When Chuck Todd inherited Meet the Press, historically one of the most august posts in American journalism, he immediately stressed the importance of expanding the storied Sunday show’s cultural footprint to focus on its future as a robust, 24/7 digital franchise with up-to-the-minute political news and “Beltway buzz.” This was hardly a novel concept at the time. By 2014, both Twitter and Politico had been around for nearly a decade and dramatically turbocharged the pace of the news cycle. Simultaneously, the legacy media industry was investing tens of millions in always-on content purveyors like Buzzfeed, Vice, and Vox with the presumption that the secret sauce to millennial engagement required omni-channel shorter-burst, “snackable” content.
Todd, then in his early 40s, wanted to have it both ways: helm a storied show while flashing some digital age juice. He had the curriculum vitae, sartorial standards, political geekiness and institutional loyalty that seemed to epitomize the uniquely staid traditions of Washington. But in the overly cautious and uninventive world of television news, he qualified as a digital evangelist. Under his leadership, Meet the Press, a Sunday fixture, would need to run seven days a week, he declared, and meet audiences where they were: on their phone, in their inbox, everywhere.