Sixty-year veteran reporter Bob Schieffer and the longtime host of “Face the Nation” discussed the inner workings of Washington in his keynote address “Political Outlook From a Political Insider” at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Wednesday.
He addressed the GAC the morning after President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress and took stock of “where we are in America.”
Schieffer said of the president’s speech, “It was like Donald Trump woke up yesterday and discovered he was president.”
Schieffer credited the speech with being coherent and not just about the president himself. He observed it was the first time Trump reached out for help beyond his base, did not attack his opponents or the press, and did not “feel sorry for himself.”
Leading up to the presidential election, Schieffer said, was a campaign like one never before seen in this country: “Money and a great war chest seemed to have no impact.”
He discussed the impact and influence of the “digital age,” noting that the technological revolution has changed the way news is delivered and it has changed the ways in which people are connected.
This has affected the society to the good in that we know more, he said, but added that, to our detriment, is that fact that all this flow of information is “poorly curated.”
“The nuts can all find each other now,” Schieffer said, and warned that that has impacted both our culture and our national security.
“We’ve seen a loss of faith in institutions—including the press—and in the government. We are a less patient society than we once were…and a ruder society than we were before.”
And, he says, the worst part of it all is what we have done to the electoral process.
“We have all but destroyed the electoral process. Negative (campaign) ads have taken such a toll that people no longer believe anything anyone says.
“We haven’t completely destroyed the system, but we have badly damaged it. We need to find a way to get our best and brightest interested in politics again.”