It looks like NBC never wanted Chuck Todd to replace David Gregory as the host of Meet The Press. It is being reported that the real host that NBC wanted was Jon Stewart.
According to New York Magazine:
Before choosing Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks. One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually “anything” to bring him over. “They were ready to back the Brink’s truck up,” the source said. A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment. James Dixon, Stewart’s agent, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
It makes sense that NBC would make a run at Stewart. The comedian-cum-media-critic possesses something that broadcast executives covet: a loyal, young audience. And it’s not the first time NBC tried recruiting him. According to sources, NBC Entertainment courted Stewart several years ago for a 10 p.m. variety show (the slot ultimately went to Jay Leno). This April, CBS announced Stewart’s Comedy Central colleague Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman next year.
Jon Stewart turned down NBC’s offer to host Meet The Press. The Daily Show host would have been insane to accept the offer. Stewart’s interview with President Obama during the 2012 election is widely regarded as the best candidate interview of that year, but Meet The Press is a total disaster right now.
If NBC could have hired Jon Stewart for Meet The Press, it would have been a genre changing move. Stewart could have reinvented the stale Sunday show format. The comedy would have been minimized, but the insightful media criticism would have been something that has never been seen on the corporate bankrolled Sunday shows.
There is one obvious reason Stewart was correct to turn down the offer. The difference between 11:30 on weeknights and Sunday mornings is huge. There is no guarantee that Stewart’s viewers would have followed him to NBC. Getting his younger viewership into the habit of turning on the Sunday shows that they shun in droves would have been a tall order.
Stewart would have been great for Meet The Press, but Meet The Press might not have been so good for Jon Stewart. Stewart is probably best off doing his thing on Comedy Central. Meet The Press is still an abyss of failure under Chuck Todd. It might be beyond even Jon Stewart’s abilities to save Meet The Press.