We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

The New Face of ‘Meet the Press’: Kristen Welker Steps into Her New Role as Moderator

A look at ‘Meet the Press,’ the future of the longest-running show on television.
Kristen Welker takes the helm as the new moderator of ‘Meet the Press,’ ushering in a new era for the esteemed political program. With her seasoned journalistic expertise, Welker is set to navigate and shape critical national conversations. (Photo Credit: Joshua Qualls (Massachusetts Governor’s Press Office), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

At the end of last summer, former host Chuck Todd stepped down as the moderator of Meet the Press, allowing Kristen Welker to take charge as the show’s next moderator. Todd, who grew to be a fan favorite in his nearly decade-long tenure with Meet the Press, accomplished his stated goal of not becoming “the last host of Meet the Press,” guiding the program through the 2010s.

Since its inception in 1947, NBC’s Meet the Press has stood as a pillar of American political journalism. As the longest-running television program in history, it has chronicled the evolution of American politics and society through nearly eight decades. The brainchild of renowned journalist Martha Roundtree, who also served as the show’s first moderator, Meet the Press quickly became the platform where politicians, policymakers, and newsmakers answered tough, insightful questions. In its time, it has hosted every sitting president and numerous world leaders, securing its status as an indispensable forum for political public discourse.

The show began on the radio before it transitioned to television in 1947. In its early years, Meet the Press set the standard for what would become a rigorous program that pressed politicians on the issues of the day. Lawrence Spivak, who succeeded Roundtree as moderator, further established the show’s reputation for no-nonsense, concise, political journalism. The influence of the program continued to grow under the leadership of several subsequent moderators, including Bill Monroe and Marvin Kalb, each of whom brought unique journalistic styles to the show. 

However, it was Tim Russert’s tenure from 1991 to 2008 that defined Meet the Press for a generation. Russert’s thorough preparation and relentless, incisive questioning earned him widespread recognition and solidified the program’s role as America’s Sunday morning staple, outcompeting ABC’s This Week and CBC’s Face the Nation.

Here, former moderator Chuck Todd sits down with Senator Chris Murphy in order to discuss important background check negotiations with the White House in 2019. Each Sunday episode of Meet the Press features a central interview focusing on the week’s main news story, a hallmark of the program. (Photo Credit: United State Senate – the Office of Chris Murphy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kristen Welker’s appointment as the new host of Meet the Press marks a significant moment in the program’s long and storied history. As the first woman of color to assume the role of moderator, and the first woman to hold the role since the program’s founder, Welker’s ascension is a milestone that reflects the evolving face of American media. With over a decade at NBC News, Welker distinguished herself through her coverage of multiple presidential elections, her role as NBC’s chief White House correspondent, and her frequent appearances as guest host on Meet the Press, during the Chuck Todd era. 

For an incoming host, Welker’s credentials are exceptional. In her time at NBC, she was known for her tenacious reporting and her ability to distill complex political jargon into comprehensive narratives. Her experience positions her well to carry on the legacy of Meet the Press.

As Welker takes the helm, she inherits a program that has consistently adapted to the challenging landscape that exists at the cross-section of media and politics. In her first weeks moderating the program, Welker’s vision for the show seems to aim to bridge the gap between traditional journalism and the digital age. 

The Sunday morning news, once a central source of information for millions of American households across all demographics, has become somewhat overlooked by younger generations. Welker’s main focus seems to be to try to address this gradual decline in viewership by pulling in younger and more diverse audiences and so far, she is exceeding expectations. Not only has Welker’s show been number one in total viewership for the last four weeks, but the show has been consistently outperforming its main competitors, Fox’s Fox News Sunday and ABC’s This Week, among viewers aged 25-54. Over the course of the last few weeks, the program has averaged 2,650,000 concurrent viewers, a record-setting figure. 

As Meet the Press continues to adapt to the changing media landscape, it is also beginning to embrace new platforms to maintain its relevance. The integration of digital content, podcasts, and social media interaction has allowed the show to reach a more diverse audience. 

