Face the Nation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Face the Nation
GenrePublic affairs/political talk program
Created byFrank Stanton
Directed bySheldon Schwartz[1]
Presented byMargaret Brennan (for past moderators, see section)
Narrated byJohn Hartge
Jim Bohannon (substitute)
Theme music composerEugene Clines and Richard Einhorn (1983-1992)

Score Productions (1992–2002)
Peter Fish (2002–2018)

Man Made Music (2018–present)[2]
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons64
Executive producerMary Hager
ProducersAnne Hsu, Avery Miller, Deanna Fry
(senior producers)
Elizabeth Campbell,[1] Jake Miller
Production locationsCBS News Washington Bureau, Washington, D.C.
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes (1954–2012)
60 minutes (2012–present)
Production companyCBS News
Original release
ReleaseNovember 7, 1954 (1954-11-07) –

Face the Nation is a weekly news and morning public affairs program airing Sundays on the CBS radio and television network. Created by Frank Stanton in 1954, Face the Nation is one of the longest-running news programs in the history of television.

Typically, the program features interviews with prominent American officials, politicians, and authors. Margaret Brennan has been the moderator of Face the Nation since 2018, though former host John Dickerson substituted during Brennan's maternity leave in spring and summer 2021.[3][4] Upon Brennan's return to the program in September 2021, its title was changed to Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan.[5]

The show's full hour is broadcast live from the CBS News Washington, D.C., bureau at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, though some stations delay or abbreviate episodes to accommodate local and sports programming.[6]

In 2017, Face the Nation's audience was the largest of all Sunday public affairs programs, with an average of 3.538 million viewers. NBC competitor Meet the Press closely competed for the title in 2018, besting Face the Nation's audience for several months.[7][8]


Inside the Face the Nation control room. Margaret Brennan appears in the foreground.

Similar to its Sunday morning competitors, Face the Nation begins each episode with a short "tease" segment recapping the week's events and teasing the day's guests, set to the show's theme music.

The remainder of the program's first half-hour typically features interviews of prominent politicians, often lawmakers and cabinet or White House officials, responding to issues from the week's news.[9]

The program's second-half hour transitions to more discussion-oriented segments, including interviews of notable authors with forthcoming books and a weekly roundtable discussion, with a rotating cast of panelists. The program's inclusion of a roundtable discussion has been indefinitely suspended since circa May 2020, the producers citing their desire to devote more time to interviews[10] (and remained suspended in fall 2022).[11]

Unlike some of its competitors, Face the Nation generally books only journalists and columnists for its panel discussions, omitting current and former politicians from providing punditry.[12]

During major news events or breaking news, the program will often feature reports from various CBS News correspondents before the day's interviews, to allow guests the opportunity to respond to the latest news.


Face the Nation's first half-hour airs on CBS television stations throughout the United States, typically in the morning. In 2018, the CBS News digital streaming network began re-airing the program's full hour at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Many of the network's affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone air Face the Nation at 8:30 a.m. local time, serving as a lead-in to the CBS Sports program The NFL Today during the football season.[13]

A delayed audio broadcast of the program is also carried on a handful of radio affiliates through the CBS Radio Network,[3] and in the late afternoon on C-SPAN's Washington area radio station WCSP-FM. CBS Radio also edits and distributes a slightly abbreviated version of the program as a weekly podcast.[14]

Face the State[edit]

As a complement to the national program, several CBS affiliates, mainly based in state capital cities, carry their own programs leading into and out of Face the Nation titled Face the State dealing with state and local politics with the same format as Face the Nation, including KTVN in Reno, Nevada (in the same metropolitan area as Carson City), the stations of the Montana Television Network, WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio, WFSB in Hartford, Connecticut, and WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, while Miami's CBS-owned station WFOR-TV has a complementary program titled Facing South Florida. Other stations carry the same format under other titles, such as For the Record on WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin.


Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Chase Smith on Face the Nation on November 11, 1956.

Face the Nation premiered on November 7, 1954, and was originally broadcast on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Bill Shadel was then the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for CBS News. On that first program, his guest was Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy.[15] Guests were rarely scheduled far in advance, in order to keep on top of current news stories.[16]

Lesley Stahl[edit]

As the first female host of Face the Nation, Stahl became one of the most recognizable female faces on television. She held the position for eight years before stepping down to focus on 60 Minutes.[17]

Under Schieffer[edit]

In 1991, Bob Schieffer took over as moderator for Lesley Stahl, who as previously mentioned, held the position for eight years. Under Schieffer, ratings boomed and the program extended its half-hour time frame to a full one hour. Ratings soared to over 3 million viewers every Sunday, as Face the Nation surpassed all competitors in the ratings.[18] Schieffer won numerous awards with the program, including two Emmy's for Outstanding News Discussion & Analysis, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Overseas Press Club Award.[19]

In July 2011, Face the Nation became the last Sunday morning talk program to begin broadcasting in high definition (leaving only CBS' overnight news program Up to the Minute as the only American news program on the major broadcast networks and cable news channels that continued to broadcast in standard definition, until it converted to HD in late November 2012). Another big change came for the program in December 2011, when they permanently extended the half-hour broadcast to a full hour. The move came after Face the Nation's competitors, NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, and Fox News Sunday, all extended their programs to one-hour.[20] The delay came from dispute among the network's affiliate stations.

After Schieffer[edit]

Logo used from 2014 to 2021.
Current moderator Margaret Brennan on set in 2018.
Margaret Brennan interviews US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019.
Margaret Brennan Interviews Terri Sewell in 2019.

In 2015, Bob Schieffer, the longest-serving moderator in the program's history, retired after 24 years.[17] He was replaced by John Dickerson on June 7, 2015.

