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Filling Big Tim’s Shoes

Courtesy of The New York Times

Courtesy of The New York Times

It’s no secret that Tim Russert stamped the Sunday morning political affairs news show “Meet the Press” with his own unique brand. Since is death in June 2008 (RIP) NBC has been struggling to fill the anchor seat now being kept warm by Tom Brokaw. I don’t envy the jobs of NBC’s network executives.

The New York Times has an interesting column regarding this arduous task. They list various people from the NBC news family, and beyond, who are on the short list to fill the slot. Chuck Todd, NBC Political Director, who has been making his face known this election period is a possible replacement. David Gregory, NBC Chief White House Correspondent is on the list. Andrea Mitchell, a well known face at NBC who handles foreign affairs, and a host of journalistic tasks, is on that list. Coming from outside NBC you have Grwen Ifill, who hosts “Washington Week” on PBS (she used to work for NBC way back); Katie Couric, who anchors “CBS Evening News” is being tossed around as she co-hosted the hugely popular and successful “Today Show”; Ted Koppel has also been thrown in there.

All interesting, and capable anchors. That said, NBC should take a step back and ponder more options. I’ll give you 3.

My humble suggestion for NBC Universal would be to either – 1) Bring in Brian Williams from “Nightly News” and shift Andrea Mitchell to fill the vacated “Nightly News” slot. Brian is a known face and his credentials are cemented enough to not be overshadowed by Tim Russert. He is acutely aware of what it is like to be on such a stage, and have to perform day in and day out. NBC would do itself and the television viewing community a great service by putting Brian Williams in the moderators seat. And by moving Andrea to the “Nightly News” slot it gives that show a solid anchor. Andrea is as good as they come.

2) Just give the slot to Andrea Mitchell. She has all you need for the job. Sometimes though I get the feeling she likes being the guest more than a central host figure. That would be my only reservation.

3) The final option would be to go totally out of the way, and bring in a fresh face. Hold massive auditions/job interviews. When Tim Russert came in he had worked his way up in the ranks, but for the most part he was a shot in the arm – a fresh face. Maybe that is what NBC needs. Someone who can create his/her own brand.

Whatever NBC does in trying to fill the vacuum left by Tim Russert it has to choose someone who, from day 1, will keep the credibility and integrity of the show. Tim definitely showed his emotions, and in some cases his political leanings, but he was always a professional who never condescended guests. The person coming in has to be able to at least fill those shoes. Hard shoes to fill by anyone’s standards.


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  1. January 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

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