From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject NBC News announces when Kristen Welker will take over ‘MTP’
Date August 28, 2023 11:30 AM
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Welker takes over for Chuck Todd. She becomes the show’s 13th moderator, and the first Black journalist to host. Email not displaying correctly?
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** NBC News announces when Kristen Welker will take over ‘Meet the Press’
NBC News’ Kristen Welker, shown here on the set of “Meet the Press.” (Courtesy: NBC News)

There is now an official start date for Kristen Welker as moderator of “Meet the Press.” Welker’s first show as full-time host will be Sept. 17. (Here is NBC News’ first promo ([link removed]) announcing her start date.)

Welker takes over for Chuck Todd on the iconic show, which has been on the air since 1947. She becomes the 13th moderator, and the first Black journalist to host the show. She also is just the second woman. (Martha Rountree was the original moderator from 1947 to 1953.)

Welker told Symone Woolridge of TMJ4 ([link removed]) , the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, that she hopes “to reflect the voices all across this country from different backgrounds. And I think that that’s a part of the responsibility and a part of the tradition that I will carry.”

With a new moderator comes a bit of a new look. Variety’s Brian Steinberg wrote ([link removed]) , “NBC News plans to make a few subtle changes to the program once Welker joins. A new logo, which incorporates some modern design elements, has already been created. Welker will sit behind a new desk at ‘Meet The Press’ and the structure of the program is getting an update, though NBC News declined to offer additional details.”

A quick hot take: Welker is going to do well as moderator of “Meet the Press,” but I’m going to miss Todd. He’s a pro, always prepared, fair and I believe what is said about him in the future is going to be far more favorable than what is typically said on any given Sunday on Twitter (or X) by those who like to yell because “MTP” guests don’t say what they want to hear.

** Speaking of Todd …

Todd’s run on “Meet the Press” is certainly going out with a bang. He had quite the interview with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who made the rounds on the Sunday morning news shows.

During the Republican presidential debate last Wednesday, Ramaswamy called Donald Trump the greatest president of the 21st century. Todd smartly asked the follow-up that Fox News moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum dropped the ball on during their mediocre-at-best performance.

Todd asked if Ramaswamy believed Trump was so great, “Why are you running against him? Why do you think his second term won't be as good as his first?”

Ramaswamy repeated that he thought Trump was better than George Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, then added, “That being said, I believe I can take the America First agenda even further than Donald Trump did. I think I will be more effective in uniting this country in the process.”

Ramaswamy also bizarrely answered Todd’s questions about Vice President Mike Pence’s role on Jan. 6 by saying Pence should have done what he didn’t have the power to do — overturn the election and institute nationwide voting reform.

Ramaswamy said if he was Pence, “… in my capacity as president of the Senate, I would have led through that level of reform, then, on that condition, certified the election results, served it up to the president, President Trump then, to sign that into law, and on Jan. 7, declared the reelection campaign pursuant to a free and fair election. I think that was a missed opportunity.”

This was just one of the combative interviews Ramaswamy had on Sunday. He also clashed and lost his cool when CNN’s Dana Bash confronted him on several points, including his comments last week ([link removed]) comparing Black Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts to the grand wizard of the KKK.

He told Bash, “I stand by what I said to provoke an open and honest discussion in this country. … I think it is the same spirit to say that, ‘I can look at you and based on just your skin color, that I know something about the content of your character, that I know something about the content of the viewpoints you’re allowed to express.’”

Mediaite’s Joe DePaolo has a recap of the “5 Wildest Moments” ([link removed]) of Ramaswamy’s Sunday interviews.

By the way, I just had to include this tweet ([link removed]) about Ramaswamy from author and CNN contributor Bill Carter, who has written several books (including “The Late Shift,” about the late-night TV wars): “Do not understand serious journalists taking this man seriously. He’s a cartoon character w cartoonish ideas.”

** Pressley’s response

Appearing on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation,” Pressley responded to Ramaswamy’s KKK remarks by telling host Rev. Al Sharpton, “It is deeply offensive. And it is dangerous. It is not that long ago that we were besieged by images of white supremacists carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville. It was not that long ago that a white supremacist mob seized the Capitol, waving Confederate flags and erecting nooses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.”

Pressly added, “In one of my childhood memories that is deeply embedded in that my own ancestors and living family members have been brutalized, lynched, raped by the Ku Klux Klan. I recall when my family member had moved into a predominantly white cul-de-sac in the ’80s when I was a child. And we had a cross burned in our lawn. So, for me, as deeply shameful and offensive and dangerous as his words are, he is not occupying any real estate in my mind. I remain squarely focused on the work of undoing the centuries of harm that has precisely been done to Black Americans and charting a path of true restorative justice and racial justice forward.”

** That’s not debatable
MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, during her Sunday show, “Inside with Jen Psaki.” (Courtesy: MSNBC)

MSNBC’s Jen Psaki took some time on her Sunday show to blast one of the big talking points of the candidates during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate.

