In today’s WashPost, Howard Kurtz takes a promotional peek at the new Bob Schieffer-led “CBS Evening News,” and proclaims it relaxed and “unstuffed.” Schieffer likes stating his opinions in the broadcast. After one Tom DeLay story, he proclaims, “My bet is that DeLay will survive this unless, of course, that Texas prosecutor decides to indict him.” This is a classic Schieffer trait, to state either the fully-baked conventional wisdom or the incredibly obvious as his opinion. “I think the Republicans are going to win, Dan, unless the Democrats can pull it out,” would be the way you would make it up.
This raises the question about the role of opinion in journalism. Schieffer’s style of editorializing seems at once unimpressive and unthreatening. I find it annoying, but the more obnoxious variety of bias grabs you by the collar and tells you what you should think, like when CBS’s Eric Engberg would call Newt Gingrich “bombastic and ruthless.” Right now, CBS seems to be trying to use Schieffer to be an Odor-Eater, using his aw-shucks folksiness to take the stench out of the network’s arrogant refusal to admit wrongdoing in Rathergate for weeks. Sorry, your feet still smell.