UPDATE: Chuck Todd signed off of his final broadcast as moderator of NBC News’s Meet the Press by handing his successor, Kristen Welker, a reliable alarm clock and telling viewers that he’ll be focusing on network projects tied to bridging the political divide.
Welker appeared in the final minutes of Sunday’s show, with a montage of her asking hard-hitting questions at a presidential debate in 2020 and of other notable figures.
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“You have left very big shoes to fill and I just want to make you proud,” Welker told Todd.
“I take this responsibility so seriously,” Welker said. “I am ready because you have helped me get ready, Chuck. You’re someone who invests in the people who you care about and you have invested in me, and I am just so eternally grateful for that.” She credited Todd for bringing her to D.C. and teaching her “just about everything I know about politics.”
Todd asked Welker what her plans were for the show.
“I want to approach this as a reporter,” she said. “That’s who I am. That’s who I always have been. I have covered three administrations now — the Obama administration, the Trump administration, the Biden administration. I’ve traveled all over the world with all of these presidents. And I really want to bring that to the show every Sunday, to make sure that we are giving our viewers the information that they need.”
Welker starts on the show next week.
“We are living in a world in which we are deeply divided as a country,” Welker said. “And so my thoughts are, I need to be keeping my finger on the pulse of what matters to voters. I am going to be out on the trail. I’m going to be bringing their questions here to the moderator’s desk. And you have always said the role of the moderator is to bring Washington to the rest of America and visa versa. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s one I take very seriously.”
In his final words on the telecast, Todd said, “One thing we will lament, we all lament lately, is the lack of knowledge and nuance in our politics and citizenship.” He said that he planned to try to address that at the network in continued news coverage and in documentaries and docudramas “focused on bridging our divides, piercing these political bubbles.” He also will serve as chief political analyst for the network.
After his signoff, NBCU News Group Chairman Cesar Conde and Rebecca Blumenstein, NBC News president of editorial, joined with Welker and other colleagues and journalists to toast Todd.
PREVIOUSLY: Chuck Todd opened his final broadcast as moderator of NBC News’s Meet the Press by telling viewers that it was an understatement to call the gig “an honor and privilege of my lifetime.”
“This is simply the pinnacle of political journalism, something my younger self never would have imagined,” said Todd, who announced in June that he was stepping down from the role.
“No matter how much of a grind that the current political climate is, wearing my down on any given day, I still always have had a ‘pinch me, I can’t believe it feeling every time I hear my name introduced as the moderator of the longest running show in the history of television.’ In fact, I used to joke my goal is not to be the last moderator of the longest running show in American history, and I have achieved that goal and then some.”
Kristen Welker will succeed Todd as moderator next week. When she does, all of the major networks’ Sunday morning shows will have a woman as moderator or co-moderator for the first time.
Todd’s final show featured California Governor Gavin Newsom and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) as guests. Todd noted that his sign off comes as both parties “find themselves at a crossroads.”
“Many leaders in both parties desperately want to start looking toward the future,” Todd said. “But as you know, both parties are stuck in the present, and voters are exhausted by it.”
Todd has been moderator of Meet the Press for nine years, having done more than 430 broadcasts. His announcement in June came amid speculation that a change was imminent, after David P. Gelles was hired as executive producer last year, succeeding John Reiss.
Todd will continue at the network as chief political analyst, and said in June that he planned to work on docuseries and docudramas “focused on trying to bridge our divides and pierce political troubles.”
Meet the Press is the longest running show in TV history, having debuted in 1947. Tim Russert had the longest tenure as moderator, at 17 years until his death in 2008.
More to come.
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