Appalled Schieffer Blasts ‘Vulgar’ and ‘Rude’ Brewer: ‘We’re a Better People Than This’

A question we’ve never posed and likely no one outside of CBS News has ever considered: “We wondered what Bob Schieffer thinks of all of this?” Yet that’s how CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Thursday night cued up Schieffer to take up CBS air time to convey his personal disgust with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for supposedly failing to show the proper respect to President Barack Obama on the tarmac near Phoenix.

“This is just another sign of the growing incivility and really vulgarity of our modern American politics,” Schieffer declared, fretting “these campaigns have gotten so ugly and so nasty, that they’re now tarnishing the whole system.” He despaired it demonstrates “the coarseness of our culture in this age of social media.” Then he got personal in condemning Brewer as an historic embarrassment to the nation:

CBSEN-PelleySchieffer-2012-01-26-240.jpgI can never recall a President stepping off Air Force One, which is itself a symbol of the presidency in American democracy, and being subjected to such public rudeness. I think really we’re a better people than this little incident illustrates.

[UPDATE: Schieffer’s hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, which is hardly anti-Obama, didn’t follow Schieffer’s lead and instead held the President the most accountable. Heated exchange shows Obama’s testy side,” read the headline in the Friday, January 27 newspaper, above the subhead: “Critics say he’s unwilling to be second-guessed — or to see other points of view.”]

From the Thursday, January 26 CBS Evening News, the only broadcast network evening newscast to lead with Brewer (though ABC and NBC had full stories):

SCOTT PELLEY: We wondered what Bob Schieffer thinks of all of this? He’s our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation in Florida tonight. Bob, it seems like it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue but a question of how the office of the President is treated.

BOB SCHIEFFER, IN MIAMI (“WATSON ISLAND FL” ON SCREEN): Well, I think that’s right, Scott. I mean, this is just another sign of the growing incivility and really vulgarity of our modern American politics in campaigns. These campaigns have gotten so ugly and so nasty, that they’re now tarnishing the whole system. I think it also underlines, also, the coarseness of our culture in this age of social media, when it is so easy to say anything about anybody, and get no penalty for saying it.

But the thing that has always made our system so strong, Scott, is that whatever we have thought of the officeholder, we have held the offices themselves in high respect. We have respected the office. I’ve watched a lot of Presidents over the years, but I can never recall a President stepping off Air Force One, which is itself a symbol of the presidency in American democracy, and being subjected to such public rudeness. I think really we’re a better people than this little incident illustrates.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center