Meet the Press
|Meet the Press|
|Also known as||Meet the Press with Chuck Todd|
|Genre||Public affairs/news analysis program|
|Created by||Martha Rountree|
Lawrence E. Spivak
|Directed by||Rob Melick|
|Presented by||Chuck Todd|
(for past moderators, see section)
|Narrated by||Fred Facey|
|Theme music composer||John Williams|
|Opening theme||"The Pulse of Events" (fourth part of The Mission)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||70|
|No. of episodes||3,600+|
|Executive producer||John Reiss|
|Production locations||NBC News Washington Bureau, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.|
|Running time||30 minutes (1947–1992)|
52 minutes (1992–present)
|Production company||NBC News Productions|
|Original release||November 6, 1947 –|
Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program broadcast on NBC. It is the longest-running program on American television, though the current format bears little resemblance to the debut episode on November 6, 1947. Meet the Press specializes in interviews with leaders in Washington, D.C., across the country and even the world on issues of politics, economics, foreign policy, and other public affairs, along with panel discussions that provide opinions and analysis. In January 2021, production moved to NBC's bureau on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
The longevity of Meet the Press is attributable in part to the fact that the program debuted during what was only the second official "network television season" for American television. It was the first live television network news program on which a sitting president of the United States appeared; this occurred on its broadcast on November 9, 1975, which featured Gerald Ford. The program has been hosted by 12 different moderators, beginning with creator Martha Rountree. The show's moderator since 2014 is Chuck Todd, who also serves as political director for NBC News.
Currently, the hour-long program airs in most markets on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. live in the Eastern Time Zone and on tape delay elsewhere. Meet the Press is also occasionally pre-empted due to network coverage of sports events held outside the U.S. The program is also rebroadcast on Mondays at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time on MSNBC, whose audio feed is also simulcast on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. The program is also syndicated by Westwood One to various radio stations around the United States, as well as on C-SPAN Radio as part of its replays of the Sunday morning talk shows.
The program's format consists of an extended one-on-one interview with the host, and is sometimes followed by a roundtable discussion or one-on-two interview with figures in adversarial positions, either Congressional members from opposite sides of the aisle or political commentators. Originally a half-hour program for most of its history, the show expanded to 60 minutes starting with the broadcast on September 20, 1992.
The program also features in-depth examinations of facts behind political and general news stories (particularly as part of a segment called the "Data Download", introduced after Chuck Todd assumed duties as moderator, which is conducted on a touchscreen within the main set).
Meet the Press began on radio on the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1945 as American Mercury Presents: Meet the Press, a program to promote The American Mercury, a magazine that Lawrence E. Spivak purchased in 1935. Before the program aired, Spivak asked journalist Martha Rountree, who had worked in radio and had been employed by Spivak as a roving editor for the magazine, to critique the plans for the new radio show. Based on her advice, Rountree created a new radio program that she called The American Mercury, on October 5, 1945.
On November 6, 1947, while still on the Mutual Broadcasting System, the television rights to the program were purchased by General Foods, which began to air the show on the NBC television network with the title shortened to simply Meet the Press; the radio version also adopted the new name. Although some sources credit Spivak with the program's creation, Rountree developed the idea on her own, and Spivak joined as co-producer and business partner in the enterprise after the show had already debuted.
This section, in the next two paragraphs, needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014)
Meet the Press was originally presented as a 30-minute press conference with a single guest and a panel of questioners. Its first guest was James Farley, who served as Postmaster General, Democratic National Committee chairman and campaign manager to Franklin Delano Roosevelt under the first two terms of the New Deal Administration. Creator Rountree served as its first host, the program's only female moderator to date. She stepped down on November 1, 1953, and was succeeded by Ned Brooks, who remained as moderator until his retirement on December 26, 1965. Spivak became the moderator on January 1, 1966, moving up from his role as a permanent panelist. He retired on November 9, 1975, on a special one-hour edition that featured a sitting president as guest for the first time, in this case Gerald Ford. The next week, Bill Monroe, previously a weekly panelist like Spivak had been years before, took over as moderator and stayed until June 2, 1984.
For the next seven and a half years, the program then went through a series of hosts as it struggled in the ratings against ABC's This Week with David Brinkley. Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb, as co-moderators, followed Monroe for a year, followed by Chris Wallace (who would later to go on to a much longer run as host of the rival program Fox News Sunday) from 1987 to 1988. Garrick Utley, then hosting Weekend Today, concurrently hosted Meet the Press from 1989 through December 1, 1991. All this occurred despite the increasing ratings of NBC News' other programs (and those of the network generally) during that period. The program originally aired at noon Eastern Time every Sunday, before moving to a 9:00 a.m. slot by the early 1990s.
Network officials, concerned for the show's future, turned to Tim Russert, the network's bureau chief in Washington, D.C. He took over as moderator of Meet the Press on December 8, 1991, and remained with the program until his death on June 13, 2008, becoming the longest-serving moderator in the program's history.
