I think Gregory is doing a pretty good job. There is a lot to like in his leadership of the program. But I also find myself frustrated by the show sometimes. So I decided to start this blog as a way to keep track of my own opinions and really clarify how I think the show could be improved.
For the moment here are the big questions which I think need answers:
Who is the audience? Political junkies inside the DC beltway? Or engaged voters outside the beltway? People who are interested in good governance? Or people who are interested in the political horse race? I am sure the answer is involves a mix of all these possibilities. But keeping this question of audience front-of-mind is important for keeping the show from sliding too far in any one direction. Right now I think the show tilts too far toward inside the beltway, horse race coverage. Questions lean more toward which party is up or down rather than really forcing the players to talk about how they are (or are not) contributing to solutions. Too often the show revolves around questions like “Last year you said X, but now you are saying Y. How do you explain that?”
How should the roundtable segment be used? This discussion among journalists, operatives, and opinion-leaders can often be the most insightful part of the show. But its success hinges on the question above. Is this supposed to be primarily a look at politics or at actual governance? I think the roundtable could become a forum for discussing solutions. One way to force it in that direction might be to bring in opinion leaders from outside of DC more often. (Oh and I hate it when the columnists on the roundtable simply rehash what they wrote in their columns last week. Bring something new or stay home.)
Can the show promote cross-party dialogue and solutions? Lately the show has opened with Gregory interviewing a Democratic leader, then interviewing a Republican leader. But seldom is there dialogue, even when the two guests were sitting in the same room while the sequential interviews took place. On the January 31, 2010 show, Gregory played a Meet the Press Minute from 1989 where the Senate’s majority and minority leaders sat together on the show for a discussion. Meet The Press could play a huge national service by doing more of that… especially with a moderator who pushed the two guests toward solutions rather than provoking them to fight.
Finally, the name of this blog comes from the closing line used each week by David Gregory and Tim Russert: “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet The Press.”