Who Will Be the Next Moderator of “Meet the Press”?

by on June 20th, 2008

The unfortunate and untimely death of Tim Russert means that NBC will soon have to pick someone to succeed him at its long-running Sunday morning interview program, Meet the Press. While the general consensus seems to be that retired NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw will take the job on an interim basis (probably until after the presidential election in November), it is anyone’s guess who the new permanent moderator might be.

NBC has many potential candidates — including a lot of young talent — within its own network and its cable affiliates MSNBC and CNBC that it could consider. Of those, I believe longtime correspondent Andrea Mitchell (no relation this writer) is an early favorite to be selected. There is precedent for a female moderator on the program. Martha Rountree, who was also the show’s founder, was the original host when it debuted in 1947.

Another favorite within the NBC family is correspondent David Gregory, who has substituted on the show for Russert on several occasions. He also hosts the MSNBC program, Race for the White House. One other potential frontrunner for the job might be current NBC Nightly News correspondent and former Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams.

Among other in-house personnel that might be considered are Today anchor Bryant Gumbel; Today host Matt Lauer; Lester Holt, co-host of Weekend Today and weekend anchor for NBC Nightly News; chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski; NBC Nightly News correspondent George Lewis; Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel; Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball; Joe Scarborough, host of that same cable network’s Morning Joe; political director Chuck Todd (although he is more likely to be moved into the Washington Bureau Chief job); Morning Joe co-host, current NBC Nightly News correspondent, and former CBS Evening News correspondent Mika Brzezinski; Dan Abrams, host of MSNBC’s Verdict with Dan Abrams; Today anchor and Dateline NBC host Ann Curry; Carl Quintanilla, co-host of CNBC’s Squawk Box; NBC Nightly News correspondent David Shuster; and Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Of course, NBC might ultimately turn to someone from the outside to take the job. Among the possibilities there are CNN’s Chief National Correspondent John King; current CBS Evening News anchor and former Today host Katie Couric; Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN’s The Situation Room and Late Edition; Dan Rather, current anchor of Dan Rather Reports on HDNet and former anchor of CBS Evening News; Campbell Brown, current CNN anchor and former co-host of NBC’s Weekend Today; John Roberts, current CNN anchor and formerly the Chief White House Correspondent at CBS; former Dateline NBC co-host Stone Phillips; current CNN correspondent and former NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Joe Johns; Chip Reid, current Congressional correspondent for CBS Evening News and former Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC Nightly News; Judy Woodruff, current PBS anchor and former Chief White House Correspondent for NBC; 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft; and Anderson Cooper, host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

It’s going to be hard enough to replace a guy like Tim Russert as it is. But with all of those choices, it’s going to be even tougher. I wouldn’t want to have the task of making this decision. Perhaps NBC should consider borrowing someone from John McCain’s or Barack Obama’s vice-presidential search committees to help make this selection.

Terry Mitchell