Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie: Not Your ‘Cookie-Cutter Anchors’

By Alex Weprin 

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NBC’s Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie are profiled by Howard Kurtz in today’s Washington Post. The story focuses on how today’s White House reporters have to be present on all platforms: on-air, online in text articles and blog posts, and of course, on Twitter.

Kurtz holds up Todd and Guthrie, who anchor the 9 a.m. MSNBC program “The Daily Rundown,” as examples of what a modern multimedia reporter should be.

He also asks them what makes their show different than other cable news political programs.

The two also depart from the format of much of MSNBC’s programming in rejecting what they call “fake” debates. “We never have left-right” guests, Todd says. For them, avoiding such partisan face-offs “is an obsession.”

“We’re trying to bring news back to cable,” Guthrie says. She shoots a glance at a publicist: “Am I allowed to say that?”

Todd also reveals that he tried to convince MSNBC president Phil griffin to do wall-to-wall coverage of last Tuesday’s primary elections, but that griffin demurred.

When the topic of discussion turned to President Obama, Todd offers his own theory as to why the President is so vociferous a critic of today’s media-driven culture…

Despite his newfound prominence, Todd, like his colleagues, has limited access to the man he is covering. “Obama himself is the one who doesn’t like dealing with the press,” he says, exonerating the White House staff. “You can’t even do shouted questions.”

Todd, who first met Obama in 2002, when the then-Illinois state senator came to a meeting at Hotline, has a theory about Obama’s frequent criticism of the 24/7 media culture. Once Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004, “he didn’t need to woo the press anymore. The press was there at the drop of a hat. To him, almost all the experience with the press is invasive. . . . He’s developed this disdain for us.”

The profile was not without controversy however. Guthrie took issue with one line from Kurtz’s piece:

Peering over the shoulder of his co-host, Savannah Guthrie, he bats around phrases for the opening script on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Washington. Moments later Guthrie, wearing a ruffled white blouse and thigh-high boots, raises her BlackBerry in triumph.

Guthrie responded, of course, on Twitter:

The ball is in your court Kurtz.