Under Russert, the program was expanded to one hour and became less of a televised press conference, focusing more on Russert's questions and comments; Russert also engaged in longer in-depth interviews and hosted panels of experts to discuss the topics featured in that week's broadcast. Russert signed off each edition by saying, "That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press."
During the professional football season, Russert, a native of Buffalo, New York, and an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills, sometimes added, "Go Bills!," and occasionally would ask panelists, "How 'bout those Sabres?" if Buffalo's NHL hockey team was doing well. Spoofs of the show featured in a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live often reflected his impromptu additions in support of the two professional sports franchises. By 2006, Meet the Press was the highest-rated program among the Sunday morning talk shows.
On June 13, 2008, Russert died of a sudden coronary thrombosis (caused by a cholesterol plaque rupture). Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw hosted a special edition of Meet the Press dedicated to the life of Russert on June 15, 2008, in which Russert's chair was left empty as a tribute.
Mark Whitaker was named by NBC News as the division's Washington D.C. Bureau Chief and was given "executive oversight" of Meet the Press.
Interim Brokaw era
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams acted as moderator of the first show following the tribute to Russert on June 15, 2008, with the same guests and subject matter that Russert was planning for when he died.
Following Russert's death, Tom Brokaw was named the interim moderator through the 2008 general elections. Brokaw followed Russert's tradition by signing off with "We'll be back next Sunday because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press" (a sign-off that would continue to be used by his successors as moderator). In September of that year, the show was presented with limited commercial interruption.
On August 10, 2008, David Gregory moderated the panel discussion during the second half-hour of the broadcast, while Brokaw anchored the first half-hour from the site of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The following week on August 17, 2008, he moderated the entire broadcast. On December 1, 2008, it was also reported that the December 7 broadcast would be Brokaw's last, with Gregory becoming the new permanent host the following Sunday.
David Gregory began his tenure as moderator on December 14, 2008. Four days after Gregory's first regular broadcast, on December 18, 2008, NBC News political director Chuck Todd was named contributing editor of Meet the Press. Throughout Gregory's tenure as moderator, Meet the Press experienced significant ratings declines. In the final three months of 2013, the program placed third among the Sunday morning talk shows in total viewership, behind CBS's Face the Nation and ABC's This Week for the first time since 1992, it also experienced the lowest ratings in the show's entire history among the key 25-to-54 age viewing demographic during this period. NBC management became uncertain as to the future direction of the program.
A new set was introduced on May 2, 2010, featuring video screens and library-style bookshelves; Gregory would preview the guests to be featured during each week's broadcast using a large video screen. Different, modified intro music was also introduced, with the Meet the Press theme music in a shorter "modernized [style]... the beginning repeated with drum beats" (see "High-definition broadcasting" below for additional information).
In response to declining viewership, rumors surfaced in August 2014 that Gregory would be replaced as the program's moderator. NBC News President Deborah Turness apparently had held discussions with Jon Stewart (then-host of Comedy Central's news comedy program The Daily Show) to replace Gregory, which Stewart later confirmed in a Rolling Stone interview, saying, "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"
On August 14, 2014, Turness announced that Chuck Todd, NBC's chief White House correspondent, would take over the role of moderator on September 7, 2014. Because of Todd's Dodger fanhood, a Los Angeles Dodger poster became part of the physical format.
On September 28, 2015, MSNBC premiered MTP Daily, a new weekday spin-off also hosted by Todd. It formally replaced The Ed Show as MSNBC's early-evening program after a transitional period following its cancellation. MSNBC explained that the program is meant to "bring the insight and power of Meet the Press to our air every day of the week".
Disinformation overtaking media
In a December 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Todd discussed how disinformation overtook the media during the Trump administration. However, PressThink, a project of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, took Todd to task for failing to address the issue as it unfolded, in a very detailed discussion of Todd's remarks.
The set utilized from March 17, 1996, to April 25, 2010, had been designed as an experimental set for high-definition broadcasting; several editions of the program (including the first broadcast of a regular series on a major television network in HD) had aired in the format in the 1990s over experimental HD station WHD-TV in Washington, D.C. Despite this, the program continued to be transmitted in 480i standard definition over the NBC network itself. On May 2, 2010, Meet the Press became the last NBC News program to convert to high definition, and unveiled a new set consisting of large video screens mostly used to display Washington scenery, satellite interview subjects and moderator and subject talking points, along with graphics produced for the format.
The following is the list of moderators for Meet the Press:
|Lawrence E. Spivak||1966–1975|
|Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb
Notable guests and events
Guests transformed certain episodes into historical events, including:
- First guest: James A. Farley, the former Postmaster General of the United States and former Democratic National Committee Chair.
- Whittaker Chambers states Alger Hiss was a communist on the radio broadcast on August 27, 1948, which leads to libel suit from Hiss, the Pumpkin Papers, and Justice's indictment of Hiss by December 1948.
- First female guest: Elizabeth Bentley, a courier for a Communist spy ring, on September 12, 1948.
- An interview with Fidel Castro aired April 19, 1959.
- An interview with Martin Luther King Jr., about the civil rights movement in the United States.
