Tom Brokaw will take over the moderator’s chair on Meet the Press until the November presidential election. NBC made the announcement with little fanfare. It seems a smart, if safe, choice. Brokaw, 68, is a known entity who, since his retirement from Nightly News in December 2004, has gone barely a week or two without popping up somewhere on NBC or MSNBC. It’s like he never really left.
Putting an old face onto an old show isn't taking much of a risk. And it doesn't reinvent the product. Looking into the future, who would be both a qualified and a buzz-making choice to get the gig permanently? Names bandied about in the media blogs and columns include NBC White House correspondent and frequent Today Show sub David Gregory, former Today host and current CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and CNN anchor/reporter Anderson Cooper. Yawn, yawn, yawn.
It would be a major move, if not necessarily a promotion, to be named permanent host of Meet the Press. The job needs someone with lots of on-air experience, a natural rapport with viewers, a familiarity with the quirks of live television and just enough celebrity oomph to draw viewers on his or her name alone. The new host also must have a strong enough personality to deal with difficult guests who try to lie, spin or otherwise detour from answering the tough questions. And the host should be neutral enough politically to keep accusations of bias from creeping into the interviews.
Wouldn’t hurt to hire someone young, attractive on camera and fashion savvy since Meet the Press’ current audience demographic is somewhere just this side of Methuselah. Younger viewers might relate to a host who’s a little less brainy than a Russert or a Brokaw, someone who doesn’t get bogged down in complicated palaver about the Federal Reserve, the mortgage crisis or how OPEC sets the price of oil per barrel. Someone who'd never use the word "palaver."
All the other network news programs have gone soft. Maybe Meet the Press—retitled MTP—could benefit from less focus on important issues and the addition of a couple of juicy gossip segments delivered in that fake-enthusiastic style that the on-air talent on E! has perfected. That means the host would have to be, like, totally comfortable with the likes of Angelina Jolie (to talk not about third-world adoption but about maintaining hotness after birthing twins) and Matthew McConaughey (fighting for the right to remain shirtless).
That leaves just one worthy candidate the NBC honchos should consider: