Today NBC announced that Chuck Todd would replace David Gregory as the host of Meet The Press. The ratings for that venerable program have plummeted recently, with the show falling to third place among the Sunday morning talk shows.
I don’t know whether NBC thinks that Todd, by himself, can cure the ratings problem; the Politico story linked above suggests that other personality and ego-related issues might have been at play in the decision to dump Gregory. If NBC does think that Todd can boost the show’s ratings, however, color me skeptical.
I don’t think the problem with Meet The Press was David Gregory. I think the problem is that the show has stopped trying to engage in legitimate journalism and instead tries to set up phony verbal sparring and conflict about political issues because the producers think it makes better TV.
The Meet The Press of my youth was a sober program where a panel of three journalists asked questions of a figure who was involved in some notable issue of the day. There wasn’t any grandstanding. Now Meet The Press and every other Sunday morning public affairs program has a “roundtable” discussion section where two of the “panelists” are point-of-view advocates who spew their competing talking points and interrupt each other as they are doing so. It’s a waste of time to listen to the blather, and everybody knows it.
There are a lot of people who will never watch a Sunday morning news program no matter how glitzy and contentious it is. Why not just recognize that fact and return Meet The Press to what it was, and at least avoid offending thoughtful people who are interested in hearing what actual newsmakers have to say in response to legitimate questions?