New host aims to boost Beltway bore
By Ben Terris THE WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON — With an office shelf stocked with a George W. Bush bobblehead, every conceivable issue of The Almanac of American Politics and a trove of recent electoral ephemera, Chuck Todd — the new host of the Sunday morning mainstay Meet the Press —is understandably perceived as a creature of Washington.
“Everyone likes to say, ‘He’s the ultimate political junkie; how’s he going to get out of Washington?’ ” Todd said.
“Do I get annoyed by this characterization? Sometimes, yes, but I try not to get angry about it.”
Todd has been a political reporter in Washington for 22 years — working at political tipsheet the Hotline, including as editor-in-chief for his last six years there, before moving to NBC in 2007.
But he points out that he grew up in unincorporated Miami.
His father wasn’t fully employed for the first five years of his son’s life. There were times, Todd recalled, when all of the members of his family slept on one mattress.
“I’m not trying to be Horatio Alger,” he said. “But it’s an advantage that I grew up middle-class in south Florida. . . . I feel like I understand that resentment that can build when the New York perspective or the Washington perspective doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on in America.
“Tim Russert had that advantage because he grew up a middle-class kid. I do think that helps.”
Even as Todd took the reins this month of the longest-running program on television, plenty of people think the show
— along with the other Sunday morning talk programming — is in need of help.
“As people have become more and more frustrated with Washington, the Sunday shows don’t seem to have adjusted to that,” said Jay Rosen, a media critic at New York University and a regular guest on Meet the Press. “We have the same people having the same arguments. The political class is still invited on in the same way. There needs to be some recognition of that.”
The New York Times tabulated the appearances by the most frequent guests of Sunday programs since 2009. The list is unsurprising: Republican Sens. John McCain (97 guest spots) and Lindsey Graham (85), former Obama strategist David Axelrod (83) and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin
(78) have logged the most face time. Asked whether Meet the Press would implement a “McCain cap,” Todd laughed. “The funny thing is, McCain hasn’t been on the show this year,” he said.
Although he won’t engage in a televised love affair with Washington, Todd acknowledged, “It’s important that the person who sits in this chair understands the insider part of this.”
He is facing a lot of pressure to succeed.
David Gregory, the previous host of Meet the Press, had a six-year run marked by a serious decline in ratings.
The show needs to regain its “edge,” Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, told The New York Times. “I think the show had become a talking shop that raked over the cold embers of what had gone on the previous week.”
(Jan’s musings . . .
. . . Meet The Press is not only the longest running show on TV, but also a Sunday Morning Main-stay.
Yes, it recapped the weeks major political/global activity, (seems we all have a craving for that) from the mouths of the most knowledgeable, involved and authoritative minds.
I shall forever see Tim Russert at the helm, his smiling congenial presence who genuinely “liked” people. His warmth and friendliness put guests at ease which produced more than a data driven piece, we were given the workings and essence of events and those who were involved with it.
In point of fact, no one could “replace” Tim Russert for he was one-of-a-kind whom everybody loved and trusted. David Gregory accepted this position fully aware that trying to occupy those vacant shoes could not be the same. But he did a very good job. His was a smart, somewhat reserved, dignified and pointedly ‘neutral’ manner. A very professional performance.
I missed the warm, heartfelt quality I had been accustomed to,. . took for granted. Russert also practiced a sense of neutrality, but in such an overt, friendly and casual way with candor, ease and openness.
Apparently, the Sunday AM shows became less important to me. . .just happened, I guess.
Missed Gregory’s final show — didn’t anticipate it, and frankly, wondered what happened. There was no announcement, no goodbye, well-wishing – the usual sendoff to a valued member of the group. It was, frankly a bit stunning and in my opinion in bad taste. In fact, I didn’t know until right now as I headed over to Google to find a photo of David for my comment here. I’ll let it go at that as gossip is not my forte. But I admired Gregory and found him competent and felt kinda bad that I had been so absent from the show. Wish I could have let him know that there are those who appreciated him . He was tall, handsome and a presence.
Now we have Chuck Todd. Everyone knows Chuck Todd. He seems to have quite a reputation that I didn’t know about with his political smarts. Easy to like him, has an easy smile and uses it generously. He has been a presence, always there or nearby, kinda like a little brother, usually somewhere near. . . . Because he is ‘smaller’? I donno — hope not! Bill Mahr is smallish as well, but man — — what a presence! Perhaps, I just never thought of Chuck as the guy in charge. (Of course, still missing Tim and his huge presence so much) But this is old history now. . .
With Chuck’s background, ethics, training and experience level he should do very well. But lets not forget that it was Tim Russert who brought Chuck Todd aboard! Getting down to it — that’s all we need to know. So Chuck, I’m ready to tune in and return to the fold. . so to speak. Much success to you, Chuck. . . go for it )
So Long, Old Friend