NBC Originally Wanted Jon Stewart To Host ‘Meet The Press’

Chuck Todd should feel pretty good about himself at the moment. Not only does his have his first month in the bag as the new host of Meet The Press, he beat out one of the biggest names on TV for the job. Well, kinda.

It would seem that NBC was after Jon Stewart to host the long running Sunday morning news program. From New York Magazine:

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).

The first hurdle there is obviously the fact that Meet The Press isn’t a comedy show. As New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman notes, Stewart’s interviews are sometimes fairly hard hitting (more than you might see from actual folks being paid to be hard hitting). But at the end of the day, he’s still a comedian. And he does carry a stigma with him that might drive a certain section of the political community away from his news desk.

I can’t blame him for turning it down, even if he is burned out from doing The Daily Show. He’s got a sweet gig with an established base to work from that allows him the choice of where he can go next. That’s why he can go make a movie in the middle of the summer or put together a rally in Washington, DC.

Interesting to see how desperate NBC was to boost the ratings of the show. Ratings that still aren’t anything to celebrate, even with Chuck Todd at the helm. At least it isn’t The McLaughlin Group, though.

(Via Variety / New York Magazine)