Chuck Todd to Leave NBC’s “Meet the Press”

From a Washington Post story by Jeremy Barr headlined “Chuck Todd to leave NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’; Welker will become host”:

Chuck Todd, who has served as moderator of NBC’s Sunday morning talk show “Meet the Press” since 2014, will pass the baton to colleague Kristen Welker in September.

Todd, who will become NBC’s chief political analyst, made the announcement on Sunday morning’s edition of the show. “When I took over ‘Meet the Press,’ it was a Sunday show that had a lot of people questioning whether it still could have a place in the modern media space,” he said. “Well, I think we’ve answered that question and then some.”

Todd, 51, said he was motivated by a desire to spend more time with his family and focus on long-form projects like documentary series and documentary dramas. “I’ve let work consume me for nearly 30 years,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time I didn’t wake up before 5 or 6 a.m., and as I’ve watched too many friends and family let work consume them before it was too late, I promised my family I wouldn’t do that.”

He also praised Welker as the right person to succeed him in the job. “I’ve had the privilege of working with her from essentially her first day, and let me just say she’s the right person in the right moment,” he told viewers.

Welker, 46, who joined NBC News in 2010, has long been trumpeted as a rising star at the network — and across the industry.

On Twitter, Welker described Todd as a mentor and friend. “I’ve learned so much from sitting with him at the anchor desk and simply experiencing his passion for politics,” she wrote. “I’m humbled and grateful to take the baton and continue to build on the legacy of @MeetThePress.”

In her role as NBC’s chief White House correspondent, Welker has regularly guest-hosted “Meet the Press” and also co-hosts the streaming show “Meet the Press NOW,” which airs at 4 p.m. on weekdays.

“She is the ideal journalist to build on the Meet the Press legacy,” said NBC News’s president of editorial, Rebecca Blumenstein, and senior vice president of politics, Carrie Budoff Brown, in a memo sent to staffers on Sunday morning.

Welker served as the moderator of the final 2020 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, earning praise for her performance. In addition to being the youngest debate moderator of the presidential election cycle, she was also the only moderator of color.

During a period of declining viewership across broadcast and cable news, “Meet the Press” still draws big audiences, averaging 2.57 million total viewers in the 2021 to 2022 broadcast season. Among total viewers, the show trailed its competitors on CBS (“Face the Nation”) and ABC (“This Week”), though it came in second place in the age demographic most valued by advertisers.

Overall, however, the Sunday morning broadcast shows have declined from the social and political influence they once held.

In announcing his departure from the program, Todd sought to put his role as moderator in the context of the country’s current political moment. “I leave feeling concerned about this moment in history but reassured by the standards we’ve set here,” he said.

Todd was credited with expanding the “Meet the Press” brand, hosting a daily show on MSNBC that ended in 2022, the “Meet the Press Reports” weekly streaming show and even a branded film festival.

But he also came under regular criticism for some of his editorial decisions. A 2020 headline in the Los Angeles Times described him as “first in viewers — and Twitter critics.” He pushed back on calls to exclude Republicans who supported efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election from appearing on Sunday morning shows like “Meet the Press,” arguing that “you’ve got to be careful of absolutes.”

On Sunday, Todd nodded to the criticism, which he said he took in stride. “If you do this job seeking popularity, you are doing this job incorrectly,” he said. “I take the attacks from partisans as compliments.”

He also addressed some of the broader critiques of his performance as a moderator and interviewer. “We didn’t tolerate propagandists, and this network and program never will,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand either; if you ignore reality, you’ll miss the biggest story.”

Jeremy Barr covers the media industry for The Washington Post.

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