"Meet the Press" Marches On, Announces New Interim Host

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June 22 – “Meet the Press” Marches On, Announces New Interim Host

NBC anchor Brian Williams, stepping in to host the Meet the Press program planned by Tim Russert before he died suddenly of a heart attack nine days ago, concluded the program by revealing the identity of the person who would shepherd the program through the 2008 presidential campaign cycle: Tom Brokaw.

Selecting Williams’ Nightly News predecessor as Russert’s Sunday-morning interim successor is a brilliant move. To honor the legacies of both Russert and the 61-year-old Meet the Press, especially in such an important political year, his successor had to, as a GE ad saluted Russert during the hour, “a trusted voice.” TV has fewer of those all the time, but veteran newsman Brokaw is one of them.

The other reason it’s such a smart move is that Russert, for the most part, devoted his entire week to preparing for Meet the Press, and the next person as moderator should have that same sort of intense focus. Brokaw can, and undoubtedly will.

As for Sunday’s program, Williams managed, when asking Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden about his vice presidential aspirations, to do what Meet the Press, under Russert, did so often: make news.  After insisting he didn’t want to be asked to be Barack Obama’s running mate, Biden said if, asked, he would say yes.

And the program ended with one last Russert tribute – samples of remarks from his memorial service, the sound of the concluding song from that service (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), and images of the dazzling rainbow that greeted mourners as they exited the Kennedy Center that day in Washington, D.C.

The rainbow not only matched the central image from Iz’s song, but, just as fittingly, included all the colors of the NBC peacock.