I was kinda disappointed that David Gregory was selected as the New Meet the Press host. It’s nothing against Gregory; he seems like a nice enough, intelligent enough guy. His first show wasn’t a disaster, per se. He just doesn’t seem to have many accomplishments or distinguishing characteristics though — he’s no Gwen Ifill. Gwen Ifill would have seemed to be the natural choice and it’s hard to even comprehend why she wasn’t chosen. She’s incisive, brilliant, distinguished and compelling. And I ain’t saying that just because I heard she reads JJP. It just seems like the powers-that-be decided to go with retrograde status quo except younger and less likely to have a heart attack on the job. From the S.F. Chronicle:

…the Sunday shows were more diverse a half century ago: “Meet the Press” was co-founded by Martha Rountree, who was also its first moderator, in 1947. She, Lesley Stahl, the 1983-91 “Face the Nation” moderator, and Cokie Roberts, the 1996-2002 “This Week” co-host, are the only women to lead a Sunday show.

Martha Rountree, by the by, was a bad mama jama. Her conception of this show was as innovative and status quo shaking as the blogs are today. Check out this review of MTP from Time Magazine in 1951:

Terrier-like Producer (Lawrence) Spivak, onetime (1944-1950) editor & publisher of the American Mercury and the only permanent member of the reporters’ panel, often gets a tenacious grip on an evasive guest and shakes damaging admissions from him. Other members of the shifting, four-man panel come from the top drawer of the U.S. press, and many a bigwig has winced under the volley of questions from such reporters as the New York Times’s “Scotty” Reston, Raymond Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, U.P.’s Merriman Smith, and Columnists Marquis Childs and Drew Pearson.

When the issues are large, tempers are often short. Ex-Ambassador to China Pat Hurley verbally flayed two newsmen on the show. After Elliott Roosevelt’s appearance, one of his friends punched Radio Commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. In the same melee, Moderator Rountree got a sprained thumb.

When’s the last time you heard a reporter called “terrier-like”, “tenacious” or “damaging”? When’s the last a bigwig winced when having to face reporters on Meet the Press?

Sooo…just to recap, we’ve actually gone backwards on the Sunday morning talk shows rather than a more inclusive, dynamic & stimulating profile that factors in a political America that is participatory, multicultural, fully dual gender and online.

…roughly 80 percent of the newsmakers and pundits who have appeared on the shows over the past eight years also have been white men, according to an ongoing study by the liberal think tank Media Matters for America. (The organization’s latest figures for “Fox News Sunday” are from 2005-06. In that period, 80 percent of the show’s guests were male and 82 percent were white.)

The study found those percentages hardly changed in 2008, even as an African American and a woman battled for the Democratic presidential nomination, a woman was on the Republican ticket, and the political landscape was reshaped by the increased participation of African Americans, Latinos, and online activists and journalists.

“America is changing rapidly,” said Margot Friedman, a communications consultant to liberal organizations and founder of the online campaign dontletNBCdiswomen.org, which had aimed to land a female host on “Meet the Press.” “And yet if you tune in to the TV on Sunday morning, you might think you were in the 1950s.”

I hope Gregory will consider adding new voices and channels to Meet the Press — voices that include the new citizen journalism and that reflect the America we are today. I give CNN a lot of credit for their incorporation of YouTube, twitter, bloggers and other Web 2.0 innovations into their programming. Meet the Press should look more like Meet the Bloggers and less like Mad Men. Find above someone’s top ten most unPC moments in Mad Men. Gregory — I really hope you can do better and be better  than this.

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