Is Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s campaign strategy “demeaning to women?” Yes, according to CBS’s Bob Schieffer, because the McCain camp is selective about when and where GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin makes media appearances
Schieffer, the host of CBS’s Sunday morning public affairs program, “Face the Nation,” appeared at Politics & Prose, a bookstore in
Schieffer, who is scheduled to moderate the last presidential debate between Obama and McCain, on October 15th, called it the McCain campaign’s “obligation” to make Alaska Gov. Palin available to the press. He criticized the McCain campaign for not breaking her onto the media scene as rapidly as some might like. Schieffer suggested Palin’s gender may even be playing a role in the campaign’s strategy.
“Some in the McCain campaign are saying that we are holding her to a double standard,” Schieffer said. “I think it is demeaning to women and demeaning to her not to let her come out and hold a news conference like any other candidate would hold. I actually think she will, but I think they need to get on with it.”
Schieffer, 71, has been an employee of CBS News since 1969. He commented on the uncertainty of the future of journalism, including what may lie ahead for the print edition of newspapers.
“This technological revolution that we’re going through now in journalism – we don’t know where it’s going to end,” Schieffer said. “Five years from now, are there going to be newspapers? I hope to goodness that there are because I’m one of those who grew up reading newspapers. I wouldn’t know how to start my day if I didn’t read the newspaper.”
Schieffer told the audience he wasn’t sure whether or not if there’d still be the print edition of newspapers in five years, if it would all be downloaded to an electronic device, like an iPod, but he was certain there’d always be the need for the mainstream media.
“What we do know is there will always be a need in a democracy for accurate information,” Schieffer said. “There will always be a need for reporters and there will always be a need for the kind of journalism that I like to think I practice and that is the mainstream journalism where when we report a story, we may get it wrong from time to time, but it’s based on some fact.”
Schieffer used an Internet rumor concerning Palin’s daughters as example of how the unregulated blogosphere was being used as a conduit for spreading unsubstantiated stories.
“We are living now in a world we have never dealt with before and it’s changed everything from the way politicians run for office, from the way we report raw news and I’ll just give you an example of that,” Schieffer said. “And, that is in this blogosphere – you know there were all these stories going around on the Internet going about Sarah Palin. Now the press is getting a lot of heat for bringing this up.”
However, Schieffer absolved the mainstream press – specifically the broadcast networks, the cable news channels and the “big” newspapers – of not propagating the rumors the McCain campaign had to later issue a statement refuting.
“We didn’t bring it up,” Schieffer said. “We never wrote a word about any of this – about these rumors about Sarah Palin’s daughter that wasn’t really her daughter and all that kind of thing. We never wrote a word about any of that. Nobody at any of the networks, any of the cable companies, at any of the big newspapers until the McCain campaign put out a statement and said that Sarah Palin’s daughter was pregnant and that she was making this public because she was trying to put down these vicious rumors that were going around on the blogs.”
“Now that doesn’t mean while we never wrote a word about it that we weren’t checking on it,” Schieffer added. “Obviously as a journalist when you get a tip on a news story, you have to check it out. The only way you can check it out is to ask questions and investigate. But I take it as a little bit unfair to criticize the press for the questions we ask. What we should be held responsible for is what we write and what we report, but that is just an example of what we are dealing with here.”
Despite Schieffer’s network having been embroiled in a controversy during the last presidential cycle – where documents that were critical of President George W. Bush’s National Guard service turned out to be forgeries, as pointed out in the blogosphere, he said he wasn’t intending “knock down blogs.” He was just intending on criticizing the standards some blogs aren’t held to.
“You know the worst newspaper in the world has one person who’s the editor who knows where the stuff came from – it’s in that newspaper,” Schieffer added. “Stuff pops up on these blogs and you don’t know where it came from.”