The Press, America's longest-running television series premiered
on NBC-TV 6 November 1947. This exceptionally successful program
was the first to bring Washington politics into American living-rooms.
E. Spivak debuted the program in 1945 as a radio program to promote
his magazine American Mercury. After Meet the Press
moved to television, Spivak continued to serve as producer, regular
panelist, and later, as moderator. He retired from the series in
Meet the Press aired in a 30-minute, live press conference
format. In this format, a political newsmaker essentially was interviewed
by a panel of newspaper journalists. Currently, Meet the Press
is presented as an one hour interview program. According to Kathleen
Hall Jamieson, interview programs are far more successful than press
conferences or debates because neither the follow-up by the reporter,
nor the length of the candidates answers, is artificially constrained.
Meet the Press' contemporary format consists of three interview
segments with guests of national and international importance, followed
by a roundtable discussion. The host, Tim Russert, is joined by
two other journalists during the initial questioning periods and
by three other journalists during the roundtable discussion.
joined Meet the Press as moderator 8 December 1991. He came
to the program with a thorough understanding of Capitol Hill politics,
having previously served as Counselor to New York Governor Mario
Cuomo and as Special Counsel and Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator
Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He also is well aware of how journalists
cover politics. He has served as senior vice president and Washington,
D.C. Bureau Chief for NBC since December 1988.
to a former NBC producer, "Tim has an enormous amount of power right
now to make and influence [government] policy on Meet the Press."
On Meet the Press, questions are asked of political personalities
in hopes of moving the political process forward or, at least, moving
it along. Indeed, as Jamieson points out, key political confrontations
have occurred on this forum:
1964: The only serious confrontation between the press and
a member of the Democratic ticket over Johnson's 1964 "Daisy Girl"
20 January 1980: David Broder asked President Carter, "[W]e
still have 5.8% unemployment; inflation has risen from 4.8% to
13%. We still don't have a viable energy policy. Russian troops
are in Cuba and Afghanistan. The dollar is falling; gold is rising,
and the hostages after 78 days are still in Tehran. Just what
have you done sir, to deserve renomination?"
14 January 1984: Vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro
is asked and complains about being asked if she "could push the
3 May 1992: Independent presidential contender H. Ross
Perot disclaimed his assertion that the government could "easily"
save $100 billion by cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits
for "folks just like" him.
the Press produces high levels of candidate accountability,
traditionally it has attracted small audience shares. When the show
premiered, it aired on Wednesday nights after 10:00 P.M. Later,
it was moved to Monday, then to Saturday. In the mid-1960s, Meet
the Press found its niche on Sunday afternoons. Today, it airs via
network feed on Sundays from 9:30 to 10:30 A.M.
senior producer of Meet the Press is Betty Cole Dukert, and
Colette Rhoney serves as the show's producer. The program originates
from Washington D.C. Yet, the show travels when world events necessitate
major news. Cites have included: the 1988 and 1992 Republican and
Democratic conventions, the 1993 Clinton-Yeltsin Summit in Vancouver,
the 1990 Helsinki Summit, the 1989 United States-Soviet Summit on
the island of Malta, and the 1989 Economic Summit of Industrialized
Nations in Paris.
in Washington D.C., or on location at an event of political importance,
the discussions aired on Meet the Press often generate headlines
in the mainstream media. Today, Meet the Press continues
to engage viewers in the political process.
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York: Times Books, 1977.
J. "NBC's Tim Russert: The Insider." Columbia Journalism Review
(New York), 1992.
Jamieson, K. H. Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Heidi. Meet the Press. (research report). New York: NBC News
_______________. Timothy J. Russert: Moderator, Meet The Press;
Senior Vice President And Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News. (research
report). New York: NBC News Information, 1994.
V ., editor. The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs
1947-1976. New York: Barnes, 1976.