Not for the first time do I find myself wondering what happened to the powerful institution that once was the epitome of Sunday morning news programs. For decades NBC’s Meet The Press set the tone and style for what a serious open-ended interview show should look like as it dissected important events of the week with a top newsmaker. The much respected Tim Russert would spend the first half hour with one guest exploring in great detail the complexities of some domestic or foreign policy concern. Russert obviously had spent considerable time preparing for the interview as he had various avenues of approach to ferreting out complete answers from newsmakers.
Now far too often the show opens with host David Gregory throwing questions to a panel of talking heads, who while all talented and informative, are not the reason most people tune into Meet The Press. Viewers want to see the hard-hitting interviews and walk away more engaged on this or that topic.
But that is no longer the case with this long-running show as it is most apparent they are being coached by consultants who have ‘informed’ them that shorter segments and numerous topics per show is more in tune with the viewing habits of Americans. As a result of such changes to this show it is hard to distinguish this hour on Sunday morning to any other during the weekday on any all-news cable station. That is one sad statement to have to post on this blog.
The very reason Meet The Press or Face or The Nation are special is the time that can be allotted to mining down in an interview to get to what matters for the audience that tunes in to watch. And learn. I still think there is a unique demographic that makes a point to getting up and watching these broadcasts on Sunday morning, and they can not be pleased with the changes at NBC.
I am not suggesting that Gregory is solely to blame for the downward tone of the show. But I do suggest that Russert would never allow what passes now over the air to have happened on his watch. There are clearly forces at work by some to make Meet The Press stronger in the ratings. But if that is the intent they are losing the soul of the show, and the very reason it became an institution in the first place.