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Lucas Kavner
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Bob Schieffer Tells Grads Politics Are 'Broken,' Journalism Is Fun

Posted: Updated: 05/19/2012 10:08 pm

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Clad in purple socks, a nod to Louisiana State University's trademark purple and gold, and standing beneath a shimmering disco ball, veteran newsman Bob Schieffer told graduates of the LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication that journalism was changing and politics were dying, but being a reporter is still the most fun you can have.

In an ultimately uplifting speech, the longtime CBS News reporter and current moderator of "Face the Nation" did not shy away from offering his personal opinions about our "broken" political system, which, he said, has reached a state of unbreakable gridlock.

"There's something wrong," Schieffer said, "when this much money has become the overpowering force in our politics."

He spoke about the skyrocketing price of campaigns -- "Obama and Mitt Romney are both planning to spend about a billion dollars each" -- and how the flood of money has made compromise between the parties that much harder. People who work on campaigns, he said, now find themselves "ashamed" at the end of their runs, rather than "happy or sad for what has happened."

"There's no penalty anymore for the dirty campaigning," he told the graduates. "In the old days, people on the losing side had to go back and live in their communities. But now those consultants don't have to live with their loss."

As for his own profession, Schieffer said that although the state of the industry is changing and jobs are scarce, journalists are more important than ever.

He reminded graduates that being a television reporter wasn't even possible when he was a boy, just as being an astronaut wasn't yet a viable aspiration. He told stories about working closely with Walter Cronkite, scoring his first scoop on Gerald Ford, and the time he watched Lyndon Johnson toss his hat into a crowd of admirers in Fort Worth, Texas. And then, many years later, when he met the young campaign worker who had been assigned to retrieve LBJ's hat after he tossed it out.

Schieffer said much of his success was based on luck and being in the right place at the right time. Decades ago, he had entered the CBS news building uninvited, only to be called in for an interview because they thought he was somebody else.

"Lucky? Yes, it was lucky. I was very lucky," he said. "My tip to you is the harder you work, the luckier you get."

Schieffer has long been passionate about journalism education. He helped found the journalism school at his alma mater, Texas Christian University, which now bears his name.

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  • Sheldon Adelson And Family

    Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, and his family have combined to give $26.5 million to super PACs in the 2012 cycle. The majority of that has gone to Winning Our Future, the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich. Adelson is ranked on the <em>Forbes</em> list of the richest Americans at number eight, with $21.5 billion in net worth. Sheldon Adelson gave $7.5 million to Winning Our Future and his wife, Miriam, gave $12.5 million. His daughters Sivan Ochshorn and Shelley Maye Adelson each chipped in $500,000. Another daughter and her husband each gave $250,000. Adelson and his wife also gave $2.5 million each to the Congressional Leadership Fund. After counting March numbers, Adelson increased his lead in the number one spot among super PAC donors. His involvement in politics revolves around his support for the state of Israel, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/sheldon-adelson-newt-gingrich-israel_n_1195867.html" target="_hplink">in particular the policies of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu</a>.

  • Harold And Annette Simmons

    Harold Simmons, the octogenarian Dallas businessman, combined with his wife Annette and his company, Contran Corp., to donate $16.7 million to super PACs through March 2012. Simmons is listed in <em>Forbes</em> magazine as the 33rd richest person in America with a net worth of $9.3 billion. Simmons and Contran donated $12 million to American Crossroads, $1 million to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry), $1.1 million to Winning Our Future (supporting Newt Gingrich), $800,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $100,000 to Restoring Prosperity Fund (formerly Americans for Rick Perry). Annette Simmons gave $1.2 million to Red White And Blue Fund (supporting Rick Santorum). Simmons -- who recently explained that he is contributing money to super PACs to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/harold-simmons-obama_n_1371642.html">stop "that socialist," President Barack Obama</a> -- remained in second place among super PAC donors after the March donations were accounted for.

  • Bob Perry

    Texas homebuilder Bob Perry contributed $6.7 million to super PACs through March 2012. Perry is one of the most prolific donors in contemporary political history. He was a major backer of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the outside group that helped torpedo John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004. Perry's net worth has been estimated at around $650 million. Perry has given $4 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), $2.5 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry, who is no relation), and $100,000 to Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).

  • National Education Association

    The National Education Association, the largest labor union representing teachers in the United States, contributed $3,589,150 to super PACs through March 2012. The union gave $3,584,150 to its own super PAC, the NEA Advocacy Fund, and $5,000 to the Patriot Majority PAC.

