw on television promoting the book. Still it is 2 hours long and adds a star to the score. It greatly enhances the book to see some of these interviews in the flesh.
As a result, this book will be most appealing to those who want to take one more look at McCarthy, Khrushchev, the early Castro, civil rights activism in the 60s, Vietnam, Pentagon papers, women in politics and journalism, Presidential primaries, Clinton v. Starr, domestic terrorism and the second Iraq war. The book is illustrated with many powerful and memorable photographs. In addition, the book comes with a 2 hours DVD which I have not watched (because I don't have a DVD player).
The book also has a brief section on the people who have worked on and for Face the Nation and a few of Bob Schieffer's commentaries.
I mainly read this book because I have great admiration for Bob Schieffer as a newsman and as a person. He is one of a handful of people in the business who seems to keep it all in perspective and takes a balanced view.
Unfortunately, the heyday of political interview shows was over a long time ago. Looking at the list of who the most frequent guests have been (Bob Dole, John McCain, Leon Panetta, Orrin Hatch, Joe Biden, Pat Buchanan, Joe Lieberman and Trent Lott lead the list), I can see why. I cannot imagine what the subject would have to be before I would have wanted to watch a show in which they were interviewed in depth. As a result, I haven't watched Face the Nation in decades . . . and probably won't watch it again. It's a sad commentary on the political arena and news coverage in general for me to draw that conclusion. I think that sense of the irrelevance of the show colors my four stars rating of the book.
On the other hand, Bob Schieffer is a five-stars person and I hope the book does well for him.
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