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UVa alumna, 'Face the Nation' host Margaret Brennan returns to C'ville

When “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan returns to Charlottesville to speak with “Full Disclosure” host Roben Farzad at the Paramount Theater, there will be plenty of familiar scenery.

University of Virginia classrooms, where she dove into Middle Eastern studies and learned Arabic. Clemmons Library, where she did late-night research for her double major. The Lawn, where she met her future husband. And throughout Grounds, so many places where she spent time with friends.

What won’t feel as familiar is that during the “Full Disclosure” live event at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Brennan will be answering the questions, not asking them.

“That’s much harder for me, because I’m an introverted person by nature,” Brennan told The Daily Progress. “When I’m on the receiving end, it’s slightly uncomfortable. I’m not comfortable talking about myself. It’s a big change.”

Diving into current events and the big concerns of the day, however — everything from foreign policy to domestic topics — is where she’s right at home on “Face the Nation,” which airs Sunday mornings on CBS. She also serves as CBS News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent. Thursday’s conversation with Farzad, a public radio host based in Richmond, will be part of the latest 50th-anniversary special event for radio station WVTF/Radio IQ.

Brennan graduated from UVa with highest distinction in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in foreign affairs and Middle Eastern studies with a minor in Arabic.

“I was always interested in moments of change,” Brennan said. “Certainly, the Middle East was always in the news. I knew that interested me. I knew Arabic was a language that excited me. It all kind of came together. I just loved the program and the professors I had. For me, it kind of opened up the world.”

Brennan dove into financial and business reporting after graduating, and her work on “Face the Nation” unites her interests in national security, world events, domestic politics and the common threads they share. She has won an Emmy Award for outstanding news special for her coverage of the Parkland High School shooting and Emmy nominations for her work on the COVID-19 pandemic and U.S.-Iran relations.

“I cover a lot of domestic politics and policy. To me, all of those things are intertwined,” Brennan said. By examining both political and financial issues, “you really learn how all these dots connect.”

Brennan said she believes it’s important to discuss “rebuilding trust in our government institutions” and the distrust in journalism that has deepened in recent years. “I do spend a lot of time thinking about rebuilding trust and cutting to the heart of issues,” she said.

As a resident scholar with UVa’s Center for Politics, Brennan most recently spoke with UVa students last fall. She values hearing the insights and opinions of “new entrants to our democracy,” and she encourages them to keep asking questions — especially the tough ones.

“You can ask any question, as long as you do it with respect,” Brennan said.

Brennan doesn’t know yet what questions Farzad will pose Thursday evening, but one thing’s certain.

“I always love coming back to Charlottesville,” she said.

Tickets, which are $15, can be purchased from the Paramount’s box office in person from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and one hour before the show. Get them online at or by phone at (434) 979-1333.


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