  • Peter Thiel

    Peter Thiel, the hedge fund manager, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, gave $2.735 million through March 2012 to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race. Thiel ranks 293 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

  • Jerry Perenchio

    Jerry Perenchio, founder of the Spanish language television network Univision, contributed $2.6 million to super PACs through February. Perenchio ranks 171 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Perenchio gave $2 million to American Crossroads, $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney), and $100,000 to Our Destiny (supporting Jon Huntsman). Perenchio moved up from the eighth spot to a tie for fourth place on the super PAC donor list after February's contributions were accounted for.

  • Cooperative Of American Physicians

    The <a href="http://www.capphysicians.com/about_us" target="_hplink">Cooperative of American Physicians</a> is a medical malpractice and medical liability insurer. The group has contributed $2,555,127 to its own super PAC. No other information has been provided on the source of the funds contributed by the cooperative.

  • AFL-CIO

    The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of unions, contributed $2,306,370 to super PACs through February 2012. The federation, boasting 12.2 million members, is made up of 57 national and international labor unions. Its funds come from the dues paid by members. The AFL-CIO gave $2,206,370 to its own super PAC, and that super PAC gave $100,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • Foster Friess

    Foster Friess, the Wyoming investor, has contributed $2.25 million to super PACs supporting the presidential candidacy of Rick Santorum. Friess is estimated to be worth above $500 million. He has given $2.1 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum), $100,000 to FreedomWorks and $50,000 to Leaders for Families (also supporting Santorum). Friess moved up from 11th place to ninth place on the list of super PAC donors after March's donations were counted.

  • William Dore

    William Dore, the Louisiana energy executive, gave $2.25 million to Red White and Blue Fund (supporting Santorum). This was the biggest foray into political giving by Dore, who has previously cut large checks for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association. He is estimated to be worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Credit: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_KzFkneorU" target="_hplink">YouTube</a>

  • Jon Huntsman Sr.

    Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire Utah industrialist, contributed $2,222,040 to a super PAC supporting the presidential candidacy of his son, Jon Huntsman Jr. Huntsman Sr. has given away much of his fortune in recent years and is estimated to be worth slightly north of $1 billion. Huntsman's contributions to Our Destiny, the super PAC backing his son in the Republican primary contest, came under scrutiny based on the laws banning coordination between super PACs and campaigns.

  • Robert Rowling And TRT Holdings

    Robert Rowling, the Texas billionaire who runs the business holding company TRT Holdings, has contributed $2.1 million to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. Rowling ranks 66 on <em>Forbes'</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.7 billion. He gave $2 million to American Crossroads and $100,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

  • Kenneth And Anne Griffin

    Kenneth Griffin, the head of the massive hedge fund Citadel, has contributed $2.08 million to super PACs through March 2012. Griffin is ranked 173rd on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans. In 2008, he helped raise money for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic primary, but switched to support Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election. Griffin has since become increasingly critical of President Obama and what he considers to be class warfare rhetoric coming from the White House. He stated that the wealthy have "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/ken-griffin-mitt-romney_n_1337721.html" target="_hplink">insufficient influence</a>" in politics and urged the rich to donate to political efforts to preserve their position atop the food chain. Griffin has given $1.05 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Mitt Romney) and $1 million to American Crossroads. His wife, Anne, gave $30,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, gave $2 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Barack Obama's reelection bid. Katzenberg's net worth is estimated to be above $800 million. Katzenberg is also a major fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, having brought in more than $500,000.

  • Amy Goldman

    Amy Goldman, the author and activist who has been called "perhaps the world's premier vegetable gardener," contributed $2 million to super PACs through the end of March. Goldman is the heiress to the fortune of New York real estate titan Sol Goldman. Goldman gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Barack Obama) and $1 million to Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC for the family planning services provider.

  • William Koch, Oxbow Carbon And Huron Carbon

    William Koch, the lesser-known Koch brother, and two of his companies, petroleum, energy and minerals companies Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon, gave $2 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney).

  • Service Employees International Union

    The Service Employees International Union, the nation's fastest growing labor union representing close to 2 million people, contributed $1,690,000 to super PACs through March. The union is one of the most politically active unions in the country. SEIU gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $250,000 to Majority PAC, $240,000 to House Majority PAC, and $200,000 to American Bridge 21st Century.

  • FreedomWorks

    FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit organization, contributed $1,550,910 to its super PAC, FreedomWorks for America. The group is run by former Rep. Dick Armey and was instrumental in organizing the original Tea Party protests in 2009.

  • James Simons

    James Simons, the billionaire chairman of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave $1.5 million to Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, through March 2012. Simons is ranked 30 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $10.5 billion.

  • Robert And Rebekah Mercer

    Robert Mercer (left), the co-CEO of the $15 billion hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, gave $1.415 million to super PACs through March 2012. Robert Mercer contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $350,000 to Club for Growth. Rebekah Mercer gave $50,000 to the Coalition for American Values and $15,000 to the Club for Growth.

