Sunday network news programs have been a staple for news junkies for decades now. NBC’s “Meet the Press” goes back to 1947. CBS’s “Face The Nation” started in 1954. ABC’s “This Week” debuted in 1981.
But today’s current crop of hosts — Chuck Todd on NBC, Margaret Brennan on CBS and George Stephanopoulos on ABC — is as strong as any group of hosts the networks have ever had. And that’s saying something when past hosts include the likes of legends such as David Brinkley, Howard K. Smith and Tim Russert. All three shows have become must-see TV, partly because of the timeliness and relevance of their guests, but mostly because of the outstanding work of the hosts.
Their greatest strength is their preparedness, evidenced by their quick-thinking call-outs of guests who try to put forth their own political (and often misleading) spin during interviews. Each week, I could point out one of the hosts on top of his or her game, but this past weekend, it was CBS’s Brennan who stood out. The “Face The Nation” host asked all the right questions Sunday during a rapid-fire (and highly entertaining) conversation with Rudy Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys. During that interview, Giuliani said he was in favor of Congress seeing the complete Robert Mueller report because “there was nothing there.”
Giuliani told Brennan, “No Republican is pushing back on full disclosure of the report.”
Brennan’s best moments came when she inquired whether Giuliani wanted to have it both ways by questioning the Mueller team’s integrity while accepting its findings. Here’s the exchange, which started with Giuliani saying the Mueller team leaked information:
BRENNAN: “But for 22 months, you have to acknowledge the special counsel’s office —”
GIULIANI: “Hell no.”
BRENNAN: “— did not leak.”
GIULIANI: “Hell no. I got plenty of, ‘They’re saying this, they’re saying that.’ They knew all about our battle over questions —”
BRENNAN: “But you like —”
GIULIANI: “— they knew about the positions we took.”
BRENNAN: “But … but you’re … you’re impugning their credibility and their contact. But you are actually accepting and supporting their conclusions.”
GIULIANI: “Far more credible. Yes, because —”
BRENNAN: “That’s a bit contradictory.”
Most interesting TV moment this weekend
CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter gave a powerful speech Sunday morning, calling out President Donald Trump and asking a provocative question.
“What would you think if this were happening in some other country?” Stelter asked. “Imagine how we would cover (this) news if it were from Canada, Greece, New Zealand. Right now, the news is about a president who spends his time demonizing immigrants, spreading misinformation and accusing his opponents of treason. … This is all considered just a normal day.”
Stelter implored the media to keep calling out Trump’s ridiculous claims, such as when Trump said that wind farms cause cancer.
“Many of these things we only know about because of aggressive news coverage,” Stelter said. “But at this point, some news outlets barely even take notice of the never-ending errors and gaffes and embarrassments. … Is the news coverage keeping up?”
Women in charge
Diana Miller was named “CBS This Morning” executive producer last week and that means, for the time in history, there are women in charge of all three morning network news shows. Roxanna Sherwood is executive producer at ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Libby Leist heads up NBC’s “Today” show.
Miller has been working on “CBS This Morning” since 2014 as a senior broadcast producer. She takes over for Ryan Kadro, who left the show in December. Kadro said he wanted to find a new challenge, but the show’s ratings were struggling.In announcing Miller, CBS News president Susan Zirinsky said in a statement, “She’s an experienced journalist and collaborative leader. Her editorial vision, innovative ideas and ability to execute have had a positive impact on the broadcast for years and will help take the show into the future.”
Best work of the weekend
A year ago last Saturday, a bus carrying a junior hockey team from the Canadian town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, to a playoff game crashed, killing 16 of the 29 people on board. On Sunday, ESPN’s “E:60,” with help from Canada’s TSN, aired a sobering one-hour look at the tragedy, the mourning and the recovery of a town and its team. National Hockey League legend Wayne Gretzky narrated “Forever Broncos.” (Broncos is the nickname of the team.)
“E:60” executive producer Andy Tennant said, “We will take you to a hockey town deep in the heart of Saskatchewan and introduce you to some extraordinary people.”
ESPN and its sister stations will continue to the air the program periodically; it also can be found on the ESPN App.
Check it out
After 11 years, Kathie Lee Gifford says goodbye to the “Today” show.
In October, Bloomberg Businessweek published a story about hacking. Many of the companies mentioned in the piece, including Apple, denied the story and demanded a retraction. Now Bloomberg Businessweek is nominating the story for awards. The Washington Post’s Eric Wemple has the details.
The Boston Globe’s troubling look at a broken foster care system where some kids can’t find a bed to sleep.
A man has spent 36 years in an Illinois prison with no conviction or sentence. Chicago’s NPR station WBEZ tells the story.
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Correction: This story has been updated to correct the affiliation of NPR’s WBEZ station in Chicago. We regret the error.