Television Legend Bob Schieffer Details His New Book

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Over the past 14 years Americans have fallen in love with CBS newsman and "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer's closing commentary, entitled "Final Thoughts."

Well, now you can read all of your favorite Schieffer "Final Thoughts" in his brand-new book, "Bob Schieffer's America." The legendary Bob Schieffer joins us.

You know, it's "Hannity's America." I have a show.


Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Bob Schieffer | Watch part 2

HANNITY: "Hannity's America."

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'd like to know the difference.


SCHIEFFER: ... there, right?

HANNITY: Well, first of all, congratulations on the book.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you.

HANNITY: And congratulations. You will be moderating the last debate in Long Island, the last presidential debate. What's the date on that, October...?

SCHIEFFER: October 15.


SCHIEFFER: I'm really excited about it. You know, the last one -- I did one in 2004. People always say, you know, "Do you get nervous on television?" And the truth is I've done this so long. I've done it. It's like professional sports. You know, you learn to play the game.

HANNITY: But there's such a big theater there.

SCHIEFFER: You need to play in front of people. But behind -- if I was behind the curtain waiting for that one, I really got butterflies.

HANNITY: Did you?

SCHIEFFER: I absolutely did for the first time in 25 years, and I asked John Kerry later, after the election was he nervous, and he gave me kind of an answer. And then I asked George Bush, and he said "Well, hell, yes."

HANNITY: That's an honest -- tell that -- first of all, I love your show. If I don't watch it, I TiVo it. And by the way, you can TiVo "Hannity & Colmes." And -- because I love to watch the Sunday shows. You get great guests.

Tell us about the -- you know, why you wrote this book.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I -- I love writing these little commentaries. I basically think of myself as a writer. You know, when I was hired at CBS, it was because I was thought to be a good writer. Whether I was or not was beside the point.

HANNITY: No, I think you're a great writer.

SCHIEFFER: That was part of the criteria in those days. And I just love to put sentences together.

And so, you know, I started writing these on the Sunday after Richard Nixon died. And I just thought the program needed a little bit of a button of some sort. And so I said something like, you know, Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace, but he left his life with dignity. I was overwhelmed with mail. This was before e-mail.

So a couple of weeks later, something came along, and I thought, "Well, I'm going to try this again." Again, I got a lot of mail. And I don't know if it's because it's Sunday. People like little sermons or something, but...

HANNITY: No, it's not. But you don't -- for example, I think you probably agree. I mean, look at the things we're even debating tonight about the election. Thirty investigators go to, you know, basically find information to destroy Sarah Palin. It's vicious out there in the political world. You don't go down that road. You -- you...

SCHIEFFER: No, I -- Sundays I think are kind of different, and I say this about all three of the Sunday shows. They're still very simple. "Meet the Press" is the oldest program on television. "Face the Nation" is the second.

And oddly enough, they're more like the original broadcasts than anything else on television. I mean as my friend, the late Tim Russert, once said, "We turn on the lights, we sit them down, and we ask them some questions."

COLMES: Hey, Bob, it's interesting that you go through these -- these sermons, as you put them, the things you've written, and they're not divisive. They're not -- it's not a left-right thing. You really tap into a commonality that I think people have here in terms of how we think in America.

SCHIEFFER: They're just kind of snapshots on my thinking. You know, I'm not -- I'm not there to advocate anything. I'm not trying to persuade people. I'm just trying to get them to say, "I never thought of it that way." Or sometimes I want a little chuckle.

COLMES: Do you ever really say, you know, "I really want to take a political position in a situation like this, but you know, I'm an objective news guy, and I really can't do that?"

SCHIEFFER: No, I really -- I obviously don't endorse candidates or anything like that. And I used to, you know, use the needle a little bit.

HANNITY: Me neither. I don't...

COLMES: Hannity hates...

SCHIEFFER: I once called Barry Bonds a jerk. So I...

HANNITY: Did you really?

COLMES: He isn't exactly a flamethrower.


HANNITY: Why did you call him a jerk?

SCHIEFFER: Well, over this whole steroids business.

COLMES: But that's not what you do, basically.

SCHIEFFER: No. But I feel very strongly about that, and you know, if -- all my life when I was a kid, I wanted to be a baseball player. I really did. And I had -- I finally hurt my arm in college, and that was the end of it.

If one of my heroes had told me my arm would get well if I put something on it, I would have done it. I would have done it, because they told me to do it. And the example these people set...

HANNITY: No, I agree.

COLMES: So you have a sense of the power of the microphone or the platform?

HANNITY: Alan tries to take steroids. They're still not helping.

COLMES: Can't you -- can't you tell?

SCHIEFFER: You know, my brother -- you know, I announced I'm going to retire and then I don't retire. And then I announce it. And he said, "You're sounding more and more like Roger Clemens." He said, "Promise me you will..." (AUDIO GAP)

HANNITY: ... Katie Couric. You did great.

COLMES: Bob, we've got to take a quick break. We're going to pick it up right there in a second.

More with Bob Schieffer about -- all about his new book, when we come back on "Hannity & Colmes" in just a second.


COLMES: We now continue with the host of "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer.

You're going to be at Hofstra in a few weeks for one of the -- you'll be hosting -- my alma mater, by the way. How are you preparing for that debate?

SCHIEFFER: You know, I'm an old-fashioned guy. I actually clip newspapers. I clip articles.

COLMES: You don't click and paste on the Internet?

SCHIEFFER: My young assistant, she just goes wild on that word processor and stuff, but I'm still a paper guy.

COLMES: So how much -- I mean, hours and hours of preparation, right?

SCHIEFFER: Yes, and I talk to people. I talk to people at think thanks. I talk to other reporters. I put a lot of...

COLMES: Do you know what questions you're going to ask?

SCHIEFFER: I'm thinking about them. In a way it's going to be great this time, because of the format.

HANNITY: Just ask about William Ayers. That's the only thing I want answered.

COLMES: By the way, don't -- don't take your questions from Hannity.

HANNITY: Can I say, do you think it was fair -- and it's one media bias question. Katie Couric, and Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson, they're all nice people. I've known them all. I've met them all. But when they go with Barack Obama to Iraq, when he hadn't been there in 900 days, and John McCain has been there a dozen times, and he was the candidate and they didn't go with him, is that unfair?

SCHIEFFER: No, I don't think that it was unfair. I think people wanted to know what he was going to say. He was getting ready to run for president here.

HANNITY: Is John McCain running?

SCHIEFFER: Yes, but we pretty much knew what John McCain knew about all of this and what he has said about all this. So, no, I think -- I don't think you can have too much news coverage.

COLMES: Hey, Bob, thank you very much.

HANNITY: Congratulations on the book.

COLMES: "Bob Schieffer's America." Great picture of you on the cover. Thanks for being here tonight.

HANNITY: That means "Hannity's America" is over.

COLMES: This is a different kind of America.

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