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Oct. 17 2009 - 6:10 pm | 666 views | 5 recommendations | 47 comments

Fix ‘Meet The Press’, Hire Rachel Maddow

russert_gregoryLet’s be honest, “Meet The Press” has been lost since Tim Russert’s passing. What used to be Sunday morning’s hardest-hitting, most compelling politics show has become a little soggy. David Gregory was a safe choice to replace Russert; he’s got credibility as a reporter, a bit of sense of humor, heck, he’s even pretty good-looking. And he’s made the show just that: safe. He doesn’t have fire. He doesn’t have Russert’s dogged determination, his inability to let an issue go before he gets to the truth. And “Meet The Press” isn’t the same without it.

It’s nothing personal against Gregory, he does a respectable job. But Tim Russert’s shoes were ridiculously hard to fill, and most anyone would’ve been a let down. Which is why it’s time for MTP to make another change. It’s not about the guy who replaces the legend, it’s about the guy who replaces the guy who replaces the legend. He (or she) is the one that really has a shot. A chance to step out of the shadow, to be their own host, to make the show in their image, not as a reflection of the great one who came before them. And that person is Rachel Maddow.

If you’re familiar with her work on MSNBC, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, watch the following. It’s Maddow’s interview with Tim Phillips, the President of “American’s for Prosperity” a Republican activist organization.

And now the completely kick-ass and amazing second segment.

You need a pretty good interview to compete with this.

You need a pretty good interview to compete with this.

Great stuff, right? Maddow does something there that almost no other television personality is able to pull-off convincingly nowadays: standing up for what’s right. I’m sure that “Meet The Press” producers would be wary of her because she clearly has a liberal bent. She’s not impartial, she doesn’t toe the line of unbiased political evaluation. But, just like Russert, Maddow is ruthless when it comes to the truth. She goes after anyone – liberal or conservative – when they try to deceive the public. She’s held the Obama administration’s feet to the fire countless times when they haven’t fulfilled their promises on gay rights, health care, or Guantanamo Bay. She challenges her guests to be forthright, and makes them pay when they attempt anything less. Maddow could, without a doubt, bring the fire back to Sunday morning in a way that only Russert was capable. He was an expert when it came to being opinionated without revealing what his opinions were. Maddow’s style is a bit different, but the results would be the same. Fascinating, informative, and action-packed political discussion. And that beats the hell out of a little Sunday brunch, right?


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  1. collapse expand

    She’s the best and has a style similar to Russert’s but MTP is only one day a week and it comes with restraints. I’d rather see her five times a week unrestrained.

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    Brian I love Rachel and for the reasons I love Rachel I don’t think she’s be a great host for MTP. Rachel is far to partisan for the MTP gig. I’m not a great fan of Gregory (and I don’t think he’s that good looking either)had it been up to me I would have put Andrea Mitchell in the host chair, she has the gravitas and practical experience that I feel would have made her a super choice for the job.

  3. collapse expand

    You are so on the money. After who knows how many years of watching “Meet The Press”, I no longer do as I find the competitive shows much better. With Rachel Maddow, I would be back.

  4. collapse expand

    If Rachel can’t be the MTP anchor, then she should be on the show’s discussion panel every time they have one. I’ve caught her there twice and enjoyed her contributions. She is imo just the best there is today. P.S. I look forward to … hell, I depend on seeing Rachel every night on the Web (I don’t have cable). I’d go through serious withdrawal if she appeared only once a week …

  5. collapse expand

    She has no credibility, except with the far left. The mainstream media is in a tail spin. Check the ratings if you don’t beleive me. If they want to be relevant to anyone but the code pink/hollywood/NY/beltway crowd they need outside blood worse than british royal family.

  6. collapse expand

    Let’s face it: The Sunday morning political talk shows should be euthanized. They serve no purpose other than giving their hosts and panels an ego boost, something to put on their resumes, and an excuse to collect a paycheck.

    Really, have you ever watched one of those shows and been gobsmacked by a critical piece of information that you didn’t already know or a blinding insight that you already hadn’t had?

    All those shows do is establish and strictly enforce a very narrow range of topics that are endlessly batted around. The typical DIY program on how to snake clogged plumbing is much more informative.

  7. collapse expand

    From the limited exposure I’ve had to MTP once David Gregory,I can agree that I’ve been disappointed. I do wonder if it has to do with him or with the management. Gregory was pretty quick when he was with the Washington press corps, calling out Bush when necessary. Go Stretch!

