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Veteran Journalist Yepsen Reflects On Decades Covering Politics, Changes In Iowa

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

The longtime host of Iowa Press talks about his work as Iowa's moderator and his tenuous position looking for both sides of the issues.

Whether in front of a camera or above the fold, David Yepsen has been covering Iowa Politics for decades talking with everyone from presidential hopefuls to biofuel evangelists. He's been a consistent presence both as chief politics reporter for The Des Moines Register and, for the last five years, as host of Iowa PBS' "Iowa Press."

But in August, Iowa PBS announced that Yepsen's time on the show was coming to a close. He hosted his last show on Sept. 10, 2021, ending a storied career.

Watch: Yepsen moderates his final reporters' roundtable.

Yepsen joked that the only reliable loser of a debate, whether local or presidential, is the moderator because everybody seems to be unhappy with their performance. He said debates like the many he oversaw were a chance to have candidates answer questions civilly.

"A moderator gives the candidates a chance to say their piece, a chance to respond to what the other candidate says, and then to try to focus on the most relevant issues that are on the minds of voters," Yepsen said. "And if we can do that — and at least think that candidates are treated fairly — then I think it's a successful debate. But it's a challenge."


  • David Yepsen, veteran Iowa political journalist
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa