NBC’s Chuck Todd on ‘The Biggest Fear’ He Lives With

By Chris Ariens 

In the 22 months since Chuck Todd has been hosting NBC’s Meet the Press, the venerable Sunday show has gone from third to first in the A25-54 demo and from third to a close second in total viewers.

No.1 was a familiar spot for Meet the Press in the 17 years that Tim Russert hosted the show until his untimely death eight years ago. And it’s the 69-year legacy–the show debuted in 1947–that keeps Todd awake at night. But it’s nothing a little Family Guy can’t fix.

We talked to Todd last night, just before the first prime time session of the Republican National Convention got underway. The NBC News political director is also a part of NBC’s prime time specials, he’s also hosting MSNBC’s Meet the Press daily and appearing on other MSNBC shows. 


TVNewser: So day one we had a little bit of drama. You all were prepared for it, but how did it play out from your perspective?

Todd: You knew there was going to be that moment where the Colorado delegation was going to try something. Maybe in the days ahead we’ll find out they did have enough votes. But it ended the way I expected. You can essentially gavel your way out of problems at a convention. The Democrats did it four years ago. I just hope we haven’t experienced the most exiting unscripted moment of the next two weeks, but my fear is that we have just experienced the most exciting unscripted moment of the next two weeks.

TVNewser: Of the conventions you’ve covered how would you rank it?

Todd: This is easily the most unique unscripted moment I’ve experienced. It ain’t ’84, it ain’t ’80, but for this generation it’s pretty big.

TVNewser: What do you expect next week in Philadelphia?

Todd: I think it’s going to be a lot less. You might find some interesting Bernie things outside the hall. But they’ve reconciled. Is it possible? Yes. But it’s unlikely.

TVNewser: You work at a pretty frenetic pace, but do you ever stop and think what it means to be hosting the longest running show on television?

Todd: Yeah, it means I don’t want to be the last person that anchors the longest-running television show ever. That is the biggest fear I live with. I want to hand it off in great shape to the next person.

TVNewser: And how long do you want to do it?

Todd: As long as they’ll have me. It’s the best political television job, period. There’s no second.

TVNewser: And you’re also hosting Meet the Press Daily on MSNBC, do you plan to keep doing that after the election?

Todd: I would be surprised if it was an election year thing. That would be news to me. We have so much going on.

RNC-adweek-4x3-a-2016TVNewser: You came from print, as did CBS’s John Dickerson and CNN’s Jake Tapper, what is it about that background, not TV first, that makes you all fit for this kind of TV job?

Todd: I think all of television is transitioning to this. If you see the background of people that are on television. There was time when it was myself, Jake, Norah [O’Donnell], Ed Henry, and Major Garrett, we were all White House corespondents at the same time and we all came from print. Look at medical journalists, more and more [news divisions] wanted a doctor to be a reporter. That is the expectation of TV news. I don’t believe were in the ‘what’ business anymore, I  believe we’re in the ‘why’ business.

TVNewser: What TV shows do you like to watch?

Todd: My assignment for the next two weeks is to binge [Showtime’s] Ray Donovan, to catch up to my wife. I’m way behind. We’re both into Mr. Robot. It’s both fascinating and it scares me. It’s a little of a ‘boy, we could make society crumble quickly.’ And when I just need to veg out I’m a Family Guy guy.

TVNewser: What news shows do you watch?

Todd: Real Sports. That’s on the DVR. I watch all the Sunday Shows. They’re on the DVR.