  • Philip Geier

    Philip Geier, the former advertising magnate turned communications and venture capital adviser, contributed $1.35 million to super PACs through March 2012. Geier previously served as CEO of the Interpublic Group of Companies, a large advertising holding company. He currently helms the Geier Group, which provides consulting services on communications, advertising and venture capital. Geier gave $1,000,000 to American Crossroads and $350,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney).

  • American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees

    The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation's largest public employee union with 1.6 million members, contributed $1.31 million to super PACs through March 2012. AFSCME is very politically active in local and national politics. In 2011, it faced direct attacks in such states as Ohio and Wisconsin, when Republican governors sought to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees. AFSCME gave $500,000 to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC, $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, $210,000 to House Majority PAC and $25,000 to Women Vote!.

  • American Federation Of Teachers

    The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest union in the nation with 1.5 million members, gave $1.3 million to super PACs through March 2012. The union nearly doubled its giving in March with $600,000 in contributions to super PACs in March. The union donated $1 million to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC and $300,000 to House Majority PAC.

  • Julian Robertson

    Julian Robertson, the hedge fund titan and founder of Tiger Management, contributed $1,250,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) in the current election cycle. Robertson is ranked 166 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

  • Communications Workers Of America

    The Communications Workers of America, the largest telecommunications union in the world with a membership above 700,000, contributed $1,162,971 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle. The union donated $902,971 to the Communications Workers of America super PAC, $190,000 to Independent Source, $50,000 to House Majority PAC and $20,000 to American Worker.

  • Leo Linbeck

    Leo Linbeck, the Houston construction mogul, gave $1,125,042 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC opposing both incumbent Democrats and Republicans facing primary challenges.

  • Crow Holdings LLC And Harlan Crow

    Crow Holdings LLC, which manages the wealth of the late real estate developer Trammel Crow, and its director Harlan Crow contributed $1,050,000 to super PACs through March 2012. Harlan Crow and the company combined to give $500,000 to American Crossroads, $300,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America.

  • Miguel Fernandez And MBF Family Investments

    Miguel Fernandez, chairman of the private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners, and MBF Family Investments, a company connected to Fernandez, contributed $1,025,000 to super PACs in the 2012 election cycle so far. Fernandez and MBF Family Investments gave $1,000,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney), and Fernandez himself gave $25,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • Dean White And Whiteco Industries

    Dean White, an Indiana billionaire, and his company Whiteco Industries contributed $1.025 million to super PACs through March 2012. White is ranked 281 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.7 billion. His company is active in the billboard and hotel industries. Whiteco Industries gave $1 million to the Republican-leaning group American Crossroads, and White gave $25,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.

  • Ed Conard

    Ed Conard, a former managing director of the private equity firm Bain Capital, gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, also formerly of Bain Capital. Conard's donation originally came in the form of a corporate contribution from a shell company named W Spann LLC. The company was created in 2011 solely to give the $1 million donation and then promptly folded. This led to a media goose chase for the source of the donation. Eventually, Conard unmasked himself and asked that the contribution be reattributed to his name.

  • Eli Publishing Inc.

    Eli Publishing Inc., a Provo, Utah-based shell company connected to executives Blake Roney and Steven Lund of the multi-level marketing company Nu Skin, contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Neither Roney nor Lund have taken credit for the contribution from Eli Publishing. Both men are highly active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two executives donated 403,000 shares of Nu Skin stock to the church in 2010, which the church then sold for $10.3 million.

  • F8 LLC

    F8 LLC, another Provo, Utah-based shell company connected to executives Blake Roney and Steven Lund of the multi-level marketing company Nu Skin, contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Neither Roney nor Lund has taken credit for the contribution from F8 LLC. Both men are highly active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two executives donated 403,000 shares of Nu Skin stock to the church in 2010, which the church then sold for $10.3 million.

  • John Paulson

    John Paulson, one of the wealthiest hedge fund chiefs, contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). He is ranked 17 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $15.5 billion. Paulson notoriously made billions by betting against the U.S. housing market during the lead-up to the economic collapse of 2008.

  • Melaleuca Inc.

    Melaleuca Inc. is a multi-level marketing company, run by Frank VanderSloot, that contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). VanderSloot is a member of the Romney campaign's financial team and has a checkered history of bullying reporters and newspapers for writing about his business, which has been labeled a pyramid scheme by some, and his political activities. The 2004 <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans estimated VanderSloot's net worth to be $700 million.

  • Paul And Sandra Edgerly

    Paul Edgerly, a former managing director of Bain Capital, and his wife, Sandra, combined to give $1 million to Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Mitt Romney, also formerly of Bain Capital.

  • Paul Singer

    Paul Singer (far right), the hedge fund titan in charge of Elliot Associates, contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Singer has an estimated worth of $900 million.

  • Rooney Holdings

    Rooney Holdings, the company formerly run by L. Francis Rooney, contributed $1 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney). Rooney is a former ambassador to the Vatican and a past major donor to the campaigns of President George W. Bush. The company is involved in many large-scale construction projects, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

  • Virginia James

    Virginia James, an investor based in New Jersey, has donated $1 million to the Club for Growth super PAC through March 2012. James is not a well-known donor, but has given large sums to Club for Growth in the past and was invited to the Koch brothers' donor retreat in 2011.

  • Bill Maher

    Bill Maher, the comedian who hosts HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," contributed $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting President Obama. Maher <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/bill-maher-super-pac-obama-_n_1299250.html" target="_hplink">gave the million dollars</a> after the Obama campaign officially endorsed the super PAC's efforts.

  • Irving Moskowitz

    Irving Moskowitz, the bingo tycoon and funder of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, gave $1 million to American Crossroads. This is the largest contribution to a political committee that Moskowitz has ever made.

  • J.W. Marriott

    J.W. "Bill" Marriott, the head of Marriott International, gave $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Mitt Romney and the Marriotts are very close, with Romney having served on the board of the worldwide hotel chain. Both Romney and Bill Marriott are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marriott ranks 331 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.

  • Richard Marriott

    Richard Marriott, chairman of the board of Marriott International, gave $1 million to Restore Our Future (backing Romney). Mitt Romney and the Marriotts are very close, with Romney having served on the board of the worldwide hotel chain. Both Romney and Richard Marriott are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marriott ranks 312 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.4 billion.

  • Kareem Ahmed

    Kareem Ahmed, the CEO of medical billing company Landmark Medical Management, has given $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting President Obama, through March 2012. (Pictured: President Obama, the candidate supported by Ahmed's contributions.)

  • James Davis

    James Davis, the CEO of New Balance Shoes, has given $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney). Davis ranks 242 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.8 billion. Davis doubled his giving with a $500,000 contribution in March 2012.

  • Steven Webster

    Steven Webster, the CEO of the private equity firm Avista Partners, has given $1 million to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) through March 2012.

  • Unite Here

    Unite Here, a diverse labor union representing workers in the airport, food service, gaming, hotel, textile and laundry industries, contributed $1 million to the AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC through March 2012.

  • National Association Of Letter Carriers

    The National Association of Letter Carriers' political action committee, the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education Fund, gave $1 million to super PACs in March 2012. The union gave $500,000 to the AFL-CIO super PAC, Workers' Voice, and $500,000 to House Majority PAC.

  • Fred Eychaner

    Fred Eychaner, the Chicago-based media mogul who made his fortune with Newsweb Corp., gave $950,000 to super PACs through March 2012. He is a longtime funder of outside groups backing Democrats, having contributed $2 million to so-called 527 groups in the effort to defeat President George W. Bush in 2004. Eychaner gave $500,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting Obama), $250,000 to House Majority PAC and $200,000 to America Votes Action Fund.

  • Joseph Craft And Alliance Management Holdings

    Joseph Craft and his holding company, Alliance Management Holdings, gave $925,000 to super PACs through March 2012. Craft is ranked 331 on the <em>Forbes</em> list of richest Americans, with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Alliance Management Holdings owns the coal company Alliance Resource Partners. Craft and company gave $500,000 to Restore Our Future (supporting Romney) and $425,000 to American Crossroads.

  • Kenny Troutt

    Kenny Troutt, the telecommunications billionaire, contributed $900,000 to super PACs through March 2012. Troutt was the head of Excel Communications, a multi-level marketing company, until he sold it for $3.5 billion in 1998. He now focuses on racing horses. Troutt gave $500,000 to American Crossroads, $150,000 to Red White And Blue Fund (supporting Rick Santorum), $150,000 to Make Us Great Again (supporting Rick Perry), $50,000 to Americans for Rick Perry, and $50,000 to the Texas Conservatives Fund (supporting David Dewhurst).

  • Anne Earhart

    Anne Catherine Getty Earhart, the granddaughter of the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, has given $850,000 to super PACs through March 2012. Earhart received $400 million when Texaco purchased Getty Oil in 1986. She is active in environmental issues. Earhart gave $600,000 to American Bridge 21st Century and $250,000 to Priorities USA Action (supporting President Obama). (Pictured: President Obama, the candidate Earhart's contributions support.)

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