Saturday, June 28, 2008

Who Should Host Meet The Press?

Tim Russert wore many hats at NBC, but hosting Meet the Press on Sunday mornings was his show for 18 years. So, naturally, people are starting to wonder who will take over a show that's been on for as long as most of us can remember.

Tom Brokaw will fill in for the immediate period, which seems appropriate for his anchor emeritus status. But who will fill the job on a permanent basis? It's actually kind of a cheery guessing game to be able to play after the jolting loss of Mr. Russert. I would imagine that he would see it as timely as well, in an election year with historic overtones.

So, first, what's the criteria? That would be a logical place to start. But deciding who you want to watch on tv can be a little like dating or house shopping. You want to look at everything until you fall in love.

Meet the Press is a prestige property. And NBC will want to keep it that way. Current NBC newsies will have the inside track, no doubt. But an outside hire is always possible. I would expect that NBC will also not want to give up on any currently successful shows, like Matthews or Olberman, by moving the name host to MTP.

But who do we viewers want? Some basic guidelines would be:

1. The new host should be someone who's experienced, cut their teeth, made their bones, earned their stripes. Meet the Press is not middle management. It is a destination job.

2. It is also political job, so we want a political junkie. This reduces the pool to experienced political reproters.

3. We want it lively. Politics is fun for a lot of people and so should be the show. So we want a real personality, like Russert, who fills the room with vitality.

4. We want someone worldly. It's time to go global in our political gossiping. We are looking at the future, and the future continues to show a shrinking world. We want someone with a global perspective.

5. Since it's called "Meet The Press" the host should be someone who can legitimately claim to represent "the press."

Having said that, let's consider some candid dates.

1. The Obvious Dandydates

Brian Williams - NBC nightly anchor may want the hour for more reflective reporting, but may not want the 7 day work week.

Andrea Mitchell - NBC political veteran seems like a natural fit. Putting in a woman would also be a timely move.

Soon to be jobless NBC alumn has lots of inside friends, but CBS anchor gig proved she's not a real reporter and no politico.

Chris Matthews - a real political addict and entertainer, but doesn't pull in the ratings and some question the quality of his credentials. Also already has 2 tv shows.

George Stephsomething - Booooring. Current host of ABC's This Week Without David Brinkley probably not going anywhere.

David Gregory - Tall, blonde, and handsome David is currently hosting MSNBC's Race For The Whitehouse, scheduled to sunset just as Brokaw's temporary tenure expires. Coincidence?

Bob Scheiffer - Everybody loves CBS's senior anchor Bob Scheiffer, but he's probably heading for retirement.

2. Bold Moves We Would Like To See

Christiane Amanpour - This would be exciting! Amanpour is with CNN and has also done work with CBS' 60 Minutes. She's international, and could expand MTP's scope.

Gwen Ifill - PBS moderator of Washington Week in Review as well as Jim Leher's sidekick on NewsHour. She would be solid but is a little low key. She has the gravitas, though.

3. Longshots

Keith Olberman - Too fiery and too liberal.

Norah O'Donnell - Solid political reporter could do the job, but may be viewed as too young.

Joe Scarborough - Former Congressman and UF Law alum has established an evenhanded political approach that works well. Not really a reporter though, so may not fit as the representative of the press the show seeks.

Chuck Todd - Interesting Russert protege, political junkie, official MSNBC number cruncher, has good insight, and also has weird fan following. I think he's too young though.

Alex Witt - MCNBC Anchor also plays in band called Mrs. Robinson, and let me just say, well, I'm down with that. Not a real politico, though, so I don't think she's in the running.

4. Up & Comers - Maybe Next Time

David Shuster - Too young, needs to learn to tone down the opinions a bit, but he'll be doing something good by this time next year. That "pimping" thing only made him cooler.

Michelle D. Bernard - Smart cookie will show up more and more if the MSNBC has any sense.

Rachel Maddow - Awesome Rachel is strong politico with great insight, charm, and the voice and presence to control a political debate. She's be a great choice, but may be a bit too . . . um, gay, for some at MSNBC. She should get her own show though. I'd watch it.

Ann Curry - A surprise surge in 51 year old Ann's career as she goes from Today Show's third banana to appearing as substitute anchor on NBC Nightly News. Back to her early reporter roots. Middle aged women and men all wonder why she still loooks 30. Not really politically oriented, though, so a longshot.

5. No Chance

Stone Phillips - It used to be good to be Stone Phillips.

Dan Rather - Hah hah! Just kidding.

Matt Lauer - A great interviewer, Matt is capable of more heavy lifting than the Today Show. Not an real MTP cnadidate, but I'd like to see him do more politics. Another suspiciously young looking 50-something.

Harry Smith - Great reporter and interviewer. A CBS player so not a real candidate.

Edith "E.D." Hill - Fox mouthpiece famous for not knowing what a "pound" is and calling it a "terrorist fist jab." Her show was cancelled 4 days later.

Tucker Carlson - Works at MSNBC with no specific job that I can identify. Show got cancelled. A conservative shill, but insightful. Sometimes obnoxious, but it's hard not to like him a little. No chance here though.