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Kalb Report Launches New Season with “The Great Debates” September 21 at National Press Club

Bob Schieffer, Sander Vanocur, Mike McCurry and Janet Brown Join Moderator Marvin Kalb To Mark 50th Anniversary of Historic 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Forums and Explore Future of Presidential Debates in Age of Global Media Transformation

September 07, 2010

WASHINGTON – On September 26, 1960, Vice President Richard M. Nixon and U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy gathered in Chicago to discuss the issues of their campaign in the first-ever general election presidential debate. A monumental evening for both politics and television, the debate reached nearly 70 million TV viewers. Now, 50 years later, the debates are among the most anticipated events of each presidential campaign. Americans, eager to see their candidates tackle the most important issues of the election, tune in to each event on televisions, radios, computers, and now even mobile devices.

To launch the new season of “The Kalb Report”, moderator Marvin Kalb will revisit the groundbreaking Kennedy-Nixon debates with a distinguished panel including Bob Schieffer of CBS News,  Mike McCurry and Janet Brown of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and 1960 debate questioner and former network correspondent, Sander Vanocur. The forum will take place on Tuesday, September 21, at 8 p.m. in the main ballroom of the National Press Club (529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C.).

"Given the new technology of communication--the Internet, the iPad, the explosive growth of cable TV--change is in the air,” said Mr. Kalb. “But is it change for better or worse? Can the presidential debates retain their substance, or must they too bend to ratings gimmicks? We have the right panelists, and I can't wait to hear the right answers, whatever they may turn out to be."

For the eighth consecutive year, "The Kalb Report" will be underwritten by a grant from Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Donor Advised Fund at Communities Foundation of Oklahoma (CFO). Once again, the series will be distributed nationally by American Public Television with Oklahoma Educational Television Authority serving as the presenting station. "The Kalb Report" also airs on New England Cable News, Sirius-XM Satellite Radio, and Federal News Radio in Washington, D.C. Excerpts appear on and each program is streamed on

“In this time of historic transformation, The Kalb Report consistently offers insightful forums on the core values of journalism and the vital role of the press in our democracy,” said Bob Ross, President and CEO of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “By reaching students, journalists and the general public the series serves to educate and enlighten a wide-ranging audience on the importance of maintaining a strong, free press in our free society. We are pleased to have our name associated with such an exemplary program.”

The series is produced by the GW Global Media Institute in partnership with The National Press Club and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School. Since 1994, the partnership has produced 68 forums in "The Kalb Report" series with guests including Rupert Murdoch, Walter Cronkite, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, Bob Costas, Ken Burns, and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. All forums offer open media coverage.

"Our principal goal has always been to help our students better understand critical issues involving democracy and the press so they are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow," said Michael Freedman, executive producer and GW professor of Media and Public Affairs. "Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation provides the financial support to make this happen and we are honored that they have once again selected "The Kalb Report" as one of their key projects."

Bob Schieffer is the chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and moderator of “Face the Nation”. Having worked Washington for over 30 years, Schieffer holds the distinction of being one of a select few journalists to cover all four major D.C. beats- The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and Capitol Hill. During his tenure at CBS, Schieffer has covered every presidential campaign since 1972 and moderated two Commission-sponsored debates during the last two election cycles.

Sander Vanocur is a former NBC and ABC news correspondent and served as an original questioner in the first 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate. Vanocur joined NBC News in 1957, where he held various positions during his 14 year tenure including White House correspondent, National Political correspondent, and Washington correspondent for the Today Show. Prior to NBC News, he was a general assignment reporter for The New York Times. Vanocur was with ABC News from 1977 to 1992 where his titles included chief diplomatic correspondent, senior correspondent in Buenos Aires during the Falkland Islands War, and anchor of Business World.

Janet Brown is the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the non-profit corporation that has conducted every presidential and vice presidential debate since 1988. Brown has led the organization since its founding in 1987. Previously, Brown worked in the Reagan administration’s Office of Budget and Management and served as press secretary to Republican Senator John C. Danforth.

Mike McCurry is co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates and a partner in the government relations firm Public Strategies Washington. From 1994-1998, he served as White House press secretary in the Clinton administration. Prior to his service at the White House, McCurry served as press secretary for a number of other politicians and government organizations including Senators Harrison Williams, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Glenn, Bob Kerrey, and the U.S. Department of State. McCurry also spent two years as the director of communications for the Democratic National Committee.

Moderator Marvin Kalb is a James Clark Welling Presidential Fellow at The George Washington University and Edward R. Murrow Professor Emeritus at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Over the course of his distinguished 30-year career in broadcast journalism, Mr. Kalb served as chief diplomatic correspondent for both CBS News and NBC News, and moderator of “Meet the Press.” He went on to serve as the founding director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Among his many honors are two Peabody Awards, the DuPont Prize from Columbia University, the 2006 Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club and more than a half-dozen Overseas Press Club awards.

Executive Producer Michael Freedman is a professor in the GW School of Media and Public Affairs and executive director of the University’s Global Media Institute. A 30-year broadcast journalist, network executive, university administrator and professor, Mr. Freedman served as general manager of CBS Radio Network News, managing editor for the broadcast division of United Press International and vice president for communications at The George Washington University. Mr. Freedman is the recipient of more than 85 honors for journalistic excellence.

Producer Heather Date serves as associate director of GW’s Global Media Institute. Ms. Date is a former CNN producer and a graduate of The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.

“The Kalb Report” series is directed by Robert Vitarelli, a 39-year CBS News veteran and a Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

The George Washington University Global Media Institute explores the evolving roles and responsibilities of the media in our society and the transformation of journalism in the 21st Century. The Institute also produces the weekly network radio programs “This Just In!”, in partnership with the Newseum, and “GW Presents American Jazz” in partnership with Tony Bennett’s Exploring the Arts Foundation.

Free tickets for the September 21, “Kalb Report” are available online at A live Webcast of this forum will be available at



Jill Sankey - 202-994-6466 - [email protected]



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