September 30, 2023

Chuck Todd leaves the NBC political panel show ‘Meet the Press’ and is replaced by Kristen Welker

NEW YORK (AP) — Chuck Todd said Sunday he will be leaving “Meet the Press” after a tumultuous nearly decade of moderating the NBC political panel show, to be replaced in the coming months by Kristen Welker.

Todd, 51, told viewers that “I’ve seen too many friends and family let their work consume them before it was too late” and that he had promised his family not to.

Todd has often been an online punching bag for critics, including Donald Trump, in a polarized era, and there were rumors that his time with the show would be cut short when the executive producer was reassigned late last summer, but NBC gave no indication that this was anything to go by. was different from Todd’s decision. It’s unclear when Todd’s last show will be, but he told viewers it would be his last summer.

“I leave feeling anxious about this moment in history, but reassured by the standards we’ve set here,” said Todd. “We did not tolerate propagandists, and this network and program never will.”

Welker, a former chief White House correspondent, has been with NBC News in Washington since 2011 and has been Todd’s main understudy for the past three years. She was praised for moderating the last presidential debate between Trump, a Republican, and Joe Biden, a Democrat, in 2020.

Her “sharp questioning of lawmakers is a masterclass in political interviewing,” NBC News editor-in-chief Rebecca Blumenstein said in a memo announcing Welker’s raise on Sunday.

Now Welker, 46, will be thrust into what promises to be another controversial presidential election cycle.

The Sunday morning political interview show has been broadcast since 1947 and is led by inventor and first host Martha Rountree. The pinnacle came in Tim Russert’s tenure as moderator, from 1991 until his death in 2008, and the position has been less certain ever since. Tom Brokaw filled in shortly after Russert’s death, and David Gregory replaced him until he was forced out in favor of Todd.

Welker becomes the first black moderator of “Meet the Press” and the first woman since Rountree’s departure in 1953.

Todd said he was proud to expand the “Meet the Press” brand into a daily show, which initially aired on MSNBC but was shifted to streaming, along with podcasts and newsletters, even a film festival.

“He transformed the brand into a vital modern franchise, expanded its footprint into a range of new media, and kept ‘Meet the Press’ at the forefront of political discourse,” said Blumenstein.

It didn’t stop critics from jumping on social media if they didn’t like an interview Todd gave. Trump even anointed Todd with one of his trademark nicknames, Sleepy Eyes, and later called on NBC to fire Todd in 2020 over the airing of a CBS interview clip featuring his then-Attorney General William Barr. Todd later said that at the time the show was unaware of a longer soundbite of the interview that would have provided more context, and apologized for the mistake.

Todd was toasted at the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner by Trevor Noah, who pointed to him in the audience and said, “How are you?” I’d ask for a follow up, but I know you don’t know what those are.

Todd alluded to his critics when he announced his departure on Sunday.

“If you’re doing this job to get popular, you’re not doing this job well,” he said. “I take the partisan attacks as compliments. And I take sincere compliments with a grain of salt when they come from partisans.”

The purpose of any show, he said, is to “drive you crazy, make you think, shake your head in disapproval at some point, and nod your head in approval at others.”

In the just-ended television season, “Meet the Press” was third in viewers behind CBS’s “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week,” each averaging between 2.5 million and 2.9 million viewers, according to the ratings agency of Nielsen.

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