Chuck Todd officially signed off from Meet the Press—the longest running show on television—yesterday, and the final guest of his nine-year run at the helm was the journalist he’s officially passing the MTP baton off to: Kristen Welker.
Towards the end of the broadcast, Welker joined Todd at the Meet the Press desk for his final segment as moderator.
Welker: I just want to say I am also so thankful and grateful to you for this moment for entrusting me with this monumental, important role. I take this responsibility so seriously. I’m ready because you have helped me get ready, Chuck. You are someone who invests in the people that you care about and you have invested in me, and I am just so eternally grateful for that. I’ve said it before, I think it bears repeating, you brought me to DC. You taught me just about everything I know about politics. And I say that a lot, but just to give folks a sense of what I actually mean by that, one of the things that sticks in my mind is you were at a news conference in 2013. Former President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu. We were covering the White House at the same time. This was in Jerusalem. You asked more questions than any other reporter. And it was a message to me that you have to have the courage, you have to have the competence to ask the tough questions and to ask as many questions as needed to be asked.Advertisement
Todd: It’s not a popularity contest.
Welker: It’s not a popularity contest. And I remember thinking to myself in that moment, you have to push yourself harder, Kristen. You have to ask tougher questions. You have to make sure you’re getting in the follows. The best part about all of this is that you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to be on speed dial for me.
Todd: You push yourself hard. You work really hard. You prepare. You out-prepare so many people. Tell me this, I had my own thing that I wanted to bring. I wanted to bring more data to what we did and all this stuff. What’s something you want to bring that you think will be unique to you, your tenure as moderator?
Welker: Well, I want to approach this as a reporter. That’s why I’ve always been. I’ve covered three administration’s 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. Now my beat, by the way, is all of Washington, the campaign trail, and frankly, the world, and I want to be asking those tough questions. I want to be making you proud. I want to be building on the legacy of this show.
Todd then served up parting remarks to the Meet the Press viewing audience, bringing up legendary NBC News figures like Tom Brokaw, David Brinkley and the late Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert.
On my first day on the job of Meet The Press, I was handed an audience survey of Sunday show viewers and the number one reason folks said they tuned in was not because the person was behind the chair or the guests, it was simply to get educated.
So for nearly a decade, I’ve had the honor of helping to explain America to Washington and Washington to America, as Kristen just quoted me about. And it’s that education piece that I’m hanging my hat on for the rest of my professional life.
One thing we will lament we all lament lately is the lack of knowledge and nuance in our politics and citizenship. That’s a vacuum I hope to continue to fill whether in our continued news coverage here at NBC via other venues like docu-series, docu-dramas, focused on bridging our divides, piercing these political bubbles.
And I will continue, of course to be a big part of NBC’s political coverage because, as Tom Brokaw said to me, “Look, some networks do some things well, but nobody does politics like NBC,” and he was referring back all the way to David Brinkley. And that is sort of the tradition I’ve always sent from Brinkley to Russert, and that’s the stuff I want to carry on. That’s the stuff Kristen is going to carry on.
I also could not have done this job for the last nine years without the team that you don’t see on television. The producers control room, the crew, editors, the artists make the show look like an incredible production every week. I get up early. They get up earlier. Television is a team sport and I’m proud to be a member of this team and stay a member of this team even as a spectator, a cheerleader, and an advisor.
So that’s all for today. Thanks for watching, and for so many years of loyalty to me and to the show. I’m happy to say my colleague Kristen Welker is going to be here next week because doesn’t matter who sits in this chair, if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.
Following the broadcast, many of Todd’s NBC News colleagues and friends gathered at the organization’s Washington Bureau Sunday morning to toast and celebrate Todd’s tenure leading the public affairs program.
“You push yourself hard. You work really hard. You prepare. You out-prepare so many people,” Todd told Welker before presenting her an on-air gift: his vintage, battery-backup alarm clock that has kept him on time Sunday mornings for nearly a decade.
Welker shared some personal memories, namely her first on-air crosstalk with Chuck. “The very first political assignment I got was to cover the Senate race in Alaska, which happened in June … but I also got to do my first live shot with Chuck and Savannah [Guthrie]. And it was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. So you can only imagine how it felt when I spoke to chuck and he said, ‘we’re gonna bring you to the White House to cover the Obama administration’ … It was quite literally a professional dream come true.”
Todd thanked the room, and shared some inspiration from his mentor and the late Tim Russert: “The thing that I’ve learned from Tim is just because you work at a big company doesn’t mean you can’t be an entrepreneur, that you can’t be your own disrupter. Tim has a disruptive. Tim disrupted the Sunday morning paradigm … And he set a standard that a whole bunch of people started copying, including me. … That’s what I love about being at NBC … I’m kind of an entrepreneur at heart … and it’s been fun that NBC embraces it.”
NBCU News Group chairman Cesar Conde and NBC News editorial president Rebecca Blumenstein were joined at the post-broadcast party by the following NBC Newsers:
- Chuck Todd
- Monica Alba
- Kimberly Atkins Stohr
- Cornell Belcher
- Barbara and John Cochran
- Kristian Denny Todd
- Sena Fitzmaurice
- Hallie Jackson
- Courtney Kube
- Carol Lee
- Susan Page
- Danielle Pletka
- Jen Psaki
- Luke Russert
- Symone Sanders-Townsend
- Jake Sherman
- Ali Vitali
- Amy Walter
- Kristen Welker
- Pete Williams
- Amna Nawaz
- Donna Edwards
- Neal Katyal
- Ruth Marcus