Network television’s oldest show, Meet the Press, debuted on NBC on November 6, 1947. The guest on this first show was James A. Farley, former postmaster general under Franklin D. Roosevelt and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; the show was created by Laurence E. Spivak and Martha Roundtree (who served as moderator). Meet the Press made its radio debut in 1945. The series moved around the week in its first few years but since 1950 has been a Sunday staple, as Tim Russert’s tagline suggests: “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.”
The Archive of American Television has interviewed several members of the team responsible for the show over the years and we’re happy to highlight two of these interviews:
Tim Russert was interviewed for a half-hour on the set of Meet the Press in Washington, D.C. Russert spoke about his early years growing up in Buffalo, NY and his decision to go to law school. He then spoke about his transition to television news, joining NBC News in 1984 as vice president — working very closely with his mentor, NBC president Lawrence Grossman. In 1988, he became the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief of NBC News and in 1991 he joined Meet the Press as its moderator. He spoke about his meeting with Meet the Press co-creator Lawrence Spivak and outlined his philosophy for moderating a news interview show. He also spoke about what he considered the biggest news story of his career to-date, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America.
Betty Cole Dukert was interviewed for four-and-a-half hours. Dukert spoke of her early interest in journalism and her brief production experience in local radio and television. She spoke in great detail about her tenure at Meet the Press, which spanned five decades, for which she ultimately served as executive producer. Dukert offered a history of the show from its earliest years as well as discussing her personal experiences behind-the-scenes. She chronicled her overseas trips, guests who appeared on the show, and the relationship between the series and the world’s political leaders. Additionally, she described the working methods of the moderators who served on the show during her years including: Ned Brooks, Lawrence Spivak, Bill Monroe, Marvin Kalb, Roger Mudd, Chris Wallace, Garrick Utley, and Tim Russert.