Former CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer came under fire Sunday for praising President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, prompting accusations that the veteran newsman was trying to “normalize” the president.
After Mr. Schieffer told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that Mr. Trump “helped himself” with his “dignified speech,” guest host John Berman pushed back.
“You know, Bob, though, that there will be people who look at that last comment you made and say, ‘You’re normalizing the president,’ ” Mr. Berman said. “You’re saying because he met this admittedly very low bar for not sounding foolish, in fact, he was in fact presidential. What would you say to criticism like that?”
Mr. Schieffer responded, “Well, I’m not trying to normalize him in any way. I’m trying to do what reporters do, and that, report and try to emphasize what I think was important here.”
The website RawStory also took Mr. Schieffer to task, running a story with the headline, “CNN guest normalizes Trump for reading Saudi speech without ‘popping off.’ “
Mr. Schieffer, who now works as a CBS contributor, told CNN that, “Today, you saw a very different President Trump. He actually sounded presidential.”
“You may agree or disagree with what he said, but he sounded like a president,” he said. “This went over very well, mainly because he stayed on script. No tweets today. But a dignified speech.”
Dan Gillmor, who teaches at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, posted a tweet criticizing Mr. Schieffer.
How journalists normalize Trump: “This went well because he stayed on script,” says Bob Schieffer.— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) May 21, 2017
A study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Policy found that Mr. Trump received historically negative media coverage during his first 100 days, drawing 80 percent negative stories in nine major media outlets versus 20 percent positive.
By comparison, the coverage of former President Barack Obama’s first 100 days was 59 percent positive and 41 percent negative, according to the report.
“Bob Schieffer is an old-school newsman. There’s no doubt that the former ‘Face the Nation’ host leans left, but he is still capable of reporting, you know, the news,” said Legal Insurrection’s Mark Finkelstein. “That is too much for denizens of the modern MSM to tolerate.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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