“This claim that Democrats support abortion up until the moment of birth is entirely misleading,” Psaki said on air. “First of all, abortions past the point of fetal viability do not happen often. They are incredibly rare. And those that do happen involve agonizing, emotional, and ethical decisions.”

Psaki got into specifics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about abortions: In 2020, more than 80% happened before 10 weeks of pregnancy, and more than 90% took place in the first 12 weeks. Less than 1% happened after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

Psaki noted that late-term abortions are incredibly rare and often are from desired pregnancies that must be terminated because the mother’s life is in danger and/or a catastrophic fetal abnormality.

Psaki said, “Mothers have described in heart-wrenching detail having to make the decision to end their pregnancy to save their own life, or because they were told the baby that they were so excited for would not survive, or would suffer. Are most Democrats in favor of legislation that allows for this? Yes. For all the reasons I just outlined. At the end of the day, the point here is that no one is rooting for late-term abortions. No one is running on the platform of aborting viable babies. No one is selling late-term abortions as Ron DeSantis claims. No one. Not Joe Biden. Not Kamala Harris. Not Hillary Clinton. Not Nancy Pelosi — or any other politician demonized by the right wing — roots for more late-term abortions.”

Psaki continued, “What is happening here is an attempt by Republican presidential candidates, who know their views on women's health care are out of touch with the public, to change the parameters of the debate. By inaccurately characterizing the positions of leaders on the other side.”

She concluded with, “As you just heard, abortions in later stages of pregnancy are extremely rare. And they are almost always the result of a devastating choice to save the life of the mother, or because a baby that a couple desperately wanted cannot survive outside the womb. It is not a preference, it is a personal tragedy. Are Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott in favor of a mother dying as a result of her pregnancy? If a doctor determines a baby can not survive outside of the womb should a mother be required to carry that baby to term? And those choices should not be made by any politician or any legislature. They should be made by the woman carrying the baby and by her doctor. That is what Democrats are trying to protect. That is not politics. That is health care.”

Here’s the entire clip ([link removed]) .

Certainly, there are those who disagree with Psaki’s politics, but her weekly monologues are well done. They are timely and, most of all, full of facts. Her arguments are typically based on numbers and statistics, not opinions and emotion.

Psaki’s transition to TV has been a smooth one.

** Remembering Bob Barker

The great Bob Barker, who hosted “The Price is Right” for 35 years, died on Saturday. He was 99.

The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever put it well when he wrote ([link removed]) , “He was on the TV every midmorning in your nana’s house, on in your auntie’s house. He was on in the hospital waiting lounge, he was on in the barbershop, he was on in the dorm rooms. For so many people of a certain age, he’s the thing they remember most about running a fever and getting to stay home from school for a day, situated on the family-room couch: 7UP, plain toast and Bob Barker. Somewhere between ‘The Price Is Right’ and ‘The Young and the Restless,’ you started to feel better, and here we must in part attribute that to the healing power of Saint Bob, reaching out with that long, thin microphone.”

Also, check out these pieces:
* Here is a remembrance by Amy Blaszyk ([link removed]) for NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
* For CNN, Jillian Sykes with “Honoring the legacy of game show host and activist Bob Barker.” ([link removed])

** Media tidbits
* Fox News’ Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier spoke with Politico ([link removed]) after they hosted the GOP debate.
* Superb work from The Washington Post’s Jonathan O'Connell, Paul Farhi and Sofia Andrade in “How a small-town feud in Kansas sent a shock through American journalism.” ([link removed])
* Vanessa Otero, creator of the Media Bias Chart and the founder and CEO of Ad Fontes Media, writes a letter to the editor to Poynter: “What Poynter’s critique misses about the Media Bias Chart.” ([link removed])
* CNN’s AJ Willingham with “Colleen Hoover is the hottest author in America. She also may be the most controversial.” ([link removed])

** Hot type
* The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Dockser Marcus with “A Sperm Donor Chases a Role in the Lives of the 96 Children He Fathered.” ([link removed])
* Really smart conversation from The Ringer: Justin Charity and Rob Harvilla with “A Rational Discussion About Oliver Anthony, Jason Aldean, and the Current State of the Pop-Chart Culture Wars.” ([link removed])

** More resources for journalists
* Tickets for Poynter’s Bowtie Ball ([link removed]) , honoring Anderson Cooper, go on sale Sept. 11, but you can get tickets before anyone else. Learn how. ([link removed])
* Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Media ([link removed]) (Mar., May & Sept. 2024) — Apply by Sept. 8, 2023 ([link removed]) .
* Power of Diverse Voices: Writing Workshop for Journalists of Color ([link removed]) (Nov. 15-18) (Seminar) — Apply by Sept. 15 ([link removed]) .
* Subscribe ([link removed]) to Poynter’s Friday newsletter, Open Tabs ([link removed]) with Poynter managing editor Ren LaForme, and get behind-the-scenes stories only available to subscribers.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .
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