NBC News is passing the baton on its long-running Sunday public affairs program “Meet the Press.”
Chuck Todd told viewers Sunday he is leaving the moderator’s chair on the 75-year-old program in September. He will hand it off to Kristen Welker, the network’s chief White House correspondent.
Welker will be the second female moderator in the long history of “Meet the Press.” Martha Rountree was the first to have the job when the program launched in 1947 and held the position until 1953.
Welker will make history as the first Black woman to serve as moderator of a Sunday morning network public affairs program, among the most prestigious positions in TV news.
The correspondent’s contract with NBC News was up at the end of the year and she likely would have departed for other opportunities if the moderator job had gone to another candidate, according to people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to comment.
Welker is a home-grown on-air talent, hired in 2010 after she put in several years as a local anchor at NBC’s Philadelphia TV station, and the network did not want to risk losing her.
Her stock at the network shot up significantly in 2020 after she received strong reviews for her handling of the second presidential debate.
Todd praised the choice of Welker, who has served as a regular substitute for him.
“I’m also ready to take a step back because I have so much confidence in the person whom I’m going to pass the baton to,” Todd said near the end of the program Sunday. “She’s somebody who’s been ready for this for a long time. I’ve had the privilege of working with her from essentially her first day here in Washington and let me just say she’s the right person in the right moment.”
Todd will remain at NBC News, where he will continue to be a political analyst and will take part in the network’s election coverage. He will also continue to work on documentary projects.
The replacement of Todd has been under discussion at NBC for years. Todd himself acknowledged that the job of hosting a broadcast institution was not permanent.
“The program doesn’t belong to me,” Todd told The Times in a 2020 interview. “That is something that I’m fully aware of. I’m a custodian. My job is to put ‘Meet the Press’ in a better place and leave it in a better place than I got it.”
Todd, 51, told viewers he is ready for the change.
“I’ve let work consume me for nearly 30 years. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t wake up before 5 or 6 a.m. and as I’ve watched too many friends and family let work consume them before it was too late I promised my family I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I’d rather leave a little bit too soon than stay a tad bit too long.”
Todd joined NBC News in 2007 after running the political newsletter Hotline. A protégé of the late Tim Russert, the program’s moderator from 1991 until his death in 2008, Todd served as the network’s political director before taking over the Sunday program in 2014.
As “Meet the Press” moderator, Todd was often criticized on social media by liberal critics for not being tough enough in his line of questioning on the program. Conservatives were not fond of him either.
But the shots at Todd came largely from the political left when he was host of a daily version of “Meet the Press” that ran on progressive-leaning cable network MSNBC.
Todd’s straight-ahead approach to interviewing politicians was not well-received by MSNBC’s viewers, who tune in largely to see liberal commentary, and their vitriol toward him showed up regularly online.
Welker will also take over the daily streaming version of “Meet the Press Now,” which was moved to NBC’s Peacock service last year.