The folks at NBC News have their work cut out with them, trying to replace the late Tim Russert during such a crucial time in the presidential election. Russert was not just the host of Meet the Press; he also headed operations as the chief of NBC’s Washington bureau. “It’s going to take four or five people to replace Tim,” CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer tells the New York Times.
Though the network has refused to comment on a possible replacement out of respect, speculation has already begun as to who will succeed Russert. The L.A. Times says that the conversation is focusing on three NBC personalities: former White House correspondent David Gregory, who was recently given his own show, Race for the White House; Hardball’s Chris Matthews; and Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe.
The New York Times is also suggesting that evening-news anchor Brian Williams could be a contender as well as chief foreign-affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann (though he is an unlikely choice due to charges of windbaggery).
Katie Couric’s name has also come up, as her contract at CBS is expected to end soon. However, the L.A. Times reports that George Stephanopoulos, host of the No. 2 show, ABC's This Week, is an unlikely candidate because he’s expected to have two more years left on his contract.
Whoever the new host of Meet the Press is, his task will be a formidable one. The show has held the No. 1 slot against competitors every week except one for the last six and a half years. According to Politico, the most recent release listed Meet the Press bringing in 4.1 million total viewers, over 55 percent more than ABC's This Week, which came in second place at 2.6 million.
“Nobody should even think about replacing Tim Russert,” Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Universal, told the New York Times on Sunday. “What someone will need to do is find the next way to do Meet the Press and provide political analysis. Anybody who thinks they can replace Tim Russert is kidding themselves.” —Noelle Hancock