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It is really this simple: Ted Koppel would be perfect as the new anchor for “Meet The Press.” He has the gravitas, the reportorial chops, and most importantly a great interviewing style. When he was the host of “Nightline,” he slayed his share of government officials, debunked lame government programs, and exposed his share of crazies and dunces (Al Campanis, the swift-boat folk, the post office chief after the anthrax attacks). His in-depth stuff was on par with the best mainstream journalism has ever offered; his reporting from Iraq was stellar. With just a half-hour show, he held his own against Carson, Leno, and Letterman. And he often made news. In the Sunday morning chat competition, he’d have to compete with….?
This past week, Koppel parted ways with Discovery. The former “Nightline” host, agreed to leave his recent gig on the documentary beat six months early. This has the potential to be great news for serious journalism fans—he is now free for consideration for Russert’s post. There is already speculation this could be Koppel’s next move.
Russert was deeply missed during this last election cycle. Not just because of Russert’s enthusiasm (that void was filled by the entire MSNBC channel). No, he was missed because there are few left in journalism that back up their seriousness with real reporting and super tough questioning. Was there a single memorable moment on “Meet The Press” with Brokaw at the helm? I can’t think of one.
Koppel would make “Meet The Press” memorable again. Months ago, Koppel took himself out of the running. But that hasn’t stopped people from already making arguments for the great journalist to take over this Sunday morning staple.
A huge part of what makes “Meet the Press” such must-see TV is the fear factor. People were scared to go on and take questions from Russert. People had to study up. Do you really think people would be scared of David Gregory or Andrea Mitchell? Gregory’s MSNBC show is puffy and dull as dirt any time he goes one-on-one with a guest. Mitchell is a serious reporter who has a lot of scoops to her name but what’s her experience as an interviewer? She brought down one McCain adviser.
But could anyone besides Koppel take down a foolish government official, an Obama aid in over their head?
*photo courtesy of the Observer.