Forget debate moderating; what Bob Schieffer really wants is a battle of the bands

And he and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are talking a musical showdown, he says

August 13, 2012|By David Zurawik | The Baltimore Sun

It's been a very good couple of days for CBS journalist Bob Schieffer.

He had the first interview with the Romney-Ryan ticket in the Sunday night showcase of "60 Minutes"and handled it well. And then, it was announced Monday that he would be one of the four moderators of presidential and vice presidential debates this fall along with Jim Lehrer (PBS), Candy Crowley (CNN) and Martha Raddatz (ABC).

No one's happier to see Schieffer making news than me, because it gives me a second chance to write about an interview I had with him last month and something he said. The interview was for a piece I did on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malleybecoming a staple on Sunday morning public affairs television with three appearances on "Face The Nation," NBC's "Meet The Press" and Crowley's "State of the Union" each this year.

It didn't make the final cut of the story, but my favorite revelation in all the conversations I had with network and cable Sunday-morning hosts and executive producers was Schieffer saying that he and O'Malley were planning a battle of the bands, with Schieffer and the Honky Tonk Confidential versus O'Malley's March, the governor's Celtic rock band.

The news came in answer to a question I asked as to whether Schieffer knew O'Malley was a musician and whether he thought O'Malley's onstage experience helped him when it came to live TV.

"Do I ever know he's a musician," Schieffer said. "Whenever he comes on the show, the two of us are always talking about songs."

As to their different musical styles, Schieffer said, "I know my country music is not at all like his with his Irish band, but I'll tell you something -- Celtic music is where country music came from. When the African banjo and the Irish fiddle came together, that was basically the beginning of country music. It was the beginning of all American music."

The veteran Washington newsman (by way of Fort Worth) said, "I always have a lot of fun talking music with him, and the two of us are trying to figure out  some way that somewhere down the line that we can have a battle of the bands of some kind."

Schieffer says he's serious, and here's a video showing him and the Honky Tonk Confidential performing in June. They sound pretty serious to me - and Schieffer looks about as happy as a man can be singing onstage during the final bars of the song.

Check it out, Governor:

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