From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject Chuck Todd signs off at ‘Meet the Press’
Date September 11, 2023 11:30 AM
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Todd, who moderated the venerable Sunday show for 9 years, officially handed over the reins to Kristen Welker. Email not displaying correctly?
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** Chuck Todd signs off at ‘Meet the Press,’ ‘the honor of my professional life’
Chuck Todd signed off as “Meet the Press” moderator for the last time on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (Courtesy: William B. Plowman/NBC News)

After nine years at the helm of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the longest-running show on television and a legend of Sunday news programs, Chuck Todd has officially signed off as moderator. He called his time leading the program “the honor of my professional life.” ([link removed])

NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker takes over next Sunday. More on that in a moment.

Todd’s final show was emblematic of his approach at “Meet the Press.” In interviews with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Todd led bipartisan conversations with a signature respectful tone and a focus on the big issues over the day-to-day squabbles of American politics.

As Poynter’s Tom Jones has previously written, it’s an approach that has landed Todd plenty of heat from critics ([link removed]) . Todd addressed his approach in his signoff.

“On my first day on the job at ‘Meet The Press,’ I was handed an audience show survey of Sunday show viewers and the No. 1 reason folks said they tuned in was not who the person was behind the chair or the guest. It was simply to get educated,” he said. “So for nearly a decade, I’ve had the honor of helping to explain Washington to America and America to Washington … and it’s that education piece that I’m hanging my hat on for the rest of my professional life. One thing we will lament, we all lament lately, is the lack of knowledge and nuance in our politics and citizenship.”

Todd said it’s “a vacuum I hope to continue to fill,” and noted that he will keep providing coverage for NBC as well as contribute to docuseries and other programs at NBC.

In 2022, Todd led “Meet the Press” to its first Emmy for “Schools, America, and Race,” a special edition about critical race theory and how children should learn about America’s troubled racial history.

During his tenure as moderator, Todd pushed “Meet the Press” beyond its format as a Sunday television news show to include a streaming program, a podcast, newsletters and more. Cesar Conde, chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, nodded to the expansion in a toast to Todd.

“To think about that evolution … And so that legacy is extraordinary,” Conde said. “You followed in the footsteps of some pretty extraordinary people. And you met the moment, my friend.”

Todd thanked the room and honored his mentor and former “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert.

“The thing that I've learned from Tim is just because you work at a big company doesn't mean you can't be an entrepreneur, that you can't be your own disrupter,” he said. “Tim disrupted the Sunday morning paradigm … and he set a standard that a whole bunch of people started copying, including me. … I'm kind of an entrepreneur at heart … and it's been fun that NBC embraces it.”

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** Todd passed the torch to Welker in a special segment
Chuck Todd speaks with Kristen Welker as he passes the baton as “Meet the Press” moderator, on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (Courtesy: William B. Plowman/NBC News)

Todd’s final broadcast as moderator ended in a special segment in which he officially handed the reins to Welker, who will take over the program Sept. 17.

“As I prepare to pass the baton to the next custodian,” Todd said, “it is a privilege to pass it to someone who needs no introduction.” The show then aired clips of Welker’s reporting from the past few years.

Welker thanked Todd “for entrusting me with this monumental, important role” and shared some lessons she learned while covering former President Barack Obama with him.

“You asked more questions than any other reporter,” she said. “And it was a message to me that you have to have the courage, you have to have the competence to ask the tough questions and to ask as many questions as needed to be asked.”

“It’s not a popularity contest,” Todd said.

“It’s not a popularity contest,” she said. “And I remember thinking to myself in that moment, you have to push yourself harder, Kristen. You have to ask tougher questions. You have to make sure you're getting in the follows. The best part about all of this is that you're not going anywhere. You’re going to be on speed dial for me.”

Todd presented Welker with an on-air gift: the vintage alarm clock — with a battery backup — that kept him on time on Sunday mornings during his time as moderator.

** Welker’s plans for ‘Meet the Press’
Kristen Welker toasts a group gathered to honor Chuck Todd’s time as moderator of “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (Courtesy: William B. Plowman/NBC News)

During her conversation with Todd, Welker shared some insight into how she hopes to run “Meet the Press” as moderator. First and foremost, she said, she wants to approach the show as a reporter.

“That's what I’ve always been,” she said. “I've covered three administrations now: the Obama administration, the Trump administration, the Biden administration. I’ve traveled all over the world with all of these presidents. And I really want to bring that to the show every Sunday, to make sure that we are giving our viewers the information that they need. Now my beat, by the way, is all of Washington, the campaign trail, and frankly, the world, and I want to be asking those tough questions. I want to be making you proud. I want to be building on the legacy of this show.”

** Monday night … nothing

Subscribers to Spectrum, the internet service provider owned by Charter Communications, haven’t been able to watch ESPN or any other Disney-owned property for almost two weeks due to a contract dispute. It’s been a tough time for sports fans hoping to watch their favorite teams — especially with the NFL and college football seasons ramping up.

But tonight might take it to a whole new level.

As The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss notes ([link removed]) , Spectrum is a leading internet provider across New York — from Long Island to Buffalo. And today, the New York Jets at the Buffalo Bills will battle in the season opener for both teams.

Will new quarterback Aaron Rodgers reinvigorate the Jets? Will Josh Allen lead the Bills to — finally, finally! — their first Super Bowl win? It’s going to be tough for fans of both teams to sort that out if they can’t watch the game.

** Media tidbits and links
* Late Friday night, Morocco was hit with the strongest earthquake it has seen in 100 years. At least 2,100 people were killed. The New York Times has a team of reporters in the country. Follow their coverage here ([link removed]) .
* NPR correspondent Eyder Peralta is the first foreign journalist to make it into Nicaragua in more than a year. Here’s what he found ([link removed]) .
* On Sept. 11, 343 members of the Fire Department of New York died while trying to rescue people trapped in the World Trade Center. For CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Scott Pelley speaks with firefighters who were there that day and the loved ones of those who never made it home ([link removed]) .
* Here’s some good, simple spot reporting from CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski. A fan account for Nikki Haley tweeted, “Democrats will never win small-town America again,” along with a photo of an idyllic small town. Kaczynski tracked down the image location — Montpelier, Vermont — and noted that Joe Biden won that town by 79% ([link removed]) .
* Former President Donald Trump took to his Truth Social over the weekend to rail against Rupert Murdoch and The Wall Street Journal over a poll. If you’re interested, check out what drew his ire via Mediaite ([link removed]) .
* “Engineers at the tech giants built tools years ago that could put a name to any face but, for once, Silicon Valley did not want to move fast and break things,” Kashmir Hill reports for The New York Times in “The Technology Facebook and Google Didn’t Dare Release.” ([link removed])
* The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins with “With U.S. Open triumph, Coco Gauff leaves the doubts and doubters behind.” ([link removed])

** More resources for journalists
* Poynter will honor Anderson Cooper at the Bowtie Ball ([link removed]) in Tampa, Florida, on Nov. 18. Tickets on sale now ([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.

Today’s Poynter Report was written by Ren LaForme. Have feedback or a tip? Email [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .
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