Jon Stewart confirmed in an interview that NBC did try to hire the late night comedian to host Meet The Press, but Stewart never seriously considered their offer.
The Daily Show host told Rolling Stone,
My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could,” he says. “I’m sure part of them was thinking, ‘Why don’t we just make it a variety show?'”
Stewart says he never seriously considered taking the gig. “I felt like that was one of those situations,” he says, “where someone says, ‘We really like what you do. Why don’t you come over here and do something different, maybe something you don’t do as well, for us?’ I can understand notionally where it comes from. News and entertainment have melded in a way. But they would be overcompensating on the entertainment side. That’s certainly not an outlandish decision, although I don’t necessarily think that’s the best direction for it.”
What’s more like is that NBC understood that Stewart is a top notch interviewer, who could have brought an instant intellectual infusion to Meet The Press. Stewart’s reason for not wanting to move to Sunday mornings makes perfect sense. What if he was no good at doing a serious news show?
Jon Stewart is a comedian. Without comedy to fall back on, what kind of show would he be able to do? Stewart probably could have been just as successful on Meet The Press as he has been with The Daily Show, but if he would have taken over Meet The Press, it would have had to have changed into more of an entertainment show.
The interesting thing is that Stewart would have brought a different audience to Sunday mornings. He would have shaken up the stuffy and stale Sunday shows. I can’t see Stewart be happy with sitting a studio while John McCain rattles off the nine millionth version of the same pro-war talking points that he has been using for decades.
In the end, NBC was forced to settle for the stale, stuffy, and oh so Beltway conventional Chuck Todd. It is a shame that the country will never get to see what Jon Stewart could have done with a Sunday morning political talk show.
Stewart seems to know his limitations, so it was probably best for everyone that he decided to stick with Comedy Central and let someone else go down with the sinking Meet The Press ship.