On February 22, 2018, CBS announced Margaret Brennan as the new host, replacing John Dickerson, who served as moderator for less than three years to let him focus on his anchor duties on CBS This Morning.[21] Brennan is the second female host in the program's history, after Lesley Stahl.

Brennan conducted numerous interviews with members of the Trump administration, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy. Margaret Brennan also serves as the network's senior foreign affairs correspondent. Brennan interviewed Vice President Mike Pence in her last episode before maternity leave.[22]


The program has been hosted by ten moderators to date, beginning with Bill Shadel. The current moderator, Margaret Brennan, has hosted since February 2018.[21]

The following is the list of moderators for Face the Nation:

Bill Shadel 1954–1955
Stuart Novins 1955–1960
Howard K. Smith 1960–1961
Paul Niven 1961–1965
Martin Agronsky 1965–1968
George Herman 1968–1983
Lesley Stahl 1983–1991
Bob Schieffer 1991–2015
John Dickerson 2015–2018
Margaret Brennan 2018–present

Program length[edit]

The program ran 30 minutes for much of its history. It expanded to 60 minutes for a preliminary 20-week period in April 2012, and was extended to that time length permanently on July 29, 2012.[23][24] There is a deliberate break between the first and second half of the program, to allow local affiliates to begin airing another program if they wish to do so.

Approximately 81% of the stations affiliated with CBS air the second half-hour contiguously with the first;[25] the remainder either do not air the second half-hour at all or air that portion of the program on a tape delayed basis, because of station commitments to other programming (mainly station-produced NFL pre-game shows leading into The NFL Today, along with E/I commitments and advertorial, outdoors or religious programming).[26][27] Other stations choose to air the second half-hour after primetime following their late local newscasts or in a later time slot as part of their late night schedule, though the number of stations carrying the full hour in pattern has increased over time with the end of former commitments as of 2017, from 64% in 2012.[13]

Face the Nation was the last Sunday public affairs program to extend its length to a full hour. The move came as a way to draw viewers away from competitors.[20]

In popular media[edit]

Face the Nation has been mentioned by Stephen Colbert using the nickname "The Nation Face" on several occasions.[28][29]

The comic strip Grin and Bear It satirized the show as "Faze The Nation".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Face the Nation - About Us". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  2. ^ ""Face the Nation" Theme Song" – via SoundCloud.
  3. ^ a b "About Us". Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  4. ^ Brennan, Margaret [@margbrennan] (September 9, 2018). "I will not be in the @FaceTheNation chair next week" (Tweet). Retrieved 2022-02-08 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "Margaret Brennan Sets Return to CBS' 'Face the Nation' With a New Title and Outlook". The Hollywood Reporter. September 10, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "Why Face the Nation Is Only Rated for Its First 30 Minutes". Ad Week. October 29, 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  7. ^ "Sunday Show Ratings: Sept. 16". Ad Week. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  8. ^ "Sunday Show Ratings: Q4 2017". Ad Week. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  9. ^ "Face the Nation Full Episodes". CBS News. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  10. ^ Jones, Tom (May 19, 2020). "After six decades, CBS's "Face the Nation" transforms for its biggest story yet, and earns its best viewership in years". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on May 26, 2020. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
  11. ^ Farhi, Paul (September 18, 2022). "Can the Sunday morning talk show be saved?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  12. ^ Byers, Dylan (April 21, 2014). "The death of the Sunday shows". Politico. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  13. ^ a b "Face the Nation: Local listings and live stream". Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  14. ^ "CBS News Podcasts". CBS News. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  15. ^ Bob Schieffer. Face the Nation: My Favorite Stories from the First 50 Years of the Award-Winning News Broadcast. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0641658730.
  16. ^ Face the Nation: The collected transcripts from the CBS radio and television broadcasts. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. CBS Radio Division, CBS Television Network. New York: Holt Information Systems. 1972. ISBN 0030914302. OCLC 32458186.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ a b ""Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer to retire this summer". Face the Nation. CBS News. April 8, 2015.
  18. ^ Koblin, John (May 29, 2015). "Bob Schieffer of 'Face the Nation' Prepares to Sign Off". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  19. ^ "CBS News' Bob Schieffer to retire". USA Today. April 8, 2015. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  20. ^ a b Stelter, Brian (December 12, 2011). "Media Decoder: 'Face the Nation' Will Run an Hour". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  21. ^ a b "Margaret Brennan named Face the Nation moderator". CBS News. February 22, 2018. Archived from the original on February 22, 2018. Retrieved 2022-11-03.
  22. ^ "Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on September 9, 2018". Retrieved 2018-09-30.
  23. ^ Bob Schieffer (July 29, 2012). "'Face the Nation' to continue as hour-long show". CBS News. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  24. ^ "'Face the Nation' to remain hour-long permanently". Washington Examiner. July 29, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  25. ^ ViacomCBS Press Express (May 23, 2017). "Face The Nation" (Press release). Archived from the original on May 8, 2021.
  26. ^ "CBS News 'Face the Nation' is the #1 Public Affairs Show for Three Straight Weeks". TV by the Numbers. February 6, 2009. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
  27. ^ "CBS Face the Nation – all stations and times". TuneIn. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  28. ^ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (March 18, 2019), All New Zealand Asked Trump For Was 'Love', archived from the original on 2021-12-12, retrieved 2019-04-18
  29. ^ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (January 25, 2022), Like A Game Of 'Risk' - NATO Countries Mobilize As Biden Mulls Sending Troops To Ukraine, archived from the original on 2022-01-25, retrieved 2022-01-25

External links[edit]