In Politico’s reporting on Chuck Todd taking over “Meet the Press,” the Drudge Report singled out Mark Leibovich, a New York Times reporter and the author of “This Town,” a book on Washington insiders. Tim Russert’s success came from his ability be “distinctive and combative.”
“If you were a politician of serious ambition,” Leibovich wrote, “an invitation to his set was your rite of passage and your proving ground.” Presidential candidates in both parties weren’t contenders until they passed a Russert exam.
“Chuck’s obviously smart and ‘loves the game’ and all that. So did Russert. But Russert was also dangerous,” Leibovich said. “No Sunday host is remotely considered ‘dangerous’ these days, Chuck needs to make himself dangerous — dangerous, for starters, to the talking point whores who see Sunday invites as a ‘platform to get my message out.’”
Russert wasn't always tough once you made it to the top. His Clinton Global Initiative interviews with Slick Willie proved that. You can be a "talking points whore" if you're a so-called Political Mastermind. In 2005 and again in 2006, Russert was putty in Clinton's hands. (I joked "My Little Pony" had more conflict.)
Todd doesn't have to be "dangerous." He just has to make guests know he does his homework and they won't be coddled. That's what made Russert's show number one. His subtle work recently on MSNBC with the leader of Emily's List wasn't "dangerous," but it wasn't coddling.
PS: Someone needs to nudge Politico about treating Sunday morning TV as some kind of holy ground.
“Todd won’t need to prove anything to Washington. This town’s political-media establishment has already sanctified him...Under the late Tim Russert, who died in 2008, “Meet” had spent 15 years as the No. 1 Sunday public affairs program, and he and the show occupied a sacred space in American politics.”
They also quoted Howard Mortman calling the Hotline (where Todd began) a “great bible of political knowledge.” In a previous article, they also insisted "NBC is betting that Todd can infuse 'Meet the Press' with Russert’s passion and credibility and once again turn Sunday morning into a sacred place for political discussion and debate."