If It's Sunday, It's Popular Sunday Morning News Talk Shows

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'Meet the Press' celebrates 65th anniversary

Many Americans depend on the Sunday morning news talk shows for help in better understanding key issues of the day.

“Meet the Press,” the oldest running show on television and the highest rated of the Sunday morning talk shows, is celebrating its 65th anniversary. The show started in 1945 on radio.

The show has been hosted by 11 moderators. The current host is David Gregory, who took over in December 2008.

Other “Meet the Press” competitors include “Face the Nation” on CBS, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous,” and CNN’s “State of the Union”  with Candy Crowley.

“Meet the Press’ is also distributed to radio stations, and airs as part of C-SPAN Radio's replay of the Sunday morning talk shows.

Meet the Press screenshot“Meet the Press” was originally presented as a 30-minute press conference with a single guest and a panel of questioners. Its first guest was James Farley, who served as Postmaster General, Democratic National Committee Chairman, and campaign manager to Franklin Delano Roosevelt under the first two terms of the New Deal Administration. Its first host was its creator Martha Rountree, to date the program's only female moderator.

The program then went through a series of hosts as it struggled in the ratings against ABC's “This Week with David Brinkley.” Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb (as co-moderators) followed Bill Monroe for a year, followed by Chris Wallace (who would later to go on to a much longer run as host of the rival program Fox News Sunday) in 1987 and 1988. Garrick Utley, then hosting “Weekend Today,” concurrently hosted “Meet the Press” from 1989 through December 1, 1991.

Network officials, concerned for the show's future, turned to Tim Russert, pictured above, the network's Washington bureau chief. He took over on December 8, 1991, and remained until his death on June 13, 2008, serving as moderator longer than anyone else in the program's history.

Under Russert, the show was expanded to one hour and became less of a televised press conference and more focused on Russert's questions and comments, with longer interviews and with Russert hosting panels of experts.

Russert signed off by saying, “That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.”

Brian Williams, the “NBC Nightly News” anchor, acted as moderator of the first show back after the June 15 memorial broadcast, with the same guests and subject matter that Russert was planning for when he died. Following Russert's death, Tom Brokaw was named the interim moderator through the 2008 general elections. Brokaw followed Russert's tradition by signing off with “We'll be back next Sunday because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.”

 Some milestones milestones for the show include:

  • First female guest: Elizabeth Bentley, a courier for a Communist spy ring, on September 12, 1948.
  • Every U.S. President since John F. Kennedy has appeared on “Meet the Press,” although not necessarily during his presidency. Jimmy Carter used his appearance on January 20, 1980 to announce the United States' boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Ronald Reagan appeared seven times prior to being elected the President, but did not appear during his presidency. Bill Clinton was the guest for the 50th anniversary broadcast on November 9, 1997. The February 8, 2004 interview with George W. Bush was conducted in the Oval Office at the White House. The December 7, 2008 interview was with current President Barack Obama.
  • The first live communications satellite TV interview occurred on “Meet the Press” on September 19, 1965, with the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Bob Shieffer“Face the Nation” premiered on the CBS television network on November 7, 1954. At 30 minutes (“Face the Nation” was the shortest of the Sunday talk shows and the only half-hour Sunday morning talk show on the four major broadcast networks. It expanded to 60 minutes for a preliminary period of twenty weeks in April 2012, and was permanently extended to 60 minutes on July 29, 2012. Veteran newsman Bob Schieffer (pictured) is the host.

While these are the "big five" that are universally included in the definition, not all of them are aired in all markets, and there are some other shows that are occasionally included in this category. Examples include NBC's syndicated “The Chris Matthews Show,” Bloomberg Television's “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” the PBS roundtables “The McLaughlin Group” “ Inside Washington” and “This Is America with Dennis Wholey” as well as Washington Week, C-SPAN's “Newsmakers,” TV One's “Washington Watch,” Fox News Channel's “Journal Editorial Report,” among several others. Univision's “Al Punto” is a talk show of this variety that is broadcast in the Spanish language.

C-SPAN Radio provides a commercial-free rebroadcast of all five shows in rapid succession, beginning at noon Eastern. Other radio stations rebroadcast some of the shows with commercials on Sunday afternoon.

George Stephanopoulos“This Week” is the Sunday morning political affairs program on the ABC television network. It premiered in 1981. Currently, George Stephanopoulos (pictured) is the host for the second time in the show's history.

In 1960, ABC's Sunday talk show was launched as “Issues and Answers.” One of its early hosts was respected journalist Howard K. Smith, who also had his own prime-time public affairs program Howard K. Smith: News and Comment in the 1962-1963 season. Another host was Bob Clark. See photo of Smith interviewing President Nixon.

On November 15, 1981, David Brinkley joined  the network from NBC and took over the show, which was renamed This Week. During Brinkley's run, three major sponsors were part of the show: General Electric, Archer Daniels Midland and Merrill Lynch. The names of the regular hosts have been included in the billing for the program, such as “This Week with David Brinkley.” After Brinkley retired on December 8, 1996, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts co-hosted. George Stephanopoulos became the host on September 15, 2002; he ended his tenure on January 10, 2010, shortly after being named the co-host of “Good Morning America.” ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper served as the interim anchor from March to July 2010.

Christiane Amanpour, a world affairs correspondent at CNN, began as anchor in August, 2010. During her first two months as host, the ratings for “This Week” reached its lowest point since 2003. On January 5, 2012, ABC announced that George Stephanopoulos would return as the host of “This Week.”

In February, 2009, the gap between “Meet the Press” and its competitors — CBS' “Face the Nation” and ABC's “This Week” — began closing. “Meet the Press” posted its lowest ratings since NBC's David Gregory became moderator in early February, with the show airing Sunday, Feb. 1 averaging just 3.9 million viewers. “Face the Nation” averaged 3.33 million total viewers, while “This Week” came in just behind with 3.32 million total viewers.

“Meet the Press” recently produced “Meet the Press: 65 Years of History In the Making, Volume One”  features newsmakers Joe McCarthy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Wallace, Bill Bradley, Jesse Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Michael Jordan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Cosby, Hubert Humphrey, Indira Gandhi, John Kerry, Madeleine Albright, Anwar Sadat, Donald Rumsfeld, Newt Gingrich, Hillary Clinton, and many more. Also included are some early radio broadcasts of the program

 

Visit your local library for more resources on this subject.

Meet the Press : Fifty Years of History in the Making
by Rick Ball; NBC News, (1998).

Face the Nation : My Favorite Stories from the First 50 Years of the Award-winning News Broadcast
by Bob Schieffer, (2004).

This Just In : What I Couldn't Tell You on TV
by Bob Schieffer, (2003).
Publisher:     New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, ©2003.

All Too Human : A Political Education

by George Stephanopoulos, (1999).

 

Images:

Tim Russert
Date: 22 October 2007
Source: Flickr
Author: hyku from Winter Haven, FL, USA

Meet the Press.
This is a screenshot of the November 9, 1975 edition

Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent for "CBS News" and anchor/moderator of "Face the Nation," works on the lineup at CBS in New York City on Tuesday, April 11, 2006.
Author: U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Wagers

George Stephanopoulos: American television journalist and a former political advisor pictured in April 2009
Date: 28 April 2009
Source     http://www.flickr.com/photos/tulanesally/3486488288/in/photostream/
Author: Tulane Public Relations

 

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