Chapter Two

Correspondent Roles

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A Key Contributor to the News

For most of his career, Bob was a "beat reporter" -- first at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he covered police and the courthouse, and later for CBS in Washington, where he covered the four major beats: the Pentagon, White House, the State Department, and Capitol Hill, where he spent 15 years. He followed one rule from the beginning: "When I wrote a story that I knew the people on the beat wouldn’t like, I always showed up the next day. If they had a complaint, they knew where to find me," he said. "I learned early on that total objectivity was all but impossible, and being fair was much easier, and that’s what I tried to be. If people know you try to be fair, they’ll usually talk to you.”

When Bob arrived in Washington in 1969, he spent most of his first year covering anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. When CBS decided to replace its Pentagon correspondent, Bob was sent to cover a news conference held by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird and ended up staying at the Pentagon for five years – his first Washington beat. He won his first Emmy Award there for discovering how the Army was minimizing its helicopter losses.

Bob said the most pressure he felt as a reporter in Washington came during Watergate. The Nixon Administration's strategy to destroy the credibility of the press helped him understand the real power of the press. When President Nixon resigned, CBS News sent Bob to the White House, where he covered the United States' first unelected president, Gerald Ford, and stayed through the first two years of the Carter Administration.

View footage from Bob's time as a correspondent


A Timeline of Bob's CBS Reporting Roles

Explore a micro timeline of the start dates of Bob’s time as a correspondent.


Joined CBS News as a Pentagon Correspondent in Washington D.C.


Made the move to White House Correspondent


Began reporting as Congress Correspondent


Began reporting on the State Department and became CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent