NEW YORK (AP) — Chuck Todd said Sunday he will leave “Meet the Press” after a tumultuous nearly decade of moderating the NBC political panel show, to be replaced by Kristen Welker in the coming months.
Todd, 51, told viewers that he had “watched too many friends and family let their work consume them before it was too late” and that he had promised his family he wouldn’t do that.
Todd has often been an online punching bag for critics, including Donald Trump, during a polarizing time, and there were rumors that his time on the show would be short when the executive producer was reassigned late last summer, but NBC gave no indication that this is something different than Todd’s solution. It’s unclear when Todd’s last show will be, but he told viewers this will be his last summer.
“I leave feeling concerned about this moment in history, but reassured by the standards we’ve set here,” Todd said. “We have not tolerated propagandists and this network and program never will.”
Welker, a former chief White House correspondent, has been with NBC News in Washington since 2011 and has been Todd’s top aide for the past three years. She won praise for moderating the final 2020 presidential debate between Trump, a Republican, and Joe Biden, a Democrat.
Her “sharp questioning of lawmakers is a master class in political interviewing,” NBC News president of editorial Rebecca Blumenstein said in a note announcing Welker’s elevation Sunday.
Welker, now 46, will be thrust into what promises to be another contentious presidential election cycle.
The Sunday morning political interview show has been on the air since 1947, hosted by inventor and first host Martha Rountree. Its peak came in the years Tim Russert was moderator, from 1991 until his death in 2008, and since then his position has been less secure. Tom Brokaw briefly replaced him after Russert’s death and David Gregory filled in until he was forced out in favor of Todd.
Welker will be the first black host of “Meet the Press” and the first woman since Rountree left in 1953.
Todd said he’s proud of expanding the Meet the Press brand to a daily show that originally aired on MSNBC but has been refocused to streaming, along with podcasts and newsletters, even a film festival.
“He transformed the brand into a vital modern franchise, expanding its footprint into a range of new media and keeping ‘Meet the Press’ at the forefront of political discourse,” Blumenstein said.
That didn’t stop critics from jumping to social media when they didn’t like an interview Todd conducted. Trump even anointed Todd with one of his signature nicknames, Sleepy Eyes, and called on NBC to fire Todd in 2020 for airing a clip of an interview with his then-Attorney General William Barr that the show later admitted was cut , to leave an inaccurate impression.
Todd was grilled at the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner by Trevor Noah, who pointed him out in the audience and said, “How are you? I would ask for follow-ups, but I know you don’t know what they are.
Todd addressed his critics by announcing his departure on Sunday.
“If you’re doing this job looking for popularity, you’re doing this job wrong,” he said. “I take the guerrilla attacks as a compliment. And I take genuine compliments with a grain of salt when they come from partisans.
The goal of any show, he said, is “to make you angry, to make you think, to shake your head in disapproval at one point, and to nod your head in approval at others.”
In the just-concluded TV season, “Meet the Press” was the third-most-watched show behind CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week,” each averaging between 2.5 million and 2. 9 million viewers, ratings company Nielsen reported.