- Every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has appeared on Meet the Press, although not necessarily during their presidency. Jimmy Carter used his appearance on January 20, 1980, to announce the United States' boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Ronald Reagan appeared seven times before being elected president, but did not appear during his presidency. Bill Clinton was the guest for the 50th anniversary broadcast on November 9, 1997. The interview with George W. Bush was conducted in the Oval Office at the White House on February 8, 2004. The interview was held with then President-elect Barack Obama on December 7, 2008. Donald Trump has appeared on the program a number of times, most recently in June 2019.
- The first live communications satellite television interview occurred on Meet the Press on September 19, 1965, with the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
In addition to its broadcasts on NBC, Meet the Press also airs on various other NBCUniversal-owned channels domestically and internationally, including MSNBC, CNBC in the United States and Canada, CNBC Europe in Europe and CNBC Asia in Asia. It is also broadcast in Australia on the Seven Network and in the Philippines on 9TV.
Meet the Press is also available as an audio or video podcast, and is simulcast on radio stations by Westwood One (which also handles distribution of all other NBC-produced radio programming, including NBC News Radio).
References and footnotes
- "60th anniversary background information". msnbc.com. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21.
- "Martha Rountree: Radio/Television Producer, Writer, Host". shemadeit.org. Paley Center for Media. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
- "Meet the Press - Credits". NBCUniversal. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
- "The Sounds of War". Slate. April 2003.
- Johnson, Ted (25 January 2021). "NBCU Debuts New Washington Bureau And Studios". Deadline. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
- "Meet the Press: Cast & Details". TV Guide. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- "About Meet The Press". MSNBC. Archived from the original on February 3, 2004. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- "Meet the Press: U.S. Public Affairs/Interview". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012.
- Ball, Rick (1998). Meet the Press: Fifty Years of History in the Making. McGraw Hill. pp. 12 (Farley), 14-15 (Chambers), 15-17 (Bentley), 51-53 (Castro), 67-68 (JFK) 92 (MLK), 167 (satellite). Retrieved 18 March 2020.
- "Chuck Todd Takes Helm of 'Meet the Press'". NBC News. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- David Paul Kuhn (2008-06-13). "Memorable Tim Russert moments". Politico. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
- "60 Years Ago in News History: America Meets the Press". Newseum. Archived from the original on November 17, 2008.
- "American Mercury Sold to L. E. Spivak". The New York Times. January 23, 1935. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
- Jay, Robert. "WNBT Schedule, Week of November 2nd, 1947". TV Obscurities. Robert Jay. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
- "Fast facts about the longest-running program in TV history". MSNBC.com. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21.
- "In the Hot Seat". The Washington Post. May 23, 2004. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Tim Russert's Commencement Address – CUA Office of Public Affairs".
- "Tim Russert hits ratings milestone". USA Today. April 24, 2006.
- Jill Lawrence (June 14, 2008). "NBC's Tim Russert dead at 58". USA Today. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
- "NBC remembers Russert on first 'Meet the Press' since his death". CNN.com/US. June 15, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- "Transcript for August 15 – Meet the Press". NBC News. August 15, 2004.
- "June 22: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), political roundtable". NBC News. June 22, 2008.
- "NBC's Tom Brokaw to moderate 'Meet the Press' through election". NBC News. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
- Mike Allen (December 1, 2008). "Gregory to host 'Meet the Press'". Politico.
- "NBC's 'Meet The Press' hits historic lows in the final quarter of 2013". Politico. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- Claire Atkinson (December 21, 2013). "C staff irked as NBC News eyes cuts". New York Post. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
- Mike Allen (December 2, 2008). "Gregory to host 'Meet the Press'". Politico. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- Gabriel Sherman (October 8, 2014). "NBC Wanted to Hire Jon Stewart to Host Meet the Press". New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- Andy Greene (October 30, 2014). "Jon Stewart on 'Meet The Press' Offer: 'They Were Casting a Wide and Weird Net'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- de Moraes, Lisa (September 29, 2015). "Chuck Todd's 'MTP Daily' Debut Clocks 483K Viewers". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Wade, Peter (20 December 2019). "How Disinformation Spreads, According to Chuck Todd". Rolling Stone.
- Rosen, Jay (26 December 2019). "The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd". PressThink.
- "Meet the Press reflects on set change". NBCNews.com. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- Hilliard, Robert L; Keith, Michael C (February 18, 2010). The Broadcast Century and Beyond: A Biography of American Broadcasting. Focal Press. ISBN 978-0240812366. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- "Sunday, May 2: 'Meet the Press' to broadcast in HD, debut a new set". NBC News. May 2, 2010.
- Hill, Michael P. (25 January 2021). "New 'Meet the Press' studio pays tribute to heart of democracy, free exchange of ideas". NewscastStudio. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
- Harris, Jay S., ed. (1978). TV Guide: The First 25 Years. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 44. ISBN 0671230654.
- "Free audio and video downloaded to your PC or portable player". msnbc.com. Archived from the original on 2005-07-14.
- "Meet the Press". Dial Global. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012.
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