NBC Heavily Pursued Jon Stewart To Host 'Meet The Press'
October 8, 2014

I criticized NBC News heavily for not going after new talent to take over Meet The Press when Tim Russert died in 2008.

I would say that Gregory will be the fill-in host for the time being, but in my mind, he's not strong enough to take over the show full time...


I think NBC has to either promote some local talent that we haven't had a chance to see yet or look outside their circle and find a strong personality to take over the reigns of the number one Sunday talk show that brings in at least fifty million dollars a year.

I'm sure he'll be aggressive enough, but is the talent pool so bad in TV Land that NBC had to fall back on Gregory? I do agree with Tina Brown's suggestion that Rachel Maddow would be a nice choice.

As we know, they chose David Gregory, a typical Beltway insider who coveted his insider bonafides more than being a real journalist, and was so bad, he knocked MTP to #3 on the Sunday talk show ratings. Well, it seemed that they did learn a lesson after that debacle and they went full bore after Comedy Central's Jon Stewart to fill the role. As we've seen, Stewart is a talented interrogator when he wants to be and since he has a disdain for Crossfire-type shows, he would have been a breath of fresh air.

Too bad it didn't work out.

Before choosing Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks. One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually “anything" to bring him over. "They were ready to back the Brink's truck up," the source said. A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment. James Dixon, Stewart's agent, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

It makes sense that NBC would make a run at Stewart. The comedian-cum-media-critic possesses something that broadcast executives covet: a loyal, young audience. And it's not the first time NBC tried recruiting him. According to sources, NBC Entertainment courted Stewart several years ago for a 10 p.m. variety show (the slot ultimately went to Jay Leno). This April, CBS announced Stewart's Comedy Central colleague Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman next year.

Though not a traditional journalist, Stewart can be a devastatingly effective interrogator, and his Meet the Press might have made a worthy successor to Tim Russert’s no-bullshit interviews.

Alas, they were unsuccessful. Stewart, whose Comedy Central contract extends through next year, declined NBC’s aggressive courtship. He probably recognized that much of his audience wouldn't rush to turn on their televisions early on a Sunday morning.

Once again, the viewers lose out. If only Stewart could have taken another sabbatical to try out the MTP format, what a treat that would have been.

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