The Curious Case of Bob Schieffer: Does the Debate Commission Tolerate Dissent?

According to the internet’s wayback machine, retired CBS broadcaster Bob Schieffer was a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) between September 2015 and December 2015.

This is an oddly short period of service. Most other CPD members seem to serve for years. Co-Chair Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., for instance, has been around since the commission’s beginning, having co-founded the organization in 1987. While the other members’ tenure doesn’t go back that far, many have been around since at least 2014.

But three months? Did something happen?

The precise process for Schieffer’s departure from the CPD is private, but one curious fact is known: When Schieffer appeared on Face the Nation in October 2015, the show he previously hosted, he criticized the Clinton campaign, saying, “I find her campaign astonishingly inept.”

An hours-long Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo search found no such negative comments toward Clinton or her campaign from any current or previous member of the CPD. Coincidence? Maybe. The timing of the comment compared to when he ceased to be a member of the CPD is certainly curious, though.

The CPD’s membership is composed of former leaders and elected officials of the two major parties. Fahrenkopf is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Co-Chair Michael D. McCurry served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee and President Bill Clinton’s press secretary.

Records on OpenSecrets.org show that McCurry has given thousands to Hillary Clinton over the years, including a donation on the day she announced her 2016 campaign in April 2015. In fact, many of its members have given to Clinton.

Again, this could all be coincidence. There is no concrete proof available that Schieffer was removed or forced out in any way. But it should certainly raise some eyebrows.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Scott Wagers