Chuck Todd's Influence

I agree with Dan that David Gregory's debut as Meet the Press host was inauspicious. Gregory did seem to go easy on Condi Rice. He also continued the Russert prediliction -- in both the interview and the roundtable -- of spending an awful lot of time reading quotes and showing clips in the process of getting around to asking a question.

More broadly -- and what I think Dan might have been picking up on -- is that Gregory seems like he will continue and perhaps accelerate what I think of as "conventional wisdom interviewing." It's not just a matter of horse-race politics trumping substance. It's that everything -- what topics to discuss, what questions to ask, how those questions get phrased -- always seems predicated on assumptions and opinions formed by the same circle of people.

That problem permeates NBC and MSNBC, and figures to only increase with the further elevation of Chuck Todd. Todd is a terrific political analyst. But he should be kept in that box -- he's a guy to interview about politics, not a guy to be leading the overall coverage.

(Side note: why do all of NBC's top on-air political people -- David Gregory, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell -- have two first names? And would Chris Matthews get to be on the big network if he dropped the "s" to fit in?)

Todd was reportedly a finalist for the MtP job, which seems to me would have been a disaster: can you picture him asking serious, urgent policy questions of a major cabinet secretary, or foreign head of state? Now he will be the White House correspondent and MtP contributing editor. I suspect that and the Gregory choice are leading indicators of the direction of NBC's political coverage.

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