Contributor Post Created with Sketch. NBC Wanted Jon Stewart to Host ‘Meet the Press’


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“?

There are 13 comments.

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  1. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    So from now on should we consider anchoring the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live a stepping stone to hosting Meet the Press, or hosting Meet the Press as a stepping stone to Weekend Update?

    • #1
    • October 9, 2014, at 4:29 PM PDT
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  2. Matthew Gilley Inactive

    I’m fine with Jon Stewart hosting Meet the Press, provided that John Yoo is part of his end-of-show roundtable.

    • #2
    • October 9, 2014, at 4:47 PM PDT
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  3. Casey Inactive

    Jon Stewart? Next thing you know they’ll put Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football!

    • #3
    • October 9, 2014, at 5:02 PM PDT
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  4. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Who watches TV anymore? If it isn’t on Netflix or Hulu I don’t care about it. Heck I don’t even watch the Daily Show on TV anymore. TV is dead! Long live the Internet.

    • #4
    • October 9, 2014, at 5:04 PM PDT
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  5. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    For what it’s worth, Stewart has better educational credentials than Todd. Stewart’s got a Psychology degree from The College of William and Mary, while Todd dropped out of the Political Science program (with a minor in Music. He played the French Horn.) at George Washington University.

    (On the other hand, they both have honourary doctorates. Stewart’s is from the College of William and Mary, while Todd’s is from Marymount University.)

    • #5
    • October 9, 2014, at 6:00 PM PDT
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  6. Man With the Axe Member

    Jon Stewart has one talent, namely, mugging for the camera. Take that away and he’s as boring as anyone.

    • #6
    • October 9, 2014, at 6:06 PM PDT
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  7. Profile Photo Member

    No one was griping when Tim Russert was doing Meet the Press. The problem is not the format, except to the extent that this format depends very heavily on the “talent” behind the desk. If you don’t have anybody talented running the show, it will fail.

    The host of those shows should treat the guests, regardless of which party, as people with something to hide and should break them down until they give up the goods. That NBC felt it had no one in ranks who could do the job before seeking out Jon Stewart is a shameful admission for a news department.

    • #7
    • October 9, 2014, at 6:46 PM PDT
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  8. rico Inactive

    Great post, Jon. I haven’t read anything about this on Ricochet since yesterday.

    But I’ve got to ding you for “boring headline.” ; -)

    • #8
    • October 9, 2014, at 7:03 PM PDT
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  9. gts109 Member

    Well, I think hiring Stewart would have meant that NBC was ditching the format. I guess you’re ok with that, and I guess they were too.

    I’m not. I enjoy the round tables, so long as the guests are interesting and the host is interesting, which often isn’t the case. I less often enjoy the politician interview segments because they tend to be horribly boring and the hosts are unwilling to press. If those interviews are done well, however, they can be informative and entertaining (Chris Wallace knows how to do it, as did Tim Russert, George S. seems to do this sometimes).

    Stewart would have been a poor choice because there would have been an expectation that he be serious sometimes. And, I don’t think he does serious well. He’s pretty ill-informed too.

    • #9
    • October 10, 2014, at 6:03 AM PDT
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  10. Marion Evans Inactive

    So NBC News now thinks the news is just one big joke?

    • #10
    • October 10, 2014, at 8:53 AM PDT
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  11. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Marion Evans:So NBC News now thinks the news is just one big joke?

    Nailed it.

    • #11
    • October 10, 2014, at 11:43 AM PDT
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  12. billy Inactive

    Is it just me, or does Chuck Todd look like he should be selling waterbeds?

    • #12
    • October 10, 2014, at 6:08 PM PDT
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  13. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s easy to mock Stewart as just another liberal talk show host, and he’s certainly a hard-core liberal. But he seems to be the only interviewer on TV willing to take people on his own side to task when they need it. During the rollout of the Obamacare website, Stewart was the only interviewer to really put the boots to Kathleen Sebelius. He’s probably given harder hitting interviews to Obama than any other mainstream interviewer.

    That’s very much in the spirit of Tim Russert, who was also a liberal but who could make people from either party squirm when necessary. And he’s smarter than most other political TV personalities. I think Stewart would have been an interesting choice.

    • #13
    • October 11, 2014, at 12:20 PM PDT
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