John Dickerson to Replace Bob Schieffer on CBS' 'Face the Nation'

John Dickerson - H 2015
CBS News

Schieffer, who is retiring as anchor later this year, announced the news on Sunday's program.

CBS News political director John Dickerson will replace the retiring Bob Schieffer as moderator of Face the Nation. Schieffer made the announcement on Sunday's show. Dickerson's first broadcast as host will come this summer.

Schieffer noted that Dickerson "sure has the right bloodlines" for the assignment. Dickerson's mother, Nancy, was the first female correspondent in the CBS News Washington bureau.

Schieffer — the 78-year-old chief Washington correspondent of CBS News — announced Wednesday that he would be leaving the job early this summer. Schieffer has been with CBS News since 1969.

Dickerson takes over at a time of substantial change among the Sunday public affairs programs. After years of sinking ratings, NBC News executives last summer replaced David Gregory with Chuck Todd, who also continues to be the network's political director. 

Norah O'Donnell, who had been CBS' chief White House correspondent before joining CBS This Morning in 2012, also would have been an obvious choice, given her Washington credentials. But CBS News president David Rhodes told THR that Dickerson is by no means a second-choice pick.

"Norah is a really important part of a really important show for us, which is succeeding. So of course we want to keep that success going. And we have an impressive political talent in [Dickerson] and we want to have a smooth transition from Bob," said Rhodes. "They're really just different decisions."

Schieffer's Face the Nation is still the top-rated public affairs program averaging 3.46 million viewers this season. But the veteran CBS News personality has been contemplating retirement for some time. Rhodes noted that there was not one "seminal conversation" about Schieffer's retirement.

"He told me that he wanted to retire," noted Rhodes. "I didn't tell him that he wanted to retire."

But the upcoming 2016 presidential election certainly influenced the timing of the announcement; many candidates already have announced and others will declare this summer. If Schieffer stayed much longer he'd essentially be signing up for another presidential campaign. 

"One of the things I am proud of is that by managing Bob's announcement the way we did and by managing John's announcement the way we did, we avoided a lot of the frankly nonsense that goes on too much in this business," concluded Rhodes. "And I think that will make this a much smoother transition."