NBC's "Meet the Press" could have gotten a comedy makeover. A report from New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman says the network tried to get Comedy Central's Jon Stewart to take over the show when David Gregory left.
The report quotes an anonymous source saying, "NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually 'anything' to bring him over. 'They were ready to back the Brink's truck up.'"
Obviously, Stewart turned NBC down and the job went to Chuck Todd, who began hosting the show last month.
But the news that NBC sought out Stewart ruffled a few feathers. "Meet the Press" is the longest-running TV series in U.S. history, meaning it's anchor chair is considered a place of honor by many journalists.
But the show has fallen on hard times. Following the unexpected death of host Tim Russert in 2008, the show slipped to third place among Sunday shows and has had a hard time attracting audiences.
So maybe NBC was just trying to think outside the box? The report adds, "The comedian-cum-media-critic possesses something that broadcast executives covet: a loyal, young audience."
But a lot of journalists weren't pleased with the story. Mostly because, as Stewart freely admits, he's not a journalist — he's a comedian.
Conservative site NewsBusters slammed NBC, saying Stewart routinely lobs softball questions to liberal guests like Hillary Clinton. "This is the man NBC wanted to anchor Meet the Press during the next presidential election?"
But some liberals weren't happy, either. Multiple sites pointed to Stewart's tough interview with former Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as proof of his chops, but Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum says, "Jon Stewart is a terrible interviewer. He's congenitally unprepared for any serious policy discussion and frequently creates awkward moments where he literally seems to have run out of anything to say."
Ouch. At any rate, it didn't happen. Stewart is still hosting "The Daily Show" and Chuck Todd is at "Meet the Press."
But Todd did have a little fun with the story, tweeting out a mashup of the shows' taglines, saying "If it's Sunday, it's your moment of zen."
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