NBC anchor takes on moderator duties

NBC News has turned to its elder on-air statesman to fill the void at “Meet the Press.”

Tom Brokaw will take on moderator duties for the Sunday morning chatshow through at least the end of the 2008 presidential election. The jolt from the death of “Meet the Press” moderator and Washington, D.C., bureau chief Tim Russert left NBC News scrambling to shore up the future of its profitable and prestigious franchise, the longest-running program on network TV.

Net made Brokaw’s posting official on Sunday. Peacock said it hasn’t determined its “Meet the Press” plans beyond the election and is still figuring out how to restructure its D.C. bureau in the wake of Russert’s passing on June 13.

“A lot has been said in recent days about what ‘Meet the Press’ means to NBC News and to the nation,” said NBC News prexy Steve Capus. “To have someone of Tom’s stature step up and dedicate himself to ensuring its ongoing success is not only a testament to his loyalty to Tim, but his enduring commitment to NBC News and our viewers.”

Brokaw was seen as the natural choice for the tough assignment. His years on the Washington beat and 21 years as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” give him the connections and the gravitas to keep “Meet the Press” competitive in the highly competitive D.C. Sunday ayem show booking wars. Under Russert’s 16-year tenure as moderator, “Meet the Press” opened up a wide lead against CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week.”

Moreover, Brokaw has maintained a high profile in the media world since handing the “NBC Nightly News” reins to Brian Williams in December 2004.

He’s produced and hosted a number of “Tom Brokaw Reports” docu specials for the Peacock and as a special correspondent to “Today” and other shows. Earlier this year he fronted History Channel’s successful spesh “1968 With Tom Brokaw,” which was based in part on Brokaw’s bestselling book “Boom! Voices of the Sixties.”

There’s precedent for a former nightly news anchor segueing to the Sunday morning shows. Former NBC News anchor David Brinkley shifted to that role in launching “This Week With David Brinkley” for ABC in 1981.

Brokaw hosted the June 15 seg of “Meet the Press” that paid tribute to Russert. “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams filled in this past week, while Brokaw will return to the chair starting this Sunday.

“Meet the Press” will continue to broadcast from NBC News’ Washington, D.C., bureau.

“Tim made ‘Meet the Press’ the center of the universe for informative and lively discussions of public affairs, particularly the exciting 2008 campaign for president, and I intend to continue that commitment to our viewers,” Brokaw said.

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