    I liked Maddow’s interview here, but didn’t love it. I know it’s hard when you’re under a time constraint, but why didn’t she remind Philipps that he just said he stood by the press release about the Chinese workers even though he didn’t write it, once he started complaining that she drudged it up to show the disparaging side of the company? I also would have loved it if she turned around the “courage” reference. The right is excellent at turning around rhetoric from the left. Here’s was a great example where a left hook would have scored big points: Max Cleland had the courage to stand up (as it were) against Bush’s reckless policy that played out in the war against terror. The person who could add that to his/her game would have my vote to anchor any major news program.

  8. collapse expand

    Brian: Interesting proposal. Maddow’s the smartest person in the field right now…certainly smart enough to manage a switch into neutral mode. But I think she’s far too well established as a liberal voice to make that transition now.

    You’re sure right about MTP, though–I never watch it anymore.

  9. collapse expand

    Actually Gregory could be better than he is but they let Michelle Jaconi, Russert’s political producer go to CNN.

    In Britain they are more honest about their on-air talent calling a news reader a news reader, the producers behind the good looking faces do the real work…Russert was more producer, more reporter than newsreader, he didn’t have the face but worked hard to get it right and used his staff, nurtured a talented staff to make sure he got it right…for NBC to let this go accounts for the blandness of Meet the Press.

    Rachael is perhaps a partisan but are her facts incorrect? Too often news programs let politicians to spout, to answer yes and no questions with requisite filibustering of time to get to Gregory’s “Let’s move on” because of time restraints.

    Russert knew this game and posed questions based on past statements that moved the discussion his way not theirs, a talent and plan worked out to get to the point of the discussion by him and his producers.

    This is lost on Gregory whose former job was to get his question answered in any way or form in the circus of the Washington Press corps. Being able to shout loudly and get a word in edgewise is just not the same thing as compelling our leaders to make sense of their rhetoric.

    Let’s face it…cable has not improved the dialog in this country, if anything it has made it worse. We trusted Cronkite and the Huntley-Brinkley Report and Peter Jennings who did their homework and were supported by the separation of news and corporation but has gone the way of the dodo and now we have an assortment that resembles and can of mixed nuts, pick your favorite and for god’s sake make a profit.

    Rachel goes out there…but is willing to back her facts and argue the points with anyone…something that Russert had the confidence to do as well.

    NBC must take notice of the ratings when she is on the show, I for one am surprised. I am also missing Russert and real dialogs.

  10. collapse expand

    Yes, I agree that Rachel Maddow would be a great MTP Moderator, but/and, we, Liberals, would lose one of/if not the most powerful voices we have that SPEAKS TRUTH TO POWER AND THE IGNORANT/CROOKED RIGHT WING.
    So don’t take her from the daily show…THAT’S ALL I ASK!!!

  11. collapse expand

    Dr. Maddow had me jumping out of my chair cheering after that segment; she is doing God’s work. Like her raking of Tom Ridge over the coals a few weeks ago… she has really stepped out, even beyond her already considerable progressive unapologetic anti-bullshit powers, of late.

    I have to disagree with your wishes though Brian. From my understanding MTP is a weekly show. while Rachel has more credibility (to me), a better sense of humor and is better looking than Gregory, I wouldn’t want anything to detract from the potency of her nightly newscast.

  12. collapse expand

    I agree that Maddow would make for more compelling television than Gregory. But a better solution would to look at the original format of Meet the Press.

    The original format had a panel ofv journalists who would ask questions of the guest.

    While the show has always had a strong main moderator (my favorite was Lawrence Spivak), the panel format allowed for better depth and breath of questions.

    It was under Tim Russert that MTP became Meet the Russert. And while having a single person asking questions did help focus the questions, Tim Russert was not the best person for follow-up and dogged determination.

    If someone didn’t answer the question the first time it was asked, Russert would jump to the second question on the list. He also would be in such a hurry to get through his list of questions that he would miss a topic brought up by his guest.

    I myself would like to see at least two people asking questions. That would be better for the audience as well as the hosts. Gregory could step back as the second host could delve into a certain subject while he would ask questions on a different topic.

    Imagine, Maddow and Gregory interviewing Rahm Emanuel. He could ask questions about Afganistan while she would ask about domestic policies.

    The only problem with Maddow joining the show would be she would no longer be able to go up to her home in Mass. for weekends. I worry about her losing that time to spend with her partner and do research without a “TV machine’ around.

    But instead of focusing on one host, the show needs to look at a panel. And that way Maddow wouldn’t have to be there every weekend.

    • collapse expand

      That’s just USING HER for HIS show! I reject that solution completely.

      It is David Gregory whom I find so objectionable, and whom so many that I know also find extremely objectionable. He is a real right-wing news whore, and it is soooo obvious when one watches him attempt to interview.

      The good old days of TV are long gone. “Panel-Shmanel!”
      (The old MTP was a joke!)


      In response to another comment. See in context »
  13. collapse expand

    You lost me at David Gregory being good-looking! Huh?

  14. collapse expand

    The basic action all day of Rachel Maddow is to do your homework as intensely as Tim Russert may have done. She is ultra motivated to do it, so that she knows her guests as well as Russert did. That is what made Russert great and what may make her great.

  15. collapse expand

    I cannot tolerate David Gregory at all. I find him arrogant and strongly biased toward the right. In no possible way does he fit in Tim Russert’s shoes. Although Tim was also biased, he covered up a little better than David. Arianna Huffington was holding his feet to the fire in her weekly “Russert Watch” column, and he was getting better before his death. I was still able to watch his program every week. My senses do not allow me to watch the program. I cannot tolerate it at all. David Gregory is not fair, nor do I believe he is even that intelligent. He attempts to make news by throwing out some kind of “zinger,” (like Tim used to do), but he is not effective at all. He is a mere “copycat,” and it is very evident. I refuse to watch him now. His ratings go up when Rachel Maddow is on the show, because Rachel is a thoughtful, intelligent person who makes sense, and she has a following. I am included amung Rachel’s following, but I will not follow her to David Gregory’s program anymore, merely to push up HIS ratings. I will only follow her to that show again WHEN she is made permanent moderator. She could save the show, but DO THE NBC BRASS HAVE THE GUTS? I DOUBT IT!!!

    • collapse expand

      ‘David Gregory is biased to the right” Wow. I almost spit my coffee all over the computer. I think I am starting to understand some things.

      If you are not in lock step with the liberal talking points you will be accused of bias, and subject to viscious attacks. (David Gregory is bias to the right, or Fox News is not News, or opposition to Obama is racist, or Tea Party goers are racist fascist or Both!)

      What happened to tolerance? What happened to diversity? What happened to choice liberals?

      We are constanlty being lectured about all of the goodness in those three words, but yet if you try to practice any of those things you are tar and feathers as a racist/sexist/homophobe (just switching up the labels–the label is only important in that it must be horrific– and thus not require morally superior liberals to respond to the substance of the argument of whomever dare disagree with aforementioned Ivy league educated liberal.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  16. collapse expand

    The truth has a liberal bias, but not Rachel Maddow. Keith Olberman has a liberal bias, although I love him, but not Rachel Maddow.
    Conservative U.S. administrations have never limited government spending, even though doing so is the foundation of their philosophy. They have just spent on war and destruction instead of investing in Americans. Modern conservative administrations have always worked to limit the rights of Americans, even though a smaller less intrusive government is one of the foundations of their philosophy.

    The right does not disagree with the left, THE RIGHT IS WRONG.

  17. collapse expand

    I concur. Maddow is a great choice. Meet the Press needs someone who will not only confront the spinmeisters but also the other panel members when all they do is sit and lob softballs. We don’t need any more pablum pundits.

  18. collapse expand

    I couldn’t agree more. I think Rachel Maddow is fantastic.


  19. collapse expand

    What NBC lost with Russert is a guy that was always tough. Since his death “NBC News” sold it’s objectivity for GRPs.

    Give Greggory a break, he only gets Dems on there and no one would be allowed to ask a tough question to one their boys. Put Rachel in that chair and she would be just as vanilla.

    What you folks miss is that no one wants truth these days, they just want to hear what they already believe. Sad but true.

  20. collapse expand

    David Gregory lost me at dancing with Karl Rove, and then doing a softball interview of Tony Snow. A newsperson should not lighten up on a Bush mouthpiece because the mouthpiece is seriously sick. If Gregory was hesitant to confront Snow, the proper strategy would have been not to interview.

    • collapse expand

      Everyone knows softball interviews are only for liberals; that’s why the White House is so upset with Fox News. It also proves that Obama and his administration is full of cowards.

      We are always hearing how liberals and especially this President and THIS administration is a veritable all-star team of wunderkids. If that is the case the wunderkids should mop the floor with the slack-jawed mouth breathers at Fox. Why are they afraid?

      Is it because they fact check? Dunn actually complained that Chris Wallace at Fox news fact-checked. I guess this proves the White House point; Fox isn’t a ‘real’news organization. Because ‘real news’ organizations repeated the lies about Limbaugh without fact-checking (Schuster at MSNBC and Sanchez at CNN come to mind but there were others)

      Also remember the ‘real newsman’ Dan Rather and that memo thingy? Yea-no fact checking.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  21. collapse expand

    I agree – Gregory is doing a respectable job w/ MTP, but I don’t go out of my way to watch it. Now, perhaps if MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan were moderating, I’d expect the kind of honest in-depth grilling, MTP had made a reputation on.

  22. collapse expand

    I think that Rachel Maddow would be a great host for Meet The Press Yes, she’s admittedly Progressive, but she’s also very smart and I believe that her priority is getting to the truth and holding those involved in politics accountable. Like most in the media, I believe that David Gregory’s priority is getting access, not getting to the truth. I lost all respect for him after seeing this.


  23. collapse expand

    She’s too partisan for Meet the Press. Maybe her and Fox New’s Sean Hannity should host the show together in order to get the balance that Tim Russert provided by himself.

  24. collapse expand

    I’m afraid I don’t buy the premise that Tim Russert was a good interviewer. MTP “was lost” long before Russert’s passing, Russert was hugely unreliable in his “dogged” determination, he didn’t leave especially large shoes to fill, and his successor could hardly be more of a let-down than Russert was day in and day out, every week. Anyone who watched Russert’s MTP while getting color commentary by Bob Somerby at http://www.thedailyhowler.com knows what I’m talking about. I see some of the commentators above do.

    I’ll take back one thing, though. Russert seemed like a nice fellow, and so does Gregory. That’s more than I can say about the ghastly pool of “mean girls” Washington journalists from which a successor might have been drawn.

  25. collapse expand

    I think Rachel is one of a kind. She is truly sharp, she has passion, and she is looking for the truth. Very seldom do you hear a commentator acknowledge points that her opponent makes. They usually point out that “they aren’t the only ones doing this kind of thing, so why get on my case?” She cuts through the chaff better than anyone I’ve seen in recent memory. It is refreshing to hear her go after some of these dudes. I’m wondering if their agreement to come on her show reflects their need for publicity or their distain that a woman could actually kick their ass?

  26. collapse expand

    Here’s another good reason to hire Rachel Maddow: When she’s called out on a mistake, she apologizes on the air and sets the record straight. That alone, if nothing else, puts her head and shoulders above most of her rivals and all of her detractors.

  27. collapse expand

    Rachel Maddow is lovely, smart and to be taken seriously but she is not objective nor does she pretend to be. So MTP doesn’t fit her strengths.

    Let’s remember Tim Russert wasn’t always Tim Russert. He wasn’t that good when he started.

    While Gregory has managed to learn to mimic Russert’s style and has adjusted to the show’s cookie cutter format, there is a fundamental difference between the two, which DG may or may not be aware of or overcome.

    Russert asked simple direct questions to get the answer to complex issues but one often had the sense that Russert understood that the issues were complex.

    With Gregory, one is less convinced that he understands the COMPLEXITY of issues so the question can appear to be standard “Jimmy Olsen” stuff. He seems to be more interested in simplifying issues to a ‘who, what, when, where and why’ than to use the format to insure that his audience perceives that in simple terms he has actually made them more expert.

    Russert was around a long time before he received the propulsion that came from “Florida, Florida, Florida”. In those three words one understood that he really got it well enough to teach it without one thinking that he was trying to.

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    About Me

    Twitter: @b_donovan

    I am a writer, actor, and North Korean Dictator. Over the years though I've written for everything from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Fox News to Chapelle's Show, and can be seen frequently on Vh1 making snide remarks at the expense of others. Recently I was the Head Writer of "Fair Game", a news and comedy show from Public Radio International. My interests range from news to sports to entertainment, so this blog should read kinda like the evening news, except funnier and with less Brian Williams. Fuck Brian Williams.

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