“Meet the Press” is marking a milestone 75 years in the making.
The NBC Sunday morning show — the longest-running TV program in history — celebrated its 75th anniversary with a bash at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington on Monday.
Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator since 2014, told a packed crowd of lawmakers, journalists, and political insiders, “What I always like to say about ‘Meet the Press’ is I hope you’re uncomfortable for five minutes every Sunday.”
“I hope something you hear, something that’s reported, challenges your views, because we’re not here to tell you what you want to here. We’re here to tell you what you need to hear,” Todd said.
“I don’t cover politics as I wish it were, I cover politics as it is,” he added, saying “arrows get thrown” at him by critics on both sides of the aisle.
“Why do we have politics in the first place? We have politics to settle disputes without violence,” Todd, 50, said.
“It is OK to compromise. It is OK to disagree. But at some point, you got to figure it out so that we don’t resort to violence to get our way. And I’ll be honest with you, when I first got handed this baton, I never thought I’d have to say that,” he continued.
“But sadly, politics has become a little pugilistic.”
A who’s who of Washington was seen mixing and mingling as classic clips from “Meet the Press’s” history — including a 1959 sit-down with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, a 1963 interview with Martin Luther King Jr., and more recent history when then-President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said in 2018 that “truth isn’t truth” — played on TV screens.
“Not every show has a 75th anniversary, right?” Betsy Fischer Martin, “Meet the Press’s” longtime former executive producer, told ITK. “No show does — it’s the longest running one!” she exclaimed.
Martin said working Sunday mornings for so long, she still has some flashbacks to her weekends getting blown up by earthshaking and rundown-shattering headlines.
“If there’s breaking news on a Saturday night at like 2 in the morning, I have a moment of like, ‘Thank God I don’t have to deal with it!’ ” Martin said.
Asked if he’s able to sleep in on Mondays, Todd quipped, “You don’t get to sleep in if you have kids or dogs. I have both!”
“Monday is just a day I don’t have to worry about shaving,” Todd grinned.
But in a changing media landscape, does the show’s 12th moderator think one day “Meet the Press” will be marking its 150th anniversary?
“I think that’s the whole point of trying to make ‘Meet the Press’ a brand and not a TV show, so that it does survive the next step or the next iteration,” Todd told ITK. The daily “Meet the Press NOW” launched on the streaming platform NBC News NOW in June.
“I also believe that with every new technology there’s fragmentation, and then we come back — trusted brands survive,” he said.
“If people don’t gather on Sunday morning at that same time, that doesn’t mean you still don’t want that show to exist.”
Among the political figures eyed: former White House press secretary-turned-Peacock host Jen Psaki in conversation with White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu; Anthony Fauci chatting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; Luke Russert, a former Capitol Hill reporter and son of late “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert, hugging and catching up with Todd; Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio); Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Blake Moore (R-Utah), Ben Cline (R-Va.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) and Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.); White House senior adviser Neera Tanden; President Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn; under secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and former Vice President Mike Pence chief of staff Marc Short.
Other media personalities at the anniversary shindig included: MSNBC President Rashida Jones, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, NBC News chief Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC anchor Symone Sanders, NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker, “Meet the Press” senior vice president Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC News senior White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, CNBC President KC Sullivan, NBC News senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson, former “Meet the Press” executive producer Barbara Cochran, Maureen Orth, Bill Press, Doug Heye, Cook Political Report’s Jessica Taylor, Jackie Kucinich, USA Today White House correspondent Francesca Chambers and Michael Moroney, Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason and CNN’s Sam Feist, Jim Acosta and Matt Dornic.
Todd joked to the crowd that whenever he’s introduced, it’s noted that “Meet the Press” is the longest-running TV show ever. Upon that introduction, Todd said he thinks to himself, “I just don’t want to be the last moderator.”
“I don’t own this,” Todd said of his “Meet the Press” role.
“I’m just house-sitting,” he said, “and I want to leave it in better shape for the next person.”