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After a prolonged ratings slide, NBC News recently handed the “Meet the Press” microphone to Chuck Todd. Most Sunday morning beltway shows have seen dramatic declines in viewership, but MTP was dropping them at a slightly higher rate that its cookie-cutter competitors.
The network hopes that the ginger-goateed reporter can right the ship, but they seriously considered a much more radical choice. According to New York magazine, NBC News held negotiations with Jon Stewart and were prepared to offer “The Daily Show” comic “virtually ‘anything’ to bring him over.”
That NBC News considered a stand-up comedian to helm America’s longest-running television series provoked much derision on social media. While I’ve never shied away from a raucous tar-and-feathering of the press, I applaud NBC for thinking outside the box.
Stewart is, of course, a passionate liberal, but is he any more biased than David Gregory or even Chuck Todd? I’m confident that both, along with Bob Schieffer and George Stephanopoulos, preferred Obama to Romney. At least Stewart has the advantage of wearing his biases on his sleeve.
NBC was wise to at least consider a radical change since the Sunday morning political chat show is a dead model. Much like the nightly news, news magazines and newspapers, it is a tired hold-over from the antediluvian age before cable and the Internet.
The chat format hasn’t changed for decades: A dull host asks dull questions of the same three dull politicos (half the time it’s John McCain). Regardless of what’s asked, the guest recites bland talking points. His handlers watch nervously from the green room, praying (if they did such a thing) that their boss doesn’t accidentally say something interesting enough to make news. The show ends with three dull reporters chatting with the dull host to discuss everything the dull politician didn’t say. Roll credits and a seventh GE ad.
I’m a political obsessive and I can’t remember the last time I watched “Meet the Press,” “This Week” or “Face the Nation”. Fox has a livelier version, but it’s often preempted here in the west for football. On the infinitesimal chance one of these shows makes news, I’ll catch a 30-second clip online.
What do you think: Should networks keep the Sunday chat shows as they are, revise the format or just show reruns of “Davey and Goliath“?