While much of the recent growth can be attributed to Welker’s early success as a host, of equal importance are the actions that NBC and the Meet the Press team have taken to promote the show on the NBC new app, which has generated a significant amount of engagement from younger prospective viewers and is likely the reason why the show is outpacing its competitors among younger viewers. 

In her relatively short time as a moderator, Welker has been tasked with reporting on exceedingly challenging and explosive events such as the escalation of conflict in Palestine and the war in Ukraine. Despite the increasingly divisive nature of these topics, Welker has managed to take a relatively balanced approach in her coverage of them. 

This balanced approach to news, a hallmark of Meet the Press, is enabled by the interview format of the show, which allows them to hear directly from individuals involved on both sides of important issues. Recent guests of the show include Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reporters on the ground in the Gaza Strip, such as foreign correspondent Richard Engel, and many others on the frontlines of foreign conflicts. While it may seem as though the most important news of the day is elsewhere around the globe, the show has made a commitment to keep viewers informed of domestic political events. With the 2024 election cycle coming up, and cable news viewership rising as a result, the show’s first election cycle under Welker’s tenure will be an important test that will likely forecast its future.

Sensationalism is at an all-time high in today’s modern media landscape and evidently, so is public distrust of the mainstream media. According to recent polling from Gallup, only 34% of Americans trust the mass media to report the news of the day “fully, accurately and fairly.” This figure which is, to some, shockingly low is virtually the same as results from the previous year and only two percentage points higher than the lowest number Gallup has ever recorded. What’s more, is that just 7% of Americans have a “great deal” of trust and confidence in the media. These are discouraging figures for those involved in mass media representative of the growing societal distrust in large institutions that, historically speaking, have been held in high regard in the public sphere. 

In response to this worrying trend, the focus of the show will have to be maintaining its journalistic integrity. Maintaining this integrity in an era dominated by sensationalism and partisan commentary is a critical challenge. Meet the Press has always been considered a down-to-earth, anti-inflammatory show. The prioritization of facts and the care taken to avoid recycling the same news week after week that helped develop the show’s relatively positive reputation will undoubtedly be put to the test this election season. 

While Meet the Press intends to stray slightly from traditional journalistic norms with its use of the new app and other social media platforms, it must not fall into the trap of producing “clickbaity” or shock-value news. To build trust with the public, something that has been proven to be exceedingly difficult these past years, it must maintain its commitment to fact-based journalism and uphold the mission given to it by its founder, Martha Roundtree almost eight decades ago. Though the path forward for a cable news show like Meet the Press looks rather arduous, Kristen Welker seems to be poised to lead the show into the next era of broadcast journalism. 

Though the path forward for a cable news show like Meet the Press looks rather arduous, Kristen Welker seems to be poised to lead the show into the next era of broadcast journalism. 


About the Contributor
Nicholas Anderson, Staff Reporter
Nicholas Anderson is a Managing Editor and Advisory Editor for ‘The Science Survey.' What draws him to journalism is the way that diverse and interesting articles can be so compelling while simultaneously educating the reader, something that he hopes to achieve in his own writing. Additionally, with the recent rise of misinformation, Nicholas believes that the reliable, relevant information present in journalism remains paramount to the goal of fostering a well-informed society. Photojournalism is essential for creating an environment within the story that fosters the reader's imagination and intrigue. Excellent photography can make a world of difference by allowing the author to represent their ideas in a way that makes them more tangible to their audience. Nicholas’ propensity for exploration and investigation follows him wherever he goes. He loves to travel, seeking out unfamiliar things at home and abroad. Nicholas is a voracious reader, a determined student, and an athlete, all three of which challenge him and continue to shape his perspective. As of this moment, Nicholas hopes to pursue a career in public health, but he knows that journalism, more specifically the skills that he aims to develop through journalism, will follow him